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Fantastic Four: The Planet Zero of Superhero Films

August 22, 2015

Fantastic Four movie poster

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Now that The Fantastic Four has been in the theaters  for a few weeks and the dust has settled I’ve decided to write a review. I know the reports of infighting, reshoots and odd behavior helped mold opinion and had a lot of sway into the final product. However, I want to stay away from the speculation and talk about the movie that was dumped into the theaters. It is a weird little thing that is devoid of life and lacks the necessary wonder, charm and action to make it memorable. It is full of personable actors yet gives us nothing memorable. When compared to “bad” superhero movies like X-Men: The last Stand at least they offered some truly odd decisions and Vinnie Jones saying “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch.” The comic book movie I’d compare F4 to is The Green Lantern. Both films had plenty of talent yet did nothing more than create 90 minutes of nothing.

Do you remember the scene in Josh Trank’s Chronicle where the newly powered teenagers discover they can fly and they take off into the sky? It is a moment of pure joy and awe that was punctuated by an airplane bursting through a cloud and almost smacking the teenagers. Their youthful exuberance and sudden knowledge of their powers almost caused them a whole lot of pain and carnage. You bought into the moment because you believe three kids who could fly would do so with reckless abandon.

Chronicle flying gif

The teenagers in Chronicle got drunk, found a hole with a glowing rock in it and had to learn to deal with their troubles. There was joy, anger, anguish and most importantly fun. Director Josh Trank worked wonders with found footage superheroes and it made some sense that he was tapped to resurrect The Fantastic Four.

The biggest problem with The Fantastic Four is that is features none of the life that Chronicle had. The remake couldn’t even capture the bubble gum saccharine of the most recent Fantastic Four films. It is a movie that wants to play like The Fly met Chronicle and added some Fantastic Four elements. It gives Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell and Reg E. Cathey nothing to do and I am 100% certain that this film bombing will do nothing to slow their career progressions. This is the rare film where the actors will walk away unscathed while the director takes the fall. If anything the actors have now mastered the art of staring at computers while typing in algorithms for inter-dimensional travel.

Fantastic Four Kate Mara

Kate Mara (House of Cards) is a good actress and all she does is type, type and type while listening to Portishead.

Fantastic Four never takes flight and places the likable actors  in front of computer screens or green screens and never allows wonder, humor or immaturity. The moment I liked most is when the guys get drunk after hearing they won’t be able to travel to Planet Zero. What do they do when they get drunk? They decide to get in their machine and go to the other dimension. It all goes terribly wrong and shows them making mistakes due to immaturity, booze and hubris. I believe that a bunch of overly intelligent twentysomethings would risk their necks in order to be remembered.

Instead of learning how they get used to their powers (like Chronicle) they cut to a year later where The Thing is working on government military ops. The military is sending The Thing out to crush terrorists and I 100% thought we would have a PTSD subplot centering around a kid turned into a rock turned into a killing machine. Imagine a scene where The Thing has to kill for the first time. How would he handle that? However, there is zero time spent on this idea and we quickly move on to some world destroying shenanigans.

The end is a bunch of green screen hooey involving Toby Kebbell’s Dr. Doom trying to suck the earth into Planet Zero by a black hole (of course). The team unites and the battle is over in five minutes. The battle reminded me of the first Fantastic Four ending and The Heroes season one battle finale. They both underwhelmed and had the luxury to build up to those underwhelming moments. The 2015 Fantastic Four rushes us to the ending and it is over before you can even pretend to care about it.

Fantastic Four isn’t enough of a train wreck to be fun and isn’t fun enough to make you feel anything. Go watch Ant-Man again. It is fun and the final battle actually wrecks a toy train which is amazing.

 

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