Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Fantastic Four 2015

Fantastic Four ~ As a few of my friends have mentioned, like Andy Burns at Biff Bam Pop! and Skott Stotland at The Nerd Signal, this movie wasn't as bad as a lot of folks have been saying - but that said, it is still pretty bad.

Up front, this troubled production from co-writer/director Josh Trank is not a Fantastic Four movie in the traditional sense, nor is it any kind of superhero movie either. In the same sense that his highly acclaimed Chronicle was an anti-superhero movie, so is his Fantastic Four. Taking its cues loosely from the Ultimate Fantastic Four comics rather than the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby original stories, this is a tale of Reed Richards, played by the much-hated-in-some-circles Miles Teller. This socially awkward young genius is given the resources to build his invention, a dimensional teleporter, which has consequences that eventually transform his friends and colleagues into …something else.

Just as it sounds, this is more science fiction than superhero, and there's a little bit of horror here as well with overtones of the 1980s version of The Fly thrown in for good measure. Comparing it to the comics or the characters therein is a silly exercise at this point, because let's face it, Trank didn't even go there. Any resemblance to those sources appear to have been added later by the studio. Much like Chronicle, Trank appears to have gone his own way.

The characters, save Teller's Reed, are two-dimensional, their only personality being that overlaid subconsciously by viewers who know them from the comics. They are one note and we don't care about them. Reed on the other hand fulfills his destiny as a screw-up, perhaps more blatantly here than in the comics, and really engenders no sympathy beyond that. The acting is minimal, the special effects are in places, well done and elsewhere cartoony.

I have to say I liked Kate Mara better as Sue Storm than I did Jessica Alba in 2005 and 2007, and I'm one of the few apparently that liked those movies. With all the hubbub about the character's race change, Michael B. Jordan comes off rather well, but the Human Torch special effects while invoking the comics imagery look like bad animation after a while. The Thing is an effective, yet disturbing cross between the Nome King in Return to Oz and the rock creature in Galaxy Quest. Only Toby Kebbel's Doom, before transformation, radiates any real charisma, but that gets fixed pretty quickly.

Not only does much of the cast lack charisma, they also lack chemistry. While romantic intentions are hinted at, nothing is done, nor is it advanced. While I had been following along the science fiction story for the first hour or so of the movie, there is a point where it all falls apart, and that's where Doom returns from the other world - a weak pastiche of the Negative Zone called Planet Zero. Suddenly Doom is the bad guy, unmotivated, he is just evil. Cartoon fights ensue, and I checked out.

Again, Doom is inserted into the Fantastic Four origin. And again badly. He emerged from the other world covered in metal without a mouth, an actor, one of the more likable in the flick, now unable to act. The Thing and Human Torch are given similar handicaps. I found this surprising as one of the tropes of superhero movies (of which this is not) is the constant removal of masks so the actor can emote or show off their good looks. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Tobey Maguire.

There is one nice touch, a minor Easter egg, in the movie. The antagonist in the movie other than Doom, the government suit who tries to use the FF's powers for his own bidding is named Harvey Elder. Sharp-eyed hardcore FF fans know that this is the real name of the super-villain the Mole Man. Also look for the Deadpool trailer before the film, if you're looking for more Marvel content. There's not much, even Stan Lee stayed away from this one.

Unlike other Marvel-connected movies (although it should be noted, as a Fox film, this is not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe), there is no after-credits or mid-credits stinger. As a matter of fact, I noticed that once the movie proper was over, people could not wait to get out of the theater. I did learn one surprising thing from the credits however. Minimalist composer Philip Glass (a favorite) did some of the score. I did like it and will have to go back and listen to it some more.

Did I hate it? Certainly not as much as my friend Ray Cornwall who eviscerates it on the latest episode of The GAR! Podcast, but I didn't like it. This was not a good movie, nor was it a good superhero movie, and it was most definitely not a good Fantastic Four movie. Not recommended. Wait for Netflix or cable if you must see it.

1 comment:

  1. As usual, we're pretty much eye-to-eye in our opinions, Glenn. I haven't written a review of the movie yet but I plan to tomorrow. I saw the movie last Friday but unlike my usual practice, I didn't write a review right away. I wanted to take some time and really go over my thoughts about it. What i really feel about it is utter disappointment. There were some ideas and scenes that hinted at a much better movie than the one we eventually got.