I completely understand everyone else who has seen this movie now. If I had seen it with the expectation that the trailer gave me instead of the expectation I got later after seeing the Rotten Tomatoes score, I would have been mad too.
|As they say in the movies: It's clobberin' time!
I while ago I watched a conspiracy theory video that humorously suggested the idea that all Fantastic Four movies are actually satires of what superhero movie of their day are; purposefully being terrible films to point out flaws and pitfalls, thus setting the movie world back in order. Like a League of Shadows in film form. I thought it was a neat idea, but probably untrue. Until I saw Fant4stic. Now I'm not so sure, because if this movie was trying to fully be all the worst things you can see in a superhero movie today in order to satirize it, it couldn't have done a better job.
First off, it's very cookie-cutter in form. Starting with backstory -- kid genius Reed Richards (Miles Teller) builds a transporter to an unknown location, and when he figures out how to reverse the transport, Dr. Storm (Reg E. Cathey) recruits him to his lab where he's been working unsuccessfully on the same project. Then they "build the team" (and the transporter) using typical and cliched methods. There's Sue (Kate Mara) Dr. Storm's adopted daughter, Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) his careless, out of control son. Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) is a sullen, cynical outcast type. And of course there's Reed's childhood friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) who supported Reed's dream though his years as a laughing stock, and therefore couldn't be left out of his moment of success.
|Miles Teller, please stop being in terrible movies.
Then once they're all together, stupidity happens! The transporter works, and the bad guy (the two-act bad guy who fills in for Doom until he's ready that is) (Tim Blake Nelson) wants to get NASA involved to send people through to explore the whole new world on the other side. And he's totally right to want this. It's literally a new, unknown world there, you would need to send through people who are trained for every imaginable eventuality and disciplined to be cautious and cool-headed. You would not want to send a bunch of big-headed nerds whose brains are too filled with genius to be bothered with trivial things like common sense. Perfectly, the only not smart person there, Ben, is the only one with any common sense or caution, but of course his wisdom is ignored and the trip ends with disaster and the gaining of superpowers. Yay!
This is about halfway through the movie now, because, as you know, if you want to make a serious superhero movie you have to have lots of setup and wait as long as possible to reveal the comic-book-y stuff. And here, the comic-book-y stuff is where it gets really disappointing. The CGI is the worst thing ever. The Thing looks pretty good -- generally realistic, but the design is a little dopey with the human eyes -- but Mr. Fantastic's stretchiness is so bad that it's almost not even funny. Almost. The effects elsewhere are randomly spotty. Also Sue's Glinda-bubble is way too silly and way too reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz to belong in such a straight-faced movie. (Unless of course, the straight face is a facade...)
|Convenient that I can't find photos of any of this silly stuff... isn't it?
Let's talk about character. To get them out of the way, Sue is dull as expected; Johnny is charmless though he's mean to be charming. Comic relief from him (and elsewhere) is written painfully bad and is only a relief when it's over. Doom is trite, and then boring, and lacks anything compelling. Reed was confusing. I kept watching him, thinking "Miles Teller isn't a bad actor. He's not even acting badly. He can brighten up a Divergent movie for goodness sake! Why is this so bad?" It was a clash of the actor's talent and the script's extreme terribleness, and I'm pretty sure Teller handled it as well as can be expected, but the script still won.
I really want to talk about Ben. No exaggeration, the two or three minutes where Jamie Bell's face was on screen where the only times this film showed even a spark of liveliness. He actually used facial expressions and didn't have to battle with the script too much. In fact, the script served him a little by giving him some interesting character development, where he feels left behind when Reed leaves, yet once he joins him, he feels out of place and out of depth. This almost goes in a good direction after the superpowers come, because as we all know, Ben's powers are the biggest burden. Literally. And we really feel for him when he's abandoned by Reed, especially after he himself was such a good, encouraging friend. But later this conflict that could be compelling turns into a petty squabble, before being resolved by -- wait for it -- absolutely nothing, for one final disappointing slap to the face.
|As The Thing his voice is heavily edited as well. It was like he just disappeared from the movie.
The movie ends so lazily, with the four coming up with their team name in the most painfully contrived way conceivable. ("Fantastic Four" is such an obvious name -- none of those geniuses could think of it off the top of their head? They had to do a whole bit? Really?) It also ends at the exact spot where it seems like if it had continued it might have actually gotten better from there, but instead leaves with the promise of sequel that we know will never happen which is sad in so many ways.
Coming back to the conspiracy, I have to mention that while this movie was very bad in almost every aspect, it truly felt as though it was exactly what it meant to be. The writing was cliched and horrendous, but in a practiced, even professional way. And the movie was unbearably dull and lifeless, but was unapologetic and confident about it. There was nothing worthwhile in the whole film except one minute of Jamie Bell's screen time, and the film's strange, unjustified sense of confidence. Watching it as a satire and thinking that maybe the terribleness was done purposefully helped me enjoy way more than I possibly could have otherwise, but the fact remains: Bad movies are bad movies. And Fant4stic... it's bad.