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Movie Review: Fantastic Four 2015 (Spoiler Free)

Updated on August 18, 2015

Foreword

Oh boy did this film get a bad rep before I ever saw it, or even before it was properly released to theaters. Kinda dissapointing, given that I was excited because of Josh Trank (who directed a personal favorite of mine, Chronicle) and that many of the casted actors for the titular group were well cast. Well, with those expectations here's my review.

The movie poster for the newest Fantastic Four.
The movie poster for the newest Fantastic Four. | Source

My Initial Impression

....Meh. I hesitate to call any film terrible, even with the whole host of the internet seeming like a mob with torches and pitchforks. It's certainly not good, I can say that. There's a multitude of reasons why this film is a disappointment and I'll explain them as I go, but most noticeably, it suffers from lack of heart and a lot of design choices that didn't seem to make sense.

Although I will say, despite everyone moaning and complaining about the Thing not having pants, it really wasn't an issue for me. Maybe because the rest of the film was so mind-numbing but a pants-less Thing is more of a red herring for the rest of the film's failures and inadequacies.

The Plot

So, without specific spoilers, we begin. The film starts off early in Reed Richard's life and more emphatically shows the worst teacher ever put to screen (he puts Umbridge but also gains/loses points for being incomprehensibly stupid). We fast forward and Richards is involved in making a large scale teleportation device with the other inhabitants of the Baxter Building. After making it work, the inventors decide to use it and encounter a situation on this 'Planet Zero' (not sure why they couldn't just call it the Negative Zone but whatever) which then kickstarts this film from Act 1 to Act 3 (and no that's not a typo). They fight the bad guy real quick and the film is over.

Um, that's it. The plot is missing several things such as:

  • the previously mentioned Act 2
  • Character development
  • Pacing
  • Sympathizable characters, both good and bad
  • A name for the villainous government stooge
  • a resolution 'Chekhov's homemade-in-the-woods teleporter'

The newest version of Ben Grimm, the Thing.
The newest version of Ben Grimm, the Thing. | Source

Performance

I had so much faith in this film to be something good, something worth getting excited for! Michael B. Jordan has proved to me (in Chronicle and in That Awkward Moment) that he can be flamboyant. Loud, expressive, even explosive, it just made sense to cast him as the Human Torch (the whole racial controversy pushed to the side because race was never important to the character).

In everything I've ever seen him in, Miles Teller is the highly charismatic egotistical jerk, always playing a character that you enjoy love or love to hate. His character, Reed Richards in the comics has a tendency to look down at his fellow teammates for their lack of understanding of his higher thought processes, or at the very least is so ambivalent to others that he comes across as a jerk. It made sense!

What happened? Everything is put into such a dour mood.No one is happy. You watch the trailer (included below) and you might get a smart-alek comment here or there or a character grinning. Those are literally the only scenes of anyone happy in this film if you see it, and most of them are taken out of context. Every scene Johnny Storm is in is dark and grim and it's just always that way. As soon as one or two situations have a resolution that seems worthy to celebrate, the plot immediately reinserts itself to remind everyone they're supposed to be sad and depressed. Well, the actors do work accordingly so bully for that.

After his transformation, Dr. Doom looking over his shoulder.
After his transformation, Dr. Doom looking over his shoulder. | Source

Portrayal of Doom

I'll say the positives before the negatives.

Doom was finally powerful in this film (even if it's just for 7 seconds without any kind of explanation whatsoever). Doom is one of the most intriguing and powerful villains in the Marvel comics universe and his feats are incredibly high across the board. Reed is only a match for Doom intellectually. Doom of 2005 was goofy and had magnetic/electric powers that didn't seem to make much sense. We're at least given a scene of Doom's power unleashed.

However, everything else about him sucked. When the character of Victor Von Doom is revealed, I stared at the screen incredulously (and if you're a fan of the character, you will too). Everything after his intro before his transformation is lackluster, and the film only whispers at the notions of making his interest in Sue Storm apparent, or his contempt for Reed Richards understandable. He's just so bad and lacks any kind of charisma that suck a character could have. Even though Julian McMahon's portrayal in 2005 was full of cheese, aesthetically he was okay, and he had some kind of charisma, even if his character was done wrong. It wasn't as wrong as this though.

And why must Doom be the bad guy? Is it because he's the most recognizable antagonist in the Fantastic Four series? Is that why he can't ever be properly built up with a rich history (which this rendition has absolutely 0 material for other than he's smart)? We could've had Mole Man who would've been a good starting antagonistic force, or maybe even Annihilus or Blastaar (as they kinda went to the Negative Zone?).

If there's any reason for Fox to sell the rights back to the MCU, it would be for finally to serve this villain the recognition he deserves.

PG-13

It's rated mostly for the sci fi violence but there's a noticeable amount of body horror (which kinda makes sense given the source material) and a man's head blows up inside his radiation suit.

Still, I'd be more worried for kids that may be depressed easily, as this film does not feature joy or really any kind of pleasantness at all.

There was so much stuff cut from this trailer that didn't make it into the film

Closing Thoughts

Look, I don't know if it was Josh Trank's fault, or if it was Fox studio executives. There was a lot of good potential. Trank said he wanted to make a sci fi film first with superpowered people in it (which would have been somewhat fresher) and as said before, I really like the casted characters and visuals have improved since Michael Chiklis's rubber suit in 2005. But, I got something factory made, one that forgot its heart and the reason why I would care about anything that was happening.

Despite the cloud of negativity, I was hoping that I would be able to find some redeeming factors that others refused to acknowledge but no, this film was just a disappointment, perhaps even more so for me because i recognized the potential that it had.

If this film gets a sequel (which I doubt because of its overwhelmingly poor reception), I'd be hard pressed to see it. I feel that the potential materials were present, but someone or someones couldn't figure out how to put the puzzle together properly.

Tl;dr

  • Promising set-up with a one-time proven director and a strong cast
  • The entire stretch of the film is most starkly depressing moment in films this summer
  • So much wasted potential
  • Goes Act 1 for more than half the film, skips Act 2, and quickly ties up Act 3
  • Lots of advertised moments in trailers are missing from the film
  • Drull and unexciting
  • Not terrible, but even Trainwrecked is better (and I'm not an Amy Schumer fan)

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Further Reading

Check out some of my other reviews of summer films in 2015.

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