Movie Review: Fantastic Four (2015)

Fantastic Four continues to be cursed as the recent reboot is another misfire. The fourth feature has a neglected origins story, shallow characterization, zero chemistry, and cheap-looking CGI that wastes all the talent involved.

FANTASTIC FOUR, a contemporary re-imagining of Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero team, centers on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy. (C) Fox

sorry, none of you gets to ride the superhero gravy train

Fantastic Four looks more like a drawn out pilot for what now looks like a doomed franchise. Both the critics and audiences agreed in unison that it’s one of the worst movies this year. Good thing we have Rogue Nation as a reprieve from Pixels and now a distraction from this disappointing fourth reiteration.

To be fair Fantastic Four looks promising. It has a talented ensemble. It has an origins story revolving around another dimension with an interesting alien landscape. The trailer promises a grounded remake and traces of it does exist. It has Josh Trank, the guy who managed to deliver the producer’s wet dream with Chronicle – a blockbuster with modest funding and a proven formula.

Unfortunately, something happened along the way and whatever’s on paper didn’t translate well to the screen (whether that’s because of shitty source material or studio interference is unclear).

First off, the origins story is nowhere to be found. Instead of exploring the source of the Four’s powers, the movie spends more time on negligible details – Reed’s inconsequential back story and construction of the teleportation device. The supposed blockbuster flick morphs into a mumblecore-ish movie about teenagers working on a classified project. This would have been forgivable if there was an interesting character interplay to develop the group’s dynamic.

Unfortunately, the talented cast has nothing to work with beyond shallow characterization – the nerd and his loyal sidekick, the designated Mary Sue, the rebel, the douchey genius, and the life coach/Morgan Freeman stand-in. The caricature villain dilutes Dr. Doom’s transformation with vague motivations stemming from unrequited love. Later on the movie reveals a new look: instead of a mask he’s wrapped in molten debris with a metallic green glow that made him look silly.

cast hopes to ride a mega million franchise, gets blockbuster doom instead

In the second half you can see the studio’s influence as the movie becomes a predictable action flick with cheap-looking CGI (see: RIPD). A showdown is tacked on in an attempt to inject some action to what has been an uneventful story resulting into a rushed climax. As evidenced by Mara’s bad wig and Teller’s nearly deadpan delivery of expository lines, this was a reshoot ordered by the studio that no one probably wanted.

In the end, the movie sets-up a happy ending for a potential sequel which may not happen. The main question, sparked by Josh Trank’s reported deleted tweet, is who’s to blame for the abysmal Fantastic Four reboot? This is the fourth attempt (the first is officially unreleased but floating somewhere online) and nobody can’t make a decent movie out of it.

In my opinion based from the final product it’s both Trank and  Fox – the first half is a poorly written and executed vision with barely developed characters; the second half is a studio trying to save what they think is a floundering movie but end up making it worse.

Fantastic Four’s adaptations seems to be cursed since the beginning. Whatever we can glean from this reboot is that it mirrors the career of its director who tried to bail out as the negative reviews started pouring in. Well, here’s another one.

My Rating: 3/10

PS: Rumor has it that Fox is still going to push through with the sequel.

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