In this golden age of superhero cinema, it was only a matter of time before business and art could no longer blossom side by side. It’s hard to imagine, considering how nearly every movie the studios churn out these days is either exceptional, really good, or at least serviceably entertaining. Marvel and Fox seem invincible at the moment, but we all knew it couldn’t last forever. Along comes “Fantastic 4”, a production where money eats the art. Where greed suppresses passion, leaving the body of work cold and empty like a drained soul. A reboot so haphazardly put together, and with so little respect for the audience and its characters, it sends the entire genre back to the stone age, buries it in corporate soil, and fertilises the ground with tasteless tragedy.
In the film we meet a young Reed Richards, who aspires to one day change the world for the better with teleportation; a passion that for some strange reason is never explained or justified in any way. He also befriends Ben Grimm, who comes from a dysfunctional, broken and abusive family; something which is likewise very lightly touched upon. Fast forward 8 years, and the two companions present their now fully functional teleportation device, which gets them an internship at a science-corporation known as Baxter. They build a life-size version of the machine, travel to another dimension, come back deformed in various ways, and have to fight evil and save our world. You know how it goes. The same old formula, mixed with a little bit of sci-fi and horror.
I’m not gonna lie. I was really excited to see this film. The cast is chock-full of young talent, the trailers are oddly intriguing, and despite a lot of negative buzz surrounding the production itself, things seemed to be going in the right direction. And for the first half of this movies, I was actually enjoying myself. I wasn’t blown away or anything, but what surprised me was how character-driven the story was. It did a quite commendable job setting up all the personalities and getting us hooked on the idea that these people will eventually become a team of extraordinary human beings. But just as we really start to feel the flow, the accident occurs and derails the train. The structure collapses faster than an overcooked cake, rapidly deflating until all the air is gone.
We first become aware of the impending doom (no pun intended) when the movie suddenly jumps 1 year forward in time, just after our heroes have awakened to the realisation of their horrifically altered appearances. The fundamental mistake here is expecting the audience to stay emotionally attached to these four individuals. Because while we clearly know that things have changed, we don’t get to relate to it or experience any of the impact. It’s almost like spending a day in the company of interesting people, and then being denied any contact with them for an extended period of time. And when you finally meet again, you naturally want to pick up where you left off.
But in this case, our relationship with the fantastic four never picks up. They won’t even talk to us. They’ve all become accustomed to their powers, and everyone has learned how to harness them. In fact, the entire second act is completely cut out of the equation. No one is mentally affected by seeing one of their own falling to his death. For god’s sake, they’re not even slightly troubled by the deformities that’s been inflicted upon them! Act one’s promise of a strong character-piece is dropped in favour of what I can only describe as one of the most detouring, lifeless and dull third acts in the history of third acts. I felt so emotionally betrayed, I seriously considered leaving the theatre, because nothing happens during the last 30 minutes. I’m serious. Absolutely nothing…
All we get is a series of incoherent and loosely strung together scenes, in which these “brilliant” young minds WILLINGLY comply to the military’s request of carrying out despicable actions. The Thing does nothing but whine and mope, not to mention kill countless people without feeling any remorse of doubt about the blatantly obvious fact that he’s being weaponised. What’s even worse is that we only see him do it on a tiny television screen! For all the money they pumped into this thing, you would think they would at least give us some visual eye candy to look at. But in the end, you only get one pathetic 3-minute fight scene with the main villain, who not only emerges way too late in the game, but also inexplicably decides that earth must be sucked into a vortex so that he can create a new world from this so-called negative zone. It’s so dumb and forced and idiotic, I began to miss Tim Story’s 2005 film. That’s not a good sign! Then everything wraps up so quickly, people at my screening literally stood up and proclaimed “that sucked!”. I couldn’t help but agree.
“Fantastic 4” is in every sense of the word a dreadful cinematic experience. The script is lazy, the structure is a mess, and the story is a paceless train wreck. It’s utterly forgettable trash, containing none of the fun and colourful excitement of a Marvel film, while also failing miserably to pull off the grimy look and dark feel of the pictures that inspired it. This is a perfect example of what happens when the studio is desperate to keep the rights to a property. Everything becomes a business. Art becomes reduced to sour, money-driven decision-making so fatal that even the low-minded fan of “Transformers: Age of Extinction” will leave in anger. I can’t possibly imagine anyone liking this film. When the second half is so bad, it completely ruins the otherwise interesting first half, you should seriously reconsider your priorities. This is just sloppy craftsmanship with no heart or soul. One of the worst superhero movies ever made, and a top-contender for the worst flick of 2015.