Movie Review: Fantastic Four (2015)

Fantastic Four (2015)

Rated PG-13: For Violence and Minimal Language

Running Time: 100 minutes (1 hour and 40 minutes )

Genre/s: Action, Adaptation, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Superhero

Released on August 7, 2015 (US Release Date, Available For Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by 20th Century Fox

Writers: Simon Kinberg, Josh Trank and Jeremy Slater

Director: Josh Trank

  • Miles Teller as Reed Richards / Mister Fantastic
  • Kate Mara as Susan Storm / Invisible Woman
  • Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm / The Thing
  • Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm / Human Torch
  • Toby Kebbell as Victor Von Doom
  • Reg E. Cathey as Franklin Storm
  • Tim Blake Nelson as Harvey Allen
You knew this was coming sooner or later. Besides, we have not been able to review a "bad" movie yet, and all the films we tackled are either great, good, or okay. 

This film has been called as the "Worst Movie of 2015". I was not entirely surprised that this movie would fail, but I did not expect it to become a part of the Hollywood Hall of Shame, and it really was bad. I really did wanted to watch this movie badly, not that I am hyped or anything (but I will admit, the trailers were okay at best), just to see if this movie is really as terrible as everyone says. Fortunately, we were able to watch this on basic cable, on Father's Day. Yep, we spent Father's Day watching a bland superhero movie, but we did enjoy making fun of it. But the question is, "Is this really that bad?" Find-out here in Dateline Movies' first review of a heavily panned movie, specifically the, for some reason, dark and humorless reboot that is stylized as FANT4STIC!

What is the movie about?

Child protegee Reed Richards, played by Teller (Whiplash), with his best friend Ben Grimm, played by Bell (Snowpiercer) dreams of creating a better, brighter future. Unfortunately for Reed, everyone, including his high school teachers, belittle him, and they see him as a mad scientist in the making.

Reed's invention is a machine that generates a portal to an unknown world, which has been in development ever since Ben and Reed were children. Finally, they have finished the construction of a test generator, which they used in a science fair, leading to unmet expectations. While one door closes, another opens as Reed is invited into the Baxter Institute, a think-tank, by Dr. Franklin Storm, played by Cathey (Outcast), who is the father of step-siblings Johnny, played by Jordan (Fruitvale Station) and Susan, played by Mara (The Martian). Hoping that Reed's ideas would convince his superior Doctor Harvey Allen, played by Nelson (The Incredible Hulk) and continue to give life into their institute, Storm assembles a team of young geniuses. This team also includes sociopathic and antisocial intellect Victor Von Doom, played by Kebbell (Ben-Hur), who was almost named officially as Victor Domashev in the movie. (Sigh. It is a good thing that never came to pass.)

Unfortunately for the team, there is something so powerful in the other side of the cosmos, and its power is beyond limitless. While exploring the area known as "Planet Zero", a large desolate world full of slimy green ooze, Victor then touches said substance and unexpectedly causes the landscape's destruction, and the team's exposure to the large quantities of this mysterious power source.

Now with newfound powers, Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny must contend with the many struggles a typical superhero group would normally face, and must keep it together in order to put a halt to a resurfaced Doom's plan for world domination!

What we think of the movie?

Acting = (1/5)

Andrew Neiman from the Academy Award-winning Whiplash? Adonis Creed from the amazing sequel to the Rocky Franchise, Creed? Beth Johanssen from the science-fiction spectacle known as The Martian? The voice of Tintin from the fun animated feature of the same name? Koba from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes? Chief Giles from me and my dad's favorite prime time show - Outcast? The director of Chronicle? Man, this movie is packed with an amazing array of talents. There is no way that this flick would bomb in the box office, or worse, our expectations. This is surely the Fantastic Four movie we have all been waiting for. But sadly, none of the talents that gave them recognition in all their other works is used here, as emotionless communication substitutes actual acting, and polished storytelling is replaced with a half-baked fan-fiction.

For the acting segment of this movie review, let us kick things off with arguably the best performance, and the only one has the strongest energy in the entire movie, is Michael B. Jordan's portrayal of the hothead that is the Human Torch. Prior to the movie's release, the announcement that Jordan, an African-American gentleman, would be playing the Human Torch, a Caucasian male, was met with considerable skepticism from longtime fans, including us. Given that this is a major drift away from the original source material, the issue was loud and clear. However, after watching the movie, Jordan's effort to portray a rebellious, daring fellow, is clear as day, especially since that he is the only actor in the entire movie that actually payed-off. In addition, he seems to be the only character so far that is filled with the most emotional depth, as evidenced by the scene that featured Johnny and his father arguing about his father confiscating his car. It is in that scene that we learn that he and his father do not get along as he thinks that Franklin appreciates Susan more, but is never elaborated on that afterwards. Had the script been written better, Jordan might have given a much more decent performance, and would have been a memorable portrayal of the character.

It is time for the remaining cast mates. Let us first start with the supposed protagonist of the movie, given that FANT4STIC is almost entirely dedicated to developing this single character. Alas, Miles Teller's portrayal of a seemingly mad scientist with a heart is tragically devoid of any wit and charm. Look, I know he is still a young actor and he is simply starting out, but he deserves so much more than this. He received accolades for Whiplash for his performance as a persistent and ambitious drummer, and Teller could have delivered the same vibe into this movie, given that both characters have some near similarities. But no, all Teller does throughout the movie is blandly explain several scientific terminologies for the sake of plot dumping audiences. In fact, while a very lengthy prelude is dedicated to him discovering the otherworldly domain that is Planet Zero (Planet Zero? Come on, the name Negative Zone sounds better), we barely get to take a peak at what makes Reed, well, Reed, and the movie does nothing to show how complex Mister Fantastic really is. Well yeah, we did learn that he wants to be remembered for his achievements, but how it was just mentioned without audiences seeing the real story sounds more like an excuse for character development, than actual character development. Also, Miles Teller does not match the profile of a nerdy mad scientist in the making, as what I have seen of him so far here is just him, trying too hard to act smart. This makes him a huge miscast for the movie, even if he is a good actor in his own right.
I do not know much about Kate Mara's resume, aside from some bits and pieces of her being featured in the acclaimed television drama House of Cards, but I have to say she looks seemingly close to the Ultimate Comics version of the Invisible Woman. Sadly, her delivery is somewhat lacking in a spark that made readers everywhere love the comicbook counterpart of the character, as well as a distinct personality. She did show some signs of being the more responsible of the two, which creates some of the film's equivalent of chemistry, but the portrayal of the character here is easily replaceable. Heck, Susan Storm is suppose to be the love interest of Reed Richards, and is the inevitable apple of Victor Von Doom's eyes, and this Susan Storm did not connect with either character to the point that I just see her more as that phantom who endlessly haunts me to remind yours truly that she is in the movie.

For Jamie Bell, he actually did attempt to resonate closely with the audience, especially during the part when Ben Grimm is terrified at his transformation, and is angry at how Reed just left him and the rest of his friends to become outcasts. This seemed like a very pivotal scene on script that reflects the fact that Reed has a tendency to leave his friends behind, like every other good mad scientists in the world of movies. But like every single potential tear-jerker this movie had, it is abandoned in thin air, worse than how your crush just leaves you hanging (If you are going to ask me if I have a love life, the answer is a big no, in a sense). Reed and Ben are supposed to be best friends, but nothing showed how close the duo are, no matter how much screen time the two friends shared as "friends". Seriously, all they do is talk about their intergalactic space gateway experiment, and not much else about regular friend stuff.

But if you think that is the worst of it, you have not seen Doctor Doom. From the trailers themselves, I immediately knew that they would mess-up the Iron Fist of Latveria for the fourth time in a row (If you are going to include the iteration from the infamous Roger Corman-headed ashcan flick, that makes it four, as in, "The Flop-tastic Four"). Once again, instead of giving us the malevolent and ego-maniacal dictator slash mad scientist slash sorcerer that we all love to hate, we get yet another sad excuse for a villain. Later on I will dig deep on how much the computer-generated imagery in the movie is terrible, and that includes the other characters' designs, but for now, let us go to the acting for Doctor Doom.

Well I am not going to say that Toby Kebbell did not try the best that he can, because clearly he wanted to make this poor man's Doom at least bearable. If you listen carefully to his voice in the character's post-Doom transformation, you have got to admit that it was a nice shot, as it completely echoes the powerful might of the comicbook version in some ways. But outside of the voice? That is a completely different story. Like the rest of the actors, Kebbell feels as if he would rather be somewhere else at the time of filming, which is really saying something. Aside from a few eyelash movements, all he does throughout the movie, before being transformed into the main villain, is softly speak antisocial remarks, make use of only a single facial expression, and absolutely nothing else. This type of Doctor Doom who hates society for being careless seems to be okay, if only there was enough energy to actually translate that wrath into acting.

Source 1, Source 2
Now that we have our "Fantastic" Four out of the way, as well as our main villain, let us move-on to the last top-billed cast mates, and those are Reg E. Cathey and Tim Blake Nelson. Actually, Cathey's performance as the Storm children's father Franklin did not necessarily energized the movie from its shear dullness, nor did his presence made things much more vapid. Cathey's Franklin Storm did little outside of simply mentoring the protagonists, but it was one of the few bits of the movie that had the right amount of energy, although there is no denying that his role here is very much cliched.

That goes the same as well for Tim Blake Nelson's stereotypical portrayal of a corrupt businessman. Fun fact, when I heard that Tim Blake Nelson was suppose to being playing a guy named "Harvey Elder", I was slightly excited because this would be a rare time for another Fantastic Four villain to join-in, given that Harvey Elder is the Four's first adversary in the comics, Mole Man. But of course, we get him to play yet another greedy man of business, with only money on his mind. Nothing special, just plain straightforwardness. Also, what is up with Blake Nelson by the third act of the movie? Why is he endlessly biting air? Does he have gum? I do not know. It is just distracting and very out-of-place.

All in all, the main actors are admittedly great in what they do, outside of this one, obviously. It is really just too bad that none of them have the enthusiasm to, at the very least, make this movie worthwhile, even if almost all of them are miscast. I mean, this movie would be so much better had any of them livened things up. It really is a shame that the screenplay did not see the necessity of that acting dynamic, which resulted into irksome performances.

Production Value and Cinematography = (1/5)

While the acting was as cloudy as the Philippines' current weather pattern, the character designs look something out of a local Halloween costume shop, and those costumes would look actually much, much better compared to what I just laid my eyes on here.

Let us discuss each visual offender from the "not-so bad" to the "outright awful". First, we have The Thing's monstrous design, which perfectly reflects your inner nine year old's worst nightmare. But I will admit it, the Thing's look here accurately depicts a much more credible rendition of the character, if ever the Fantastic Clobber'er exists in our reality. However, I would really appreciate this design even more, if only they asked him to wear pants. This is just like Doctor Manhattan's design in Zack Snyder's Watchmen. There is already a lot of shots featuring the "below-the-belt" portions that feel like there really is nothing left to see on my television screen.

Next, we have the overall design for Planet Zero, which is just as worn-out as the rest of us who were watching the movie. Planet Zero, based on the design shown in the flick, is supposed to be a barren dessert planet filled with green-colored energy ooze. That would actually sound good, if only the CGI was rendered properly. Every shot that featured the aforementioned interplanetary domain looks unrealistically cartoonish. This is especially visible in the part when Doom touched the previously mentioned green liquid, wherein you can see that the shot looks like an arm obviously reaching through a green screen. You might as well include any moment that featured the green substance, because any scene that features this aforementioned liquid already looks unrealistic and terrible.

By the third act, we see Reed Richards hiding in South America, in search of a way to reverse the effects of the Planet Zero energy that gave them powers. There, he uses a slightly morphed face to purchase a required item, and when Reed returns to his car, we see him change his face back. While this is an interesting glimpse into the partial extent of his powers, which is by the way not in any of the comics I have read, there is no doubt that the CGI almost looks something out of an N64 video game, and that is saying something.

And lastly, we have the worst of the worst in our rotten bunch of computer-generated failures. Doctor Doom, whose awesome robotic suit and perfectly-matched green cape, have been traded for a cheap knockoff of the original costume. Not only did they once again gave him powers, and made his skin pure metal, which is unlike the comics counterpart, only had a mechanized suit, they transformed him into a horribly disfigured and the much more nightmarish version of Freddy Krueger. It would have been a very nice touch to fuse his skin with metal, just like in the previous movies, as well as the Ultimate Comics, from which majority of the movie is inspired from, but could they have at least make him look terrifying and not hilariously bad? In fact, it does not even look hilariously bad, it is simply bad beyond reason. I mean, look at the .gif above. Just look at it and try saying that it is a "good" design for Doctor Doom. It does not help as well that the screenplay completely butchered everything that made Doctor Doom a force to be reckoned with.

The direction that this flick inevitably took, cinematography wise, became the final nail in this trash bin edition of the first superhero family, as unbelievably obvious re-shoots, a rushed falling action, a bizarre shift in terms of tone, a terrible case of poor lighting, and of course, a set of examples of what not to do when rendering CGI, dug open a wide grave for the movie itself.

The part with regards to the re-shoots can again be easily seen in the flick's closing act. All you have to do is take a look at Kate Mara's hair color. Through scene comparison, you can notice that Mara's hair is originally blonde with a few streaks of darkness, and a few scenes later, you can easily see that her hair just became pure white, and is also clearly a wig. I told Dad that it was a wig, but he did not believe. I hope he believes me now. (Laughter)

Oh man, do not even get me started with the film's final, and so far, only actual battle, which we will be discussing by the concluding chapter of our review. All you need to know, is that the lighting is bad, you really cannot see what the heck is actually happening, unless you squint your eyes, hoping for the best resolution of the scene.

However, during the first part of the flick, there are some good signs of an initially calm film direction, and some hints that Josh Trank more or less knew what he was doing before Twentieth Century Fox drove the movie straight to the ground. For instance, the science-fiction dramatic tone of the preceding film chapter kept things moving, despite the admittedly dragging origin story. There are some moments of evidently excellent dialogue, which breathed life into the characters only for a short while, and these moments are already mentioned in our "Acting" segment, even only for a short while. The musical score, done by Philip Glass and Marco Beltrami perfectly amplified the scientific atmosphere of the movie, and personally, I felt that this was the best part of the movie.

Doctor Doom's escape during his capture was a pretty interesting feat, as we get to see a glimpse of his skill set. Not only did we see just how powerful, we also saw just how powerless the Fantastic Four are against this madman, and we all know that his powers are inevitably tamed for the sake of the good guys winning.

Also, this movie really likes the fade-to-black effect, because by the falling action, we get to see not one, but two consecutive fade-outs. That is further proof that the end product was rushed.

Story, Dialogue and Flow = (1/5)

How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways. While there have been some interesting moments in the script, as mentioned earlier, there is no doubt that the overall story is already "Doomed" (Do you see what we did there?) from the start.

Let us begin with the basic, questionable decision to make Reed Richards the sole focus of the entirety of the flick. While this does make for a unique story, the idea to make the story revolve exclusively around Mister Fantastic destroys the core idea of the Fantastic Four being a superhero team. The Fantastic Four has a family dynamic, which is a central aspect of their portrayals in all of their comics. The thought of a superhero family is what made them famous in the first place. By removing that integral part, you are immediately ruining the characters.

The most obvious evidence of this claim, which is also the cause of the film's evident chemistry deficiency between the characters, is the unnecessary addition of a seven-minute long flashback that tells Reed and Ben's days in high school. Aside from a pretty cool appearance from Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons Movie), the voice of Homer Simpson, as Reed's high school science teacher, not only did it add much more length to an already dragging run time and story, it contributed absolutely nothing to the plot. You know, if you are to edit that particular scene, it would not make any difference at all.

In addition to the lack of chemistry, the screenplay, which is the main culprit behind the film's downfall, every other character is dwindled down to stereotype status. These characters include Sue Storm, who is reduced from a strong female lead, to an emotionless know-it-all, Franklin Storm and Harvey Allen.

We have already discussed how Reed, Johnny and Ben have been some of the somewhat standouts in the movie, and we have already mentioned how Franklin Storm and Harvey Allen are just plain as white bond paper. Now, let us tackle how Sue Storm ended up being a weak character. While there is some dialogue evident of her character development, notably in the third act when she mentioned her dislike for her newfound powers, for about more than half of the flick, she is just there being the apple of both Doom and Reed's eyes. She is more or less just a filler for the movie, that adds nothing to the plot.

And the biggest casualty of this shortcoming? It is none other than Doctor Doom himself. Apart from the very terrible costume design, Doom's portrayal here is absurdly cliched, underdeveloped, and the worst version to date, all rolled-up in just one movie. Cliched, because of mean 'ol Doom-y's motivations, which is that he hates the world for obvious and typical villainous reasons. Underdeveloped, because we barely got to know what made Doom tick, no thanks to his minuscule screen time, and it is also not made clear what he really wants to do with yet another swirling vortex of doom in the sky. (Only this time, it converts matter to energy. Yep, that still did not make any sense) The worst version to date, because of these two main reasons, and the facts that his look is the worst possible appearance for a villain with a metal-fused flesh, and his plan simply does not make any sense.

Also, is it me, or does it not feel like Doctor Doom's involvement in the final battle seems out of place? I know we needed a villain versus hero face-off, but this one felt rushed and forced. I guess we would just have to find-out in the last section of this review.

Also, this feels more or less like two hour origin story, that is just as bloated as The Hobbit Trilogy. I just wanted to point-out that for a superhero movie to be successful, it must not be all about talk, but character development.

Let us be clear though, that this film had some very interesting concepts to use, mainly the darker tone compared to other superhero movies out now. A dark story that emphasizes on the humanity and the relatability of the the main characters, specifically their struggles as superhumans living in modern society, makes the movie not only entertaining, but also thought-provoking and emotionally resonant. The film is no doubt dark, and is done with good intentions, but it is indeed severed by the movie's overall quality.

The film's decision to utilize an array of plot points from the Ultimate Fantastic Four comicbook series is very intriguing, as it would really have made this iteration of the team much more contemporary and would have made for an abundance of new story materials to work on. Some of these elements include the Planet Zero subplot, the updated origin story, and the intended portrayal of its characters, mostly Reed Richards, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm, as previously mentioned before.

Ending, Originality and Story Fulfillment = (0/5)

Now this is where the movie inevitably crashed and burned. I already mentioned a lot about how terrible the last part was, and now let us discuss all of the many faults done by the studio executives who clearly have no idea how to make a great superhero movie, atom by atom.

To be frank, it is clearly not Josh Trank's fault that everything fell apart by the ending, as previous coverage of the movie's infamy, as we all know who is to blame here, Twentieth Century Fox, and their sinister corporate meddling antiques. 

After the Fantastic Four are exposed to the harmful substance that, for some reason, was touched by Doom, which then caused their problems in the first place, gave them their powers, Harvey Allen and his equally shady board of directors bring the team to a top-secret facility for testing. Feeling guilty for their pain, Reed abandons his friends, with the promise that he will find an antidote for their conditions.

Afterwards, we get the atmosphere of a rushed movie after two fade-to-black effects, Allen recreates the gateway to Planet Zero, and for reasons unknown, Doom decides to tag along even with his vaguely explained motivations for disliking them, aside from the fact hat he was abandoned by accident. We also learn that Ben, Sue and Johnny are now military personnel, and for run time reasons, are not explored fully, aside from a video clip within the movie briefly defining the Four's current states of mind.

Meanwhile, Reed is in South America, trying to find a cure for their powers, but is then intercepted by his former colleagues, under the orders of their superiors. After a brief battle, and a few non-dramatic, dramatic moments between the teammates, one of them involving the totally meaningless death of Franklin Storm, the Four pursue Doom to Planet Zero, who has then decided to lay waste to the rest of the world with a cliched and unclear plan. (How ironic, right?)

And now, the pinnacle of all bad climactic, poorly lit and choreographed fight sequences. As Doom makes use of other impractical attacks such as gravity manipulation against the Four, and as the Four punch their way to victory, Doom is then defeated after being pushed to and disintegrated by the very portal that the Four used to enter, which was also the vortex that is used to convert matter to energy, which is then used by the Four to return home. Okay, I am pretty sure they gave-up here. Why Fox, why?

Finally, we get to the most cringe-worthy ending imaginable, which I decided to agree with all of the other people who hated this movie as much as we do. The Fantastic Four get a new headquarters, named Central City, which is also the name of DC Comics' Barry Allen / The Flash's home city (Sigh), instead of just using the Baxter Building as their hub (Come on, that place has much more space), which was given to them by the government for stopping Doom's plans, which has mysteriously ceased with no further explanation. And the film actually ends with the team trying to make names in a poorly written script that was clearly done by a seven year old, and a seven year old can do better than that. You can just watch the ending below, and try to "un-hear" what has been heard.

Overall, the ending did not answer a lot of lingering questions, and instead left a lot of plot holes. The change of pace and tone did not help matters either, as the latter part of the movie as a whole felt generally disjointed and rushed, in hopes of making it feel like a good superhero movie. This is, by far, the worst ending for a superhero flick, that is not only rushed for release, but also lazily made. Can we just give the rights back to Marvel Studios already?

Overall Evaluation = (1/5)

What is forced will always come out as bad, and this fantastic flop of a reboot is just that, and is now, what I consider, the worst superhero movie of all time since DC's past shortcomings, and those are somehow much better than this.


What could have been a chance to reinvigorate enthusiasm for the first superhero family instead becomes the definitive example of corporate meddling, as FANT4STIC is plagued by terrible effects, dull acting and messy writing.

Uh, this movie was really, really, really bad. I thought that reviewing this movie would be fun and hilarious, because I thought it would be entertaining to mock their mistakes here, but by going deeper into the flaws of this movie, I just realized how much of an atrocity this movie turned-out to be. Josh Trank was right to disown this movie, because if my name was anywhere near this garbage, my life would be over. Back then, I thought it was wrong for Trank to remove his name from the movie, but now, I think he did what anyone of us would do. Anyway, I hope we could get a movie out of this disaster's backstage drama, which I agree with Screen Junkies of what would make an even better outcome than this, and maybe, we could even find the original script for the movie, and see it for ourselves if the "Director's Cut" is better. In the meantime, while we pray that Marvel Studios redeem the Fantastic Four sooner or later, take a look at Dorkly's hilarious short video of the Four encounter their greatest villain yet! Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!


Post a Comment