Man oh man. FANTASTIC FOUR is not a good movie. But while I usually embrace my feelings of schadenfreude and enjoy writing reviews of bad movies, I don’t feel good about this one. Maybe it’s because I feel like Josh Trank is being thrown under the bus, having his original vision cast aside to make the film a safer audience bet (fail!), or maybe it’s because the actors seemed dead inside by the end of the film and during this entire press tour because they know they are promoting a bad movie (and are getting asked sexist/racist questions in the process). Either way, I take no joy in saying how terrible this movie is, but I will find happiness in knowing that I spared some of you the cost of admission.
Reed Richards (Miles Teller) is a child genius. At an early age, he, with the help of his best friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), discovered a method to teleport between dimensions. When their teleportation prototype is exhibited at a high-school science fair, research director Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) and his daughter Sue Storm (Kate Mara) come calling. The elder Storm offers Richards a scholarship at his facility, to assist him and his researchers in developing the Quantum Gate. This gate is meant to open a door between our realm and “Planet Zero”.
But as the Quantum Gate gets closer and closer to completion, the government steps in, wanting to hand the project over to NASA. Because Reed, Ben, Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), and the equally brilliant, yet unstable Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) don’t want astronauts to get credit for their work, the men go on a rogue mission to be the first people to step foot on Planet Zero. But, of course, things don’t go as expected and not all of the men make it back. I’ll give you one guess as to who the group is forced to leave behind. With Sue’s help, the (now) trio make it back to our dimension, but bring superpowers with them. Reed has extreme elasticity and shape-shifting powers. Sue can make herself invisible, create force fields and generate energy pulses. Johnny can fly, as well as throw fireballs. And lastly, Ben, who is now a giant man made of rocks, has superhuman strength and durability. When a later trip to Planet Zero brings Doom (literally and figuratively) back to our world, the group is forced to band together to stop him from creating complete destruction.
It wouldn’t be my review if I didn’t dedicate an entire paragraph to the best part of the film, Kate Mara’s terrible wig. It’s obvious that the film’s estimated $150 million budget was not spent on acquiring a Julianna Margulies/THE GOOD WIFE-level wig, nor was it spent on decent CGI, a cohesive script, etc… but that’s a horse of a different color. As much as I was ready for the movie to be over, I was not ready to quit that wig. Keeping tabs on that cheap, Dollar General-level thing was my favorite part of the FANTASTIC FOUR experience – mostly because it helped discern what scenes were part of the re-shoots. Yes, this movie was bad even with added days of shooting. On the bright side, maybe you can use the different states of Kate Mara’s hair as a fun drinking game?
For a movie called FANTASTIC FOUR, there was little to no development of relationships between characters. Yes, this is an origin story but the only two people with any semblance of a friendship were Reed and Ben. There was no chemistry among anyone else. Reed and Sue interacted very little… in fact, Sue didn’t really interact with ANY members of the team, not even her “brother” Johnny. A script that gives her character zero personality, Kate Mara, through no fault of her own, was wasted and given nothing to do. She doesn’t even get to go on the initial mission that gave everyone superpowers. Speaking of nothing to do… it’s a pretty bad sign when a villain’s scariest quality is his name. It’s hard to tell why Victor Von Doom is so hell-bent on destroying Earth. Is it because he also didn’t want this movie to see the light of day? Your guess is as good as mine – mostly because I am still confused as to what that hasty, afterthought of a climax was supposed to be.
And the terrible one-liners – so, so incredibly cringe-worthy. The movie quickly transitioned from boring and slow into hilarious and kinda sad. It was obvious, especially in the “climactic” battle scene, that Miles Teller was also wondering why he had the misfortune of signing up for this film. Such exposition-heavy quotes as, “It’s Victor! He’s the source! We must stop him!”, cracked the audience up, but were also probably the straw that broke Teller’s back. He is better than this. He knows it. We know it. Unfortunately, it only gets worse during the final scene, which has Teller’s Reed contemplating what the team should be called. He perks up when someone mentions the word “Fantastic”, and starts to finish the second part of the name until getting cut off by the credits a la AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (“Avengers…[Assemble]). I wish I were kidding.
Hollywood, stop trying to make FANTASTIC FOUR happen. It’s not going to happen – especially not when you decide to edit it to hell. Multiple “creative” visions do not a movie make. The FANTASTIC FOUR sequel has allegedly already been green-lit, but I expect to see that light change to red very shortly. But hey, I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing a B-movie centered around Kate Mara’s wig. Eat your heart out, SHARKNADO, FANTASTIC FOUR: SNATCHIN’ WIGS is coming for you.
My Review: D