MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Fantastic Four’ Is A Moviegoer’s Nightmare

Fantastic-Four-Review-2015

Film: Fantastic Four
Starring: Miles Teller, Kate Mara
Directed by: Josh Trank

Despite a strong cast and iconic source material, Josh Trank’s take on Fantastic Four is one of the worst superhero films ever made.

The story is simple enough. After being discovered at his high school science fair, Reed Richards is enrolled in a scientific program that allows him to continue his lifelong work on inter-dimensional travel. Along with the help of two equally brilliant young minds–as well as a good guy trouble maker whose on site against his will–Richards cracks the mystery that has been plaguing him for years and develops a way to send organic matter from our planet to a planet in another dimension and back again. This leads Richards and his friends to try space travel for themselves, but a freak accident involving the energy contained within the strange new planet leaves each team member with unique abilities that alter their reality forever.

There is a part of me that believes if everything described above were a setup to the main plot of Fantastic Four that I would probably be writing about how I thoroughly enjoyed Trank’s new vision for the team, but that is not how the film unfolds. The origin of the new Fantastic Four takes up more than 80 minutes of the film’s 106-minute runtime, which leaves very little room for the film’s finale. In fact, almost an hour-and-a-half transpires before the first battle or death occurs. This is not a film about heroes who work together to save the world as much as it is a tale of smart kids who undergo abnormal changes as the result of a few poor decisions made while traveling between dimensions. That’s not necessarily a bad story to tell, but it is not the story moviegoers want to see.

I’m going to go a step further and say not only is the story told in Fantastic Four not what audiences want, but given the lackluster performances of seemingly everyone involved in this project…I don’t believe a single cast member thought this film would be a hit. Star power like Miles Teller, Michael B Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell should be able to sell even the weakest of scripts, but not one of them can convince the audience they want to be in this film. Each member passes through sequences with limp-wristed delivery and seemingly no interest in trying any harder than whatever they believe to be the bare minimum. It’s as if they knew it was a bomb before they stepped foot on set, but for whatever reason were unable to get out of their contracts.

If I had to guess what Josh Trank had in mind when pitching his version of Fantastic Four, I would describe his vision as a mix of the self-referential humor found in pre-millennium movie adaptations with a gloomy, Christopher Nolan-like narrative. Batman Forever meets The Dark Knight, if you will. He might not have known at the time that those two elements don’t necessarily blend well, but I have to imagine at some point during the production or post-production process he had to sense that something was amiss. It seems impossible to me that anyone could sit through the cut of Fantastic Four now in theaters and not realize just how awry things went. From the inexplicably horrid CGI that reportedly cost $120 million to create, to the insanely short finale that was almost entirely spoiled in the film’s trailers, Fantastic Four is simply not good.

This may all read in a very negative way, but I really wanted Fantastic Four to be great. The last attempt at bringing the longtime comic franchise to life was not the greatest turn in superhero adaptations, but even with its plethora of cheesy moments the final product was still far better than what Josh Trank has delivered this time around. The latest Fantastic Four is a hollow, messy and almost entirely pointless affair that seems to exist for no other reason that setting up a sequel that I’m not sure anyone will want after seeing this film. Unfortunately, that sequel has already been given the green light and has a 2017 release date. May Victor Von Doom have mercy on us all.

GRADE: D-

Review written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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