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[Review] ‘Fantastic Four’ Is A Grimm & Fourgettable Mess

I’m honestly not sure what to say about this one.   Despite the fact that I hear a lot of background information on a vast majority of the bigger films that come our way, particularly superhero/comic book movies, I do my best to wipe all of that from my mind when I finally sit down in a theater to watch said film. I do my best to judge the film as is, based solely on the merits of what is on screen. Most of the time, it’s an easy goal to accomplish, but not here. Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four is almost impossible to judge based only on what is playing in front of audiences this weekend because we are all aware of the fact that what we are seeing has been compromised.

Most have read or at least heard the horror stories about the film’s production. Most are aware of the massive reshoots that occurred earlier this year. To be fair, things like this happen more often than you would think in Hollywood, but it is generally because everyone involved has decided that the film needs work. In this case, however, we have a director who has slowly disowned his film more and more with each subsequent interview, a cast that is mostly remaining silent, and a studio (Fox) that seemingly gave up on the final product months ago. Simply put, the whole situation is one giant mess and so is the film itself.

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The biggest problem facing the film is that none of its three acts feel like they belong to the same film. They all feel like they come from different version of the same project and have been Frankenstein’d together by a studio who no longer cares and just wants to be done with it all. The first act is actually engaging for the most part and the characters work well, aside from Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), who is oddly absent for the majority of it. The second act takes an odd turn and not for the better, as we skip ahead in time a year on from the accident and take a look at how each affected lead is coping. The third takes yet another disappointing left turn and plunges full-on into standard superhero mediocrity.

Binding these three acts are the film’s two most memorable sequences. The first, our segue between Acts 1 and 2, involves the aftermath of a failed experimental human trip into an alternate dimension. Scientific team member Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell) has seemingly perished in an awful manner in said dimension and what happens to the other four is equally horrifying. Sue Storm (Kate Mara) lies unconscious on the lab floor, appearing to phase in and out of existence. We know that she is now The Invisible Woman, of course, but this entire sequence is played out like something from a sci-fi horror film.

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We move to Reed Richards (Miles Teller), whose legs are trapped beneath some debris.   He attempts to crawl to his friend Ben, who is seemingly buried under a pile of rubble. He is now The Thing, but Reed doesn’t know that. He thinks his best friend is being crushed to death and the scene plays out as such. As he slithers across the floor, he sees what appears to be the burning corpse of Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) lying slightly higher atop a piece of equipment. To us, Johnny is now The Human Torch, but to Reed, his friend is dead and cooking like a roasted pig on a spit.

Reed eventually realizes that while he has been moving across the floor, his legs have remained trapped under the debris. Our Mister Fantastic is stretching across the destroyed lab floor and after coming to this terrifying realization, he passes out. What follows now are a series of disturbing hospital-esque lab sequences as scientists study and test our fantastic foursome. It’s darkly clinical and altogether grim.

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Matching this sequence is the segue between Acts 2 and 3. The government authorizes another trip to this “Planet Zero” for further testing, with the hopes of harnessing its otherworldly energies for military weaponry. Naturally, they discover that Victor is alive and they bring him back. Big mistake.

Doom has gone mad with power during the year he has spent in isolation on Planet Zero and has returned with the purpose of destroying our world so that he might fashion Planet Zero into a new Earth in his own image. What follows is an almost Scanners-esque horrific slaughter as Doom struts about the complex murdering everyone in sight, before returning to Planet Zero and targeting its destructive powers at our own planet.

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These two wonderful sequences show this writer that Josh Trank has a wonderful Cronenbergian sci-fi horror film within him still waiting to be unleashed. I truly hope that he gets the chance to do so someday and that it makes it to screens unfiltered. I am not convinced that Trank’s initial, unaltered cut of this film is some unseen gem, but I am entirely convinced that both Trank and audiences would have been far better off had he gone and made something original using the same themes he toys with here. If only that had happened.

As is, we are left with some weird melding of Trank’s sci-fi horror sensibilities with a property they do not belong in. This is both a science fiction thriller and a superhero movie, and at the same time it is also neither of those things. Both elements are at war with each other and ultimately neither wins. Worse yet, it is once again another hatchet job of the “Fantastic Four” characters. Miles Teller does a pretty good job as our lead named Reed Richards, but he is not the Reed Richards from the comics.

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Jamie Bell is given short shrift, despite his best efforts, as Ben Grimm, but it matters not, because he is not THE Ben Grimm. Victor, Sue, and Johnny are closer to their counterparts, but they really aren’t given much time to grow as characters that we can relate to. They just are. This is a grim, dark science fiction thriller for the majority of its running time and while it bears the name Fantastic Four, it really isn’t a Fantastic Four movie.

It’s clear that Trank tried his best to bring something new to the table, even if it ultimately proved to not be what the studio wanted. It’s clear that the cast all put their best foot forward to make it work, from the original production up through the large chunk of reshoots. It’s also clear that Fox really had no idea what they wanted from this film and by the time they figured it out, it was way too late in the game to really do anything about it, reshoots be damned.

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More than anything, however, it’s clear that no one involved truly understood the property. Fox wanted to reignite the other potential Marvel superhero series that they owned and to get it going quickly so that they would not lose the rights, as had happened with Daredevil. Trank clearly wanted the opportunity to play in a much larger science fiction sandbox. Much like what happened with Marvel and Edgar Wright on Ant-Man, what resulted was a partnership that just didn’t pan out. The only difference here is that instead of jumping ship when the hurricane winds arrived, Trank stuck it out and hoped for the best. What resulted was a film that has two great scenes surrounded by a whole lot of sanitized mediocrity.

There are three films that have received a full wide release this weekend: Blumhouse’s thriller The Gift, Aardman’s animated comedy Shaun the Sheep, and Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four. I’m here to tell you that you are much better off spending your hard-earned money on The Gift or Shaun the Sheep.

Save your curiosity on this one for home video or VOD.  And before you ask, yes, I had more fun creating the pun-filled title of this review than I did actually watching the film.  I wanted to like it when I sat down to watch it.  Things just didn’t work out that way.

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45 Comments
  • Richard R Beck

    Wow, that bad huh?

    • TheFlashFamilyDead

      Yep. 4.1/10 IMBD..

      • Richard R Beck

        too bad, so sad. I had hopes for this movie. The first set of movies was mediocre at best, I guess I shouldnt expect anything more.

        • Cthulhu0818

          Let’s face it, there’s probably a Marvel title that would work well with a layer of dark morbid horror on it, but the FF ISN’T that title. FF has, and always should be, about what it’s always been about. Family. Whether it’s family you’re born with, or family you chose to have, it’s always been about a group who choses to stick by each other no matter what, and despite how the rest of the world sees them. It’s a bright, ultimately uplifting storyline, and it doesn’t allow for so much darkness.

  • Unassigned
  • suffering

    its outside of MARVEL universe?Johnny is that you?Richards WTF happened to your NOSE?Dr DOOM you practise GREEN LANTERN BDSM in PROMETHEUS MOVIE?what is HAPPENING!!!!!!! TOO MUCH SHIT TO PROCESS….AAARghhhhh……..

  • SubSumeYou

    SMH…

  • James Daget

    I wasnt interested until you compared it to a sci-fi thriller. Ima probably see it tonight to judge for myself!

  • Ken Hill

    This film was doomed from the casting sheet. Miles Teller is younger than Kate Mara. Reed Richards is older than Sue Storm. Johnny Storm isn’t Black. No amount of wishing it wasn’t so will make him black. I’ve said this about the upcoming DC Shitpile they’re calling Superman v. Batman and this movie. IT DOESN’T WORK!!! There a simple reason Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers and even Guardians of the Galaxy worked. The characters look like the characters in the book. Thor: Tall? Check, Ripped? Check, Blonde? Check, Blue Eyes, Check. Captain America: Tall, Check, Pumped? Check, Blonde, Check, Blue Eyes, Check. Scarlett Witch: Sexy? Check, Red Hair? Check. Tony Stark: Snarky and a smartass? Check, Goatee? Check, Technical Genius? Check. We go see superhero movies for a simple reason: We want to see the heroes we read about in the comics come to life on the big screen. We don’t go to see some a-hole casting director’s idea of who the hero should be. Auquaman is a Maine Lighthouse Keeper’s son, not Hawaiian. Flash is a physical specimen, not a scrawny Emo, gay boy! Wonder Woman is gorgeous, built and has tits! Batman isn’t older than Superman!!

    • Richard Feilden

      > gay boy

      You have a problem with casting? Fine. I mean, you’re wrong, but fine. It’s not as though the comics themselves have reinvented these characters time and time again. Nor is it the case that a person (character in a comic book or on the screen) is defined by the colour of their skin, unless that has been written as an *integral* part of the character. I would have loved you to explain to me how it is the colour of Johnny Storm’s skin (when it isn’t on fire) that defines him. I would have.

      But, given that you’re clearly a child who likes to throw out lines like ‘Emo, gay boy’, this response is as much time as I’m willing to waste on you. Grow up.

      • doyourresearchman

        Also if you think the only reason that the Marvel movies so far have worked is that the characters look like their (entirely imaginary) comic book counterparts you’re kind of an idiot. How come neither hulk movie worked? How come green lantern flopped? Why have at least half of the X-Men inspired properties been complete disasters? I thought that was the one reason the other films worked?

        All of those film representations looked like the comic books, most of them were unmitigated disasters. The fact is the majority of the people that go to see those movies don’t know them from the comic books, because most people don’t read comic books.

        • pnut166

          Hulk failed due to bad CGI. Do a version now and it would be a smash hit. Green Lantern was bad all the way around. X-Men ? I can`t believe you claim they look the part; I`m not even going to get into trying to explain how laughably off-base you are there. Looks aren`t THE “one” reason a film works, but oftentimes it`s a big reason these films fail to resonate.

      • pnut166

        Ken`s right, like it or not.

        • Gary Millsapp

          You think black people give one fuck about Johnny Storm being black ??? Both of you sound like the typical little white bread chicken shit fuck tard who thinks that white people are the only people on the planet that matter. We never asked for him to be black. And by the way. The comics have been rewritten over and over again. So what IS the problem with him being black. None. Other than you’re closet racists who really just have a problem with the color if his skin. Get a fucking life and be passionate about something that really matters you fucking terd.

          • pnut166

            Oh brother…excuse me, was that racist ? All anyone did was point out the shitty casting in movies, and suddenly everyone`s a racist. It`s obvious who the real racist is here, fucktard. Now run along and go find a white cop to accuse of something.

          • Gary Millsapp

            Fuck you and any white cop you know you white bitch. Fucking Vampire. Or are you a descendant of one of those faggot ass Caesars. Any way it goes its your fear of black people that have you so caught up in our complexion. I give one fuck about you. But you hide behind a false identity online to hurl racial slurs. Pure bitch move. I logged in with my actual fb account. I dont fear you or retribution for my words. You can eat a dick as I previously stated. And one more thing Im not your fucking brother. We DO NOT share DNA. You fucking Neanderthal. My bloodline is from the original inhabitants of this earth. You’re a mutation. So fuck off ass wipe. And go find a relative to fuck

          • pnut166

            Thanks for proving my point.

          • Gary Millsapp

            All I proved is youre a dumb ass. An internet intellect. Just nothing unless youre hiding behind a computer screen and can anonomously talk shit to people. Well you picked the right one baby

          • pnut166

            Whatever. You kiss your mama with that mouth ?

          • Gary Millsapp

            No. I kiss YOUR mother with this mouth

          • pnut166

            You need help.

          • Johny Goatz

            More like his father aka Gary Millsap HOMO THUG LOLOLOOLZOLZ

          • Johny Goatz

            If it sounds walks like a bitch nigga, talks like bitch nigga, its probably a…. bitch nigga… Go back to prison where you belong, you and your 25 kids (future criminals) with their 25 different baby mommas. BITCH NIGGGGAA!!!

          • Gary Millsapp

            Lmao. A wigger. How funny. A white person born with all privileges but makes a personal choice to associate themselves with the race that is supposed to be sub human. If I have twenty five kids then your father fucks your baby sister. And you smell like Wolf Pussy when you get wet. And you live in a log cabin in Kentucky motherfucker. Go eat a dick Johny Goat. You wish I was even one of those stereotypes. But No. Sorry. Fuck face. You delinquent ass hillbilly. You got the right one.

          • Johny Goatz

            Always playing the victim… as ghetto as they come. Don’t you have some crimes to commit ya BITCH NIGGER? 🙂 Eat a dick and die… don’t you have something productive to do like fuck all dem hoes and get AIDS and die ? Please DO NIGGER:) The world will be a better place for it without ya nigger ass in it.

          • Gary Millsapp

            Very intelligent. Lmao. Like I said you Kentucky Hill Billy Bitch. Get off my dick and tell your bitch to come here. The word nigger doesnt faze me at all dummy. It just says to me that you and your fucked up kind couldnt pronounce the word for “King” which is NEGUS. LMMFAO ! Thanks for bowing to me ! You dumb motherfucker. You raw meat eating. Close kin fucking. Skin Cancer stricken. Hot Dog complected. Extra Chromosome having ass Troglodyte. Go learn something

          • Johny Goatz

            Look they let the ghetto monkeys out of his cage… what zoo did they let you out of Mister Turd Flingling Ghetto monkey? Fuck off bitch NIGGGGG—AAAAAAAA. Product of a single mother for sure.

          • Gary Millsapp

            And youre a product of an illiterate trailor trash alcoholic one. Names dont hurt me fag. I dont give words power over me physically or mentally. You dont know me and have zero clues of me or who I am so I give zero fucks about what you think. Youre clearly the product of Neanderthal Ancestors. You white Captain Caveman looking motherfucker. Go molest a family or whatever it is you honkeys do in your spare time

          • 0ldboy26

            It was clearly stated it was bad because he was black. That’s racist.

      • DarkNozomi

        Because Johnny and Susan Storm are siblings, they kind of have to be the same race. I’d have been fine with them both being black, but one black and one white is stupid. Someone along the way would have realized they weren’t related.

        I haven’t watched the Flash, but if he’s written as a homosexual character, that would definitely be changing the character since the comic Flash was straight and had heterosexual relationships.

        I agree with the previous poster to a point; casting directors shouldn’t be so quick to assume they know better than 4 or 5 decades of comic book success.

        • Richard Feilden

          Well, apart from the fact that you can have *twins* where one has white skin and the other black, you can certainly have half-siblings or adopted siblings.

          And no, the Flash isn’t written as gay. Ken is just throwing it out as a homophobic slur. The character is heterosexual.

          Comic books reinvent their characters all the time. That’s how they’ve kept them relevant all these years. Films do the same. And the comic book reading audience is tiny compared to the film watching audience – these films don’t succeed or fail on their readers backs. The highest selling comics have a readership in the half-million range, and most of the big ones are around the 100,000 mark.

        • Ha ha ha ha… nope
        • Daniel Baldwin

          The film clearly points out that its version of Sue is adopted.

    • Ein on Shrooms

      Ken Hill=Dumbass.

    • Jason Bjornsson

      Would you agree that The Rock should not be anywhere near the casting for a Marvel Hercules film; or any Hercules film IMO?

    • Brian Simpson

      Do you think anyone knew – or cared – that Miles Teller is younger than Kate Mara? It’s not as if Miles is 15, and Kate’s 50. Yes, I understand your overall point, but that seems silly. And I know having a black Johnny Storm is different but it’s not outside the possibility in mixed race families to have a black child and a white child. Essentially, both mixed but one leaning heavily one way and the other leaning heavily the other way. And hasn’t it been known that this Sue Storm was adopted?

      Batman ages, so what? This seems quite like a non-issue.

      Sorry Gal Gadot’s not pretty enough for you. Nor busty enough, apparently. That’s special.

      And I guess you’re unfamiliar with the fact that gay people can actually lift weights and get in shape, much like you straight people. I know, I know, it’s mind-blowing that Ezra Miller could do exactly what Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Pratt all did.

      • Cthulhu0818

        MY problem with Gadot isn’t her bust size or her looks. It’s that she’s TINY. Diana of Themyscira is an Amazon. Not hulking, but she’s going to have the arms and wrists of a swordsman, shoulders of an archer, the legs of a marathon runner, and so on. Female, but the pinnicle of female physique. Think Rhonda Rousey. She stands 6′ tall barefoot. 6’2″ in heels (Don’t get me started on that mess.) Gadot is….what, 5’9″? 5’10” tops?
        I’m willing to be convinced, but with the fails of the other DC properties turned into film of late, I’m dubious at best.

    • yung antigone

      yeah, and bugs bunny hated the blacks! he would never team-up with michael jordan to play basketball!

      • Gary Millsapp

        Bugs Bunny was a cartoon character you fucking inbred white piece of pigeon shit. Or didn’t your mother/auntie teach you that

    • Gary Millsapp

      Sounds like you really like tall blonde pumped blue eyed men. Lmao. Fucking homo

    • Ha ha ha ha… nope
      • Cthulhu0818

        Falcon as Cap? Lana, you wanna take this one?
        No offence to you, Sam Wilson, but you deserve to be the hero you are in your own right, you frikkin EARNED it. The Falcon is you, and nobody else. By those lights, Sorry, but there’s only one Captain America, and that’s Steve Rogers.
        Cap/Steve: Super soldier formula, peak of human physical development, combat expert, unarmed combat expert, TACTICAL GENIUS (Which may be his greatest power. When Thor, Iron Man and the Hulk defer to you in combat, you got something going on there.) and most of all, his force of personality. Steve Rogers is the living embodiment of everything that’s good and possible in America. Nobody else comes close to that. And THAT is why he’s Captain America.

    • 0ldboy26

      the guardians were reworked in the comics to look and act like their movie counterparts so that point is lost. Also their looks have nothing to do with their success as comic book readers are not the reason they are successful. Most people paying for them do not and could not care less what they look or act like in the comics as long as the movie is good. Fantasic Four had a good cast, the real issue was the boring plot and lack of action until the end.

  • Ken Hill

    I am SOOO glad that my posting on the truly abominable Craptastic Four spawned so many comments. Let’s review, I’m not racist. I have no problem with War Machine being black or Falcon being black, that’s how they were written. FF has been around since 1961 and at one time was the world’s most popular comic, why tinker with that success. It seems like pandering to me. X-men and the movies it’s spawned are not by Marvel studios, I’m sure Avi Arad had some issues with the way they were handled, but was overridden. As far as Ezra Miller, he is gay, he looks emo. Go to Yahoo and punch up an image of the Flash! He’s 6’2″ and weighs about 200 and he is a physical specimen! No amount of working out is going to make Ezra Miller (who on a good day is 5’10” and a buck 50) look like the scarlett speedster. Barry is from the midwest, Blond hair and blue eyes. Ezra Miller is like the Anti-Flash! As far as Gal Gadot, she’s beautiful, but she is tooooooo skinny! You think with thousands of actresses in Hollywood they could find one tall, stacked, woman to play an Amazon! Megan Gale is 5’11”, has worn the star-spangled tights before and filled them out! Zach Snyder is trying to make Superman be the Dark Knight who Flys. He doesn’t get Superman. I understand the story, but he destroyed half of Metropolis stopping Zod, no one would make statues to him, not unless he was helping rebuild the city, and if he was responsible for the death of that many people, would you want him in your city?

    • Cthulhu0818

      Nothing says, “I’m not a racist bigot” like coming BACK to your previous pile of droppings and repeating the same pile of racist, homophobic, white trash spewing.
      Learn to quit while you’re behind.

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