Fantastic Four (2015)
(0.5 / 4)
Updated with score in 2022
Imagine if a worse David Cronenburg and 20th Century Fox conceived a child, and Cronenburg got left alone with the baby, but while he was supposed to be watching the baby he “accidentally” snorted ten lines of coke, and while coked out Cronenburg burnt down the nursery with the baby still inside, so Fox had to rush the baby to the ER, and it was saved at the cost of all its limbs, one eyeball, and immense suffering.
That baby is Fantastic Four.
Enter Reed Richards (Miles Teller), a high school prodigy whose teacher is unable to appreciate his teleportation device because the hero must have no friends, excluding Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), who has no friends. Discovered by Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) and his daughter Sue (Kate Mara), who has no friends, he’s given a full ride scholarship to the Baxter Building, where he will never take classes and work on a better teleportation device with Super-Slav Victor Von Doom. Who has no friends.
Bringing in Sue’s brother Johnny (Michael B. Jordan), because nobody else at the Baxter Building knows how to weld and a government project is a perfect opportunity for some father-son discipline, the teleportation device is soon completed, and then hijacked while drunk, adding fuel to the fire. Random accidents happen and our heroes are born in a vomit-inducing sequence reminiscent of The Fly.
That body horror sequence is possibly the only good part of the film, and it would have lasted longer if Josh Trank hadn’t gotten fired for coming to work high and burning down his house. 20th Century Fox, realizing that they actually need to release a film in order to keep the movie rights, quickly cobbled together re-shoots with an unnamed director, that cut out an hour of run-time, scrapped the 3D conversion which had already been advertised, and made me wonder why I spent money on this film.
Kate Mara was already giving a pretty bland portrayal of Susan Storm before the scenes that were shot without Trank, but the re-shoots glaze over everyone’s performances with a dash of “I’ll finish my contract, please don’t let this movie destroy my career.” Seeing both this film and Netflix’s House of Cards show that this is simply her style, but that doesn’t excuse it from being a terrible one. On the topic of the re-shoots, they itself present a significant problem for the movie, and it is that they don’t provide a second half to Fantastic Four. Rather, they come across tonally as a different film altogether.
Attempting to hastily glue together both halves results in an absolute travesty. In universe, they are joined by a one-year time skip in order to mask the fact that they had to film a new third act and severely truncate the second. From the viewers standpoint, the continuity editor did more cocaine than Josh Trank. Ben Grimm will shift from hating Reed for turning him into a giant rock to liking Reed for no discernible reason. Reed will have a full stubble while walking in one room, and after going through a door will be clean-shaven. Kate Mara’s hair dye had washed out by the re-shoots, so in those scenes Susan Storm is wearing a blonde wig of strikingly different colour to her other scenes. Lastly, it’s weird that the studio put the effort into making Sue Storm blonde when their casting of Johnny Storm was already for ability over appearance.
On that note, Michael B. Jordan is the best actor in Fantastic Four with a solid grasp on his character. Johnny Storm being black in this film is a non-factor and I’m highly suspicious of criticism targeting that casting. Tony Kebbell is barely tolerable as Victor Von Doom, solely because he’s the one who satisfyingly kills all of the stupid people we’ve been forced to watch for the last hour. Miles Teller feels like he only did the movie for the paycheck, yet unlike Whiplash co-star J.K. Simmons who still puts in valiant effort on paycheck roles, Teller just didn’t even care.
I can’t accept that from the guy who starred in The Spectacular Now and Whiplash. Miles Teller can do better than this and it’s an insult to both his ability and his reputation to lower himself to this. He can do better. Reg E. Cathey as Dr. Franklin Storm actually took the movie seriously, and as a result he’s the only one in Fantastic Four that the audience will even like. There are no comments on Jamie Bell’s performance because this movie wasn’t long enough for the studio to give the Thing any character traits aside from grumbling.
Fantastic Four isn’t entertainingly bad, it’s just bad. In 2015, where good superhero movies have reached a cultural zeitgeist and are now a dime a dozen, there is no reason to watch this movie. There is literally a better superhero movie than Fantastic Four on the poster of Fantastic Four.
Don’t see this movie. Why in God’s name would you ever see this movie?