Fantastic Four (2015)


Movie a Day Blog sees a lot of movies. Some are good, some are bad. Few are truly bad, and few of the truly bad are as awful as the latest Marvel reboot of FANTASTIC FOUR (2015, Theatrical).

This is all the more disappointing given that the co-writer and director is Josh Trank, who directed the innovative and effective low-budget indie sci-fi film CHRONICLE (2012, Movie a Day 7/4/12).

Much like Colin Trevorrow, who took over the JURASSIC PARK franchise with JURASSIC WORLD (2015) and failed to bring any personal touch to it whatsoever, Trank’s inventiveness is stifled by the weight of pre-set Marvel characters who have no depth or serious development.

These movies are derived from comic books, of course, so it’s foolish to expect existential meaning when one guy turns into a bunch of glued together rocks and is labeled The Thing, and the other employs the old Elastic Man gimmick.

The freshest of young acting talent (Miles Teller, Kate Mara and Michael B. Jordan) are completely wasted in these exceptionally limited roles — oh sure, they can do anything they want physically, but emotionally, they’re a cul de sac.

I groaned when I realized I was in for yet another origin story, each one in the Marvel Universe employing essentially the same instigation: some experiment goes terribly awry, and the poor unfortunates (usually young men) are forever altered by the often-gruesome experience.

Here it’s poor Jamie Bell who is the most afflicted, because he totally disappears into The Thing except for his voice, which is properly resentful and pissed-off, given the script and the direction.

Mara also looks like she’d rather be anywhere else, even getting pushed in front of a subway car in “House of Cards.” Teller, who has given some obnoxious interviews since the success of WHIPLASH (2014, Movie a Day 1/14/15), gets his comeuppance with a strained, unpleasant performance, and Rooney fares little better.

Michael B. Jordan, who is supposed to be angry with most-naive-ever dad Reg E Cathey (another Morgan Freeman substitute), takes it out on the audience. It did not look like a happy set.

It’s not a happy experience watching FANTASTIC FOUR, either. The visual effects are among the cheesiest I’ve seen in recent years — they reminded me of the 1980s sci-fi spoof REAL GENIUS (1985), and that was a different era of special effects. The visual range of this film looked like it came from the bargain bin of movie Goodwill. No wonder Stan Lee doesn’t appear in a cameo role.

For Disney, who now owns Marvel, the company’s former deal with 20th Century Fox is like the stepbrother they have to spend weekends with. They have clearly put films such as FANTASTIC FOUR on a starvation diet, and it showed in this anemic reformulation.

There is absolutely no reason FANTASTIC FOUR to be made, and what makes it worse is that everyone involved in this bomb seemed to know it.