What The Film!? – Fantastic Four (1994)


What The Film?! is a weekly column exclusive to Under The Gun Review that brings to light the plot holes Hollywood hoped you’d never notice. Written by comedy writer Dane Sager, this column shows no mercy to films that try and pull the proverbial wool over our eyes.

If you know a film with major plot holes that you feel needs to be exposed, tell us! Email utgjames@gmail.com with the subject “What The Film” and we’ll try to get your suggestion featured on the site.

This Week’s Movie: 1994’s Fantastic Four

How many people out there know what an ‘ashcan copy’ is? An ‘ashcan copy’ came from the 1930’s where it was used to describe something created to be thrown away (an ashcan being an archaic synonym for a trash can), being created for legal reasons. Several comic books have had their first issues as ashcan copies, filled with scribbles and incomplete artwork, just so they could copyright the character before anyone else could possibly use them. This happens very rarely in the film industry, but it still happens. When you purchase the film rights of an existing property, you’re given a time limit to go with it. If you don’t make the movie by X, the rights revert back to the original owner (this is why the Terminator franchise rights have been bounced around like a Mexican jumping bean). Sometimes these movies get quiet releases, studios hoping no one takes notice while they work on their real vision for the material, but sometimes they don’t release the movie at all. Fantastic Four is the later type of ashcan movie.

Wait, is that Chris Kattan and a Muppet?

Constantin Film AG (the studio behind all of the “excellent” live action Resident Evil movies) purchased the film rights to Stan Lee & Jack Kirby’s superhero group The Fantastic Four. Later they made the realization that the rights would lapse back to Marvel if they didn’t start production on a movie by the end of 1992. Constantin decided to fast track a movie just so they could keep the rights. They had a $1,500,000 budget and only a few months to make a full fledged movie, so they enlisted Roger Corman (of countless no-budget direct to video SyFy Pictures “Fame”) to help out on a movie that would never get distributed anywhere. With the exception of a select few, everyone who worked on this movie assumed they were working on a large budget comic book action movie that would get a huge theatrical release. The actual production of this movie would make a better movie than the movie itself.

Steve Martin would make a great Roger Corman. Don't act like you wouldn't see that movie.

I managed to get an .mp4 copy online and transferred it to my Playstation to watch on the TV (technlogy! Woo!). The whole movie plays like an extended Tim & Eric Awesome Show sketch, with its awful production values, constant tracking and audio issues, middle school musical level acting, and even worse the resolution of the file was 352×240, which is less than a normal VHS. While the movie contains a lot of no name actors, tricked into thinking that they’re about to become huge, the actor who plays Reed Richards (Alex Hyde-White) went on to do several movies with Steven Spielberg. Good job, Mr. Fantastic!

The movie begins with a poorly done experiment where college friends Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom yell lots of incoherent science terminology at each other such as “magnet interferior”. This experiment unsurprisingly goes wrong causing Victor Von Doom to be electrocuted, showing him screaming standing still while cartoon lightning bolts hit his body. Consantin didn’t have the budget to have a cartoon skeleton flash over his body. Despite this horrible horrible setback, Reed still decides to go to space on another experiment he has set up. “Don’t let anything happen to my babies!” the mother of fellow astronauts Johnny and Susan storm says to Richards. “I’ll see to it personally” he replies back, almost threateningly.

It's as if Dr. Manhattan's origin story was done on an episode of Bill Nye

The next few minutes don’t make any sense, not that the rest of movie is any more coherent. There’s a diamond bank heist with a Leprechaun, Ben Grimm (who becomes the creatively titled The Thing) sexually assaults a blind woman (which she finds charming), and I could be wrong, but I’m sure I saw Tim Curry in black face as well.

The not explained Leprechaun steals a large crystal from a vault and replaces it with a forgery, causing the space ship’s gamma shields to be not functional, because that’s totally what makes sense. Reed and his friends launch their shuttle in a montage of at least six different stock footage launches of several clearly different spacecrafts. The lowered gamma shield causes their ship to crash back to Earth, giving everyone superpowers, because that’s totally what makes sense.

Pictured: A Leprechaun

I can’t explain the plot line to this movie without sounding as if I’m on drugs, I’ve written and rewritten a synopsis of this movie so many times, but it never makes any sense no matter how many times I write it. The comic relief of them discovering their superpowers is so unfunny and poorly done that it manages to become funny again. The Human Torch sneezes and ignites a bush on fire with it, which causes him to immediately be aware that he can control fire. This was the first thought he came to after seeing the bush go up in flames. While he was correct, this isn’t the sort of thing you’d expect an astronaut to think.

He also believes that contrails control the weather and that Loose Change is totally legit, guys

This movie is if Andy Warhol made a Fantastic Four movie, filled with camp and shtick that makes you question if it was intentional or not. Everyone’s costumes are so plastic and unmoving that it comes off as a Robot Chicken sketch. There’s a scene where Dr. Doom fires a laser to destroy New York City, he fires it in the air, where it curves downward to be aiming at New York. It also moves at a pace that the Fantastic Four can try to stop it. Dr. Doom is so bad at science that he has created a laser that is affected by gravity and also is significantly slower than the speed of light. While the idea that a lot of hard workers were tricked into thinking they were making on a real movie is legitimately sad and disheartening, it doesn’t change the fact that this very well could be the most unintentionally funny superhero movie ever made.

Batman & Robin, you can step down now. Your term is complete and there's a new Mayor of Awfulville

Dane is currently growing out his Red Wings Playoff Beard. You can help him by following him on Tumblr and Twitter!

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