BlokeBusting The Essentials #89: Fant4stic

Did NOBODY say anything about just how bad that title looks?

#49: Fant4stic

Or

Something tells me you might know how I feel about this film already. Let’s see…

First Impressions

Ok. I’m going to admit something here that I think you might be a little surprised by. I didn’t hate the 2005 Fantastic Four film. I know it’s not good, but I was alright with it. I went into this film knowing that it had a SOLID cast, a director who had done some good work and a studio with money behind it. So, all things considered, sounds like a great recipe! Then I saw the film in the cinema. And now you get to hear about it.

The Characters

  • Miles Teller: Reed Richards/Mr Fantastic

    So, not a terrible start. The character is actually fairly consistent with my knowledge of Reed. He’s very smart but not a people person, he’s focused on the science and he’s loyal to the gang. Mostly. But the main issue I have with this portrayal is that it just falls flat. There is very little chance for Reed to go “all-out” other than in a total CG way (yes, I know that’s weird to say given his abilities, but he doesn’t have any real character moments or good story development) and it felt like MT was given waaaay too many directions rather than letting the character shine through. But, like I said, not bad.

  • Michael B Jordan: Johnny Storm/The Human Torch

    What happened? Seriously, what the hell happened here? You got Michael B Jordan, THE M.B.J. And THIS is what you got on screen? I mean, yeah he had some good moments but he’s just so one-note for most of the film that it’s not really worth it. *sighs* Right, moving on…

  • Kate Mara: Susan Storm/The Invisible Woman

    Boring. Why, in the name of everything sacred to comic books, were studios of the pre-MCU times so ASTONISHINGLY bad at writing female superhero characters? It’s not even funny. And then this film came around and made you realise that some people just don’t write them well period. They must have somehow time-travelled a writer from the 90’s to do her character. And again, this is NOT a critique of the actor. She’s really good. It’s a critique of this film’s portrayal of Susan. There’s SO MUCH you can do with Susan Storm, so many layers you can put in. Screw it, let’s just go to Ben.

  • Jamie Bell: Ben Grimm/The Thing

    You know what? This guy was the best thing in the film. He’s fun, he’s actually a good foil to Reed and he’s able to bring some much needed comic relief. Sadly it’s few and far-between once the film gets going. And fair play, the actor did get tips from Andy Serkis when it came to the performance-capture as well. So yeah, well done Jamie Bell!

  • Toby Kebbell: Victor Von Doom/Dr Doom

    Right. I usually avoid the following language in these reviews, but I’m making an exception in this case. So, here goes….

    WHAT THE FUCK DID THEY DO TO VON DOOM?

    I mean….. bloody hell! He’s an angsty teenager (yes, I know he’s stated as older but come on!) who gets stuck on a random planet in space/another dimension/bleh and gains Elfen Lied powers. And I’m not just making a power comparison here. Watch the scene where he goes nuts in the facility and then watch Elfen Lied’s opening (Lucy’s escape). There’s almost a solid copyright infringement case there. I’ll say it loud and proud here: Julian McMahon was a MUCH better Von Doom, and he wasn’t even doing a subtle performance. It’s honestly astounding to me that they screwed up THIS badly. And in case you need anything else here, please scroll back up to the Gif. *exhales*

  • Everyone Else: Everyone Else

    Meh.

The Setting

Again, the film starts off well with a good introduction to Reed and Ben. It then really starts to fall apart when you realise just how young they’re keeping the characters, the fact that everything’s being done in (effectively) an underground government facility and the fact that a major reason for the villain’s anger towards the group is that he fancies Susan and she doesn’t reciprocate. That is not a joke. I wish it was, but it isn’t. I don’t have enough time to go into all the major issues here (the differences from the comics alone would take a LONG time), but I’ll try to narrow down the huge ones:

  • As I said, the film strays so far from the source material that I honestly don’t feel right calling it a Fantastic Four film. The Incredibles is much closer to F4 than this was.
  • Von Doom is basically turned evil by an inter-dimensional green slime that gave everyone powers. Uuuuuuuhhhhhhh……
  • The actual relationships between the characters are paper-thin at best. There’s little chemistry on screen, with the only real relationship visible is between Reed and Ben. Everyone else effectively has 3 lines of dialogue for exposition and then we just have to move on. Again, this is not a critique of the actors, rather annoyance at how little screen time they gave these characters’ backstory.
  • The studio. I think. To the best of my knowledge, most of the issues surrounding the film stemmed from the director and Fox having issues seeing eye to eye. Given his previous work and the caliber of actors, I’m more inclined to think that Fox wanted a version of the film that didn’t mesh with the director’s or, to be frank, the fans. Yeah, not the first time its happened but definitely a really bad case.

Ok, I’ve had enough ranting for one day! Let’s see what Bubba has to say about this……. thing.

I hadn’t seen this film since it came out and I remember being a little bit more forgiving towards it than most. It clearly had some issues, and most of that really felt like studio meddling but it also took the concept into some interesting directions. When you do think about the powers of the Fantastic Four in a more realistic setting, it actually makes a lot of sense to take it into body horror territory. Unfortunately, it didn’t take that concept far enough. And much of the rest of the concepts were weak or really weird, especially everything to do with Dr. Doom being some pseudo hipster recluse who turns into a weird tech mummy. And everything wraps up with the team fighting a giant blue space beam that seems ever present in most of the worst superhero movies of this era.

The casting of this film was decent, especially Michael B Jordan who was on the rise and Miles Teller right after Whiplash. Josh Trank was picked for the project after his success with Chronicle, but this still felt a bit like the excuse for the original unreleased Fantastic Four movie so this was made just to keep the rights to the team for another ten years. While in the box office, this was a modest success in theory with $167 million, it grossed less than half of what the first actually released Fantastic Four movie made and it had a massive budget with director-less reshoots. The film was troubled with plenty of rumors and gossip. The director was rumored to hole himself up with a screening monitor and avoid direct contact with the actors and the reshoots happened without his involvement at all. He did actually revisit his own film and wrote a review on Letterboxd where he called it merely “ALRIGHT”. As with most of the Fantastic Four movies, it’s fascinating to see how this story progressed from the first unreleased movie to this latest incarnation.

Thank you Mr Wheat! Ok, now the main questions. You’re probably going to have a vague idea of my thoughts, but let’s go anyway!

As a reminder, the 3 questions are:

  1. Would I recommend this film to others?
  2. Does this film deserve to be on the list?
  3. If so, where does it appear on the list?

And, in quick succession:

1) No.

2) No.

3) It’s replacement time! Given the fact that I do consider The Incredibles to be a F4 film & that it’s already on the list, I feel it’s only fair to add the sequel too. So now the list is as follows:

  1. Hellboy
  2. Captain America: The First Avenger
  3. The Crow
  4. Men In Black
  5. Dr Strange
  6. Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  7. Megamind
  8. Batman: The Killing Joke
  9. Superman 3
  10. The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman
  11. The Meteor Man
  12. Supergirl
  13. Howard The Duck
  14. The Fantastic Four (1994)
  15. The Punisher
  16. Batman & Robin
  17. The Amazing Spider-Man
  18. Batman Forever
  19. BvS: Dawn Of Justice

    Potential Substitutions:

    Wonder Woman (replacing The Death Of The Hulk)
    X-Men: The Last Stand (replacing Catwoman)
    Turbo Kid (replacing The Incredible Hulk)
    The Incredibles 2 (replacing Fant4stic)

Ok, we’re done. Right now I’m just hoping that since the rights belong to Marvel now, we should get an accurate and just better theatrical version of F4 than we’ve seen to date. But for now, just stay away from glowing green goop. It’s just not worth it…

About Hurricane Hawk

I'm a Brit in the US. Yes, my accent is real. No, I'm not from Australia. Oh yeah, I have 2 film podcasts!

Posted on December 21, 2019, in 10's movies, Blokebusting the Essentials, Marvel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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