FANTASTIC FOUR Review; "A Mess And A Crushing Disappointment. Skip It."

FANTASTIC FOUR Review; "A Mess And A Crushing Disappointment. Skip It."

Remember back when comic book movies were almost always terrible? You know, the days of Blade: Trinity, Catwoman, and Daredevil? Well, Josh Trank's Fantastic Four reboot can now join them...

Fantastic Four starts off badly. Two awful child actors portray the young Reed Richards and Ben Grimm, but when we finally get past that opening (and largely pointless) first five minutes, the movie gets good. Great, even. While nowhere near enough time is taken to set up the relationships between the lead characters, the performances of Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Toby Kebbell, and to a much lesser extent, Jamie Bell, really anchor this movie. We even get a definite sense of the kind of exploration which makes the Fantastic Four comics great when they head into "Planet Zero" for the first time. Origin stories so often tend to be tedious that it's refreshing to enjoy these early stages of the team's story, and Josh Trank succeeds in the body horror aspects of their transformation which was promised early on. It's just a shame that doesn't last, because seeing each of the four - Sue is hit by radiation when Reed, Ben, and Johnny return - transform is genuinely fascinating to watch. 

After this strong first act, we jump straight into the third. That doesn't make sense, right Fantastic Four has no second act. There's a beginning and an end, but no middle, and it's at this point where the reboot crashes and burns. Rather than exploring the newfound states of the young heroes, we skip forward a year and dive straight into a rushed and garbled ending which helps make this easily one of the most disappointing and awful comic book movies of all-time. Any sign of a story vanishes, and we're left with a movie which would have fitted right in when the likes of Catwoman and Daredevil were released. 

We speed through learning what the foursome have been up to for the past year (not much), and jump straight into the return of Victor, fresh from Planet Zero with a laughably bad new look. Before we can get any sort of explanation about how he survived or what his motivations are, he embarks on a somewhat impressive killing spree and decides that he needs to destroy the Earth. We're likely supposed to assume that he's gone insane, but his plan and interests are so poorly explained and addressed that he ends up serving no real purpose other than to give the team someone to team u against as they spout all manner of poorly written lines. What was shaping up to be a smart and interesting new take on the team devolves into a CGI heavy fight scene which is far too short and generally just unexciting and unimpressive. Say what you will about Marvel's villains, but at least their plans make sense and we spend enough time with them to understand what they want; Doom just wants to destroy the Earth so he can wander around a barren wasteland in another dimension and is a shadow of his comic book counterpart. 

It's clear in the final half of this surprisingly short movie that the cast don't want to be there. The fact that these scenes are almost entirely made up of what was done in reshoots is made apparent by Mara's dodgy wig and they all sound like they're just phoning it in at this point so they can go home and concentrate on making movies which are actually good. In the first half, it's hard to fault their them, but the fact that they lack any real sort of chemistry means you end up watching five very separate performances with nothing which binds them together; The Avengers, they aren't. [SPOILER WARNING] The movie does however steal the ending of Avengers: Age of Ultron in what they must have assumed was a great way of getting fans excited. It's not. It's also baffling that Fantastic Four perfectly sets up the team returning to the Baxter Building at the end, only to have them holed up in  a research facility called "Central City" by the time the credits roll. Attempts at fan service are made - "It's Clobberin' Time" - but they come across as lame and forced. [END SPOILERS]

Fantastic Four doesn't have many redeeming qualities other than the five leads and they're only worth watching for the first half of the movie. The Thing looks great and sounds better than expected, Sue turns invisible a lot (so, er, well done?), The Human Torch looks like a cartoon, and Reed's stretching powers look as crummy as they did in the 2005 and 2007 movies. The CGI in the movie is very hit and miss from start to finish though, and Planet Zero is just one big green screen backdrop with nothing remotely special or memorable about it. Amazingly, Tim Story's take on the franchise got more right than this new one, and if you're looking for a good Fantastic Four movie to watch this weekend...well, you might be better off watching one of those abominations rather than this poorly made and soulless reboot. 

It starts off strong and gets steadily worse. Fantastic Four won't leave you hungry for sequel; it will leave you desperate to forget what you just watched. Signs of greatness are there, but ultimately, this movie is little more than a mess and a crushing disappointment. Skip it. 

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