Movie Review: Fantastic 4

First of all, there is nothing wrong with casting a black actor in the role of a white character. Being an adaptation, it is perfectly reasonable for artists to take liberties in whatever way they see fit. And second, if you are making a big deal about something as petty as the race of a fictional character, in a fictional movie, you are no better than the third wave feminists, social justice warriors, and progressives who demand the forcible inclusion of diversity in entertainment in perpetuity. Just because someone does not add enough black people, Asians, or women in their content does not mean they are racist or sexist. Art is not a Canadian film school. Stop whining and let creators do what they want. There are more pressing matters that need attention like ISIS, Russia invading Ukraine, the government taking away our right to defend ourselves, or climate change. Find some real problems, idiots.

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It is an accepted fact the Fantastic Four (FF) movies by director Tim Story are awful. They come from a time when super hero films were afraid of their roots and modernized to the point they had none of the color or excitement that made the source material memorable. While the FF movies were pulpy like the comics, they were still modernized and rendered dull, no thanks to the horrible special effects and sitcom antics. Ironically, the Roger Corman version from 1994 is said to be better in comparison and like today’s Fantastic 4 (F4), it was also made so a company could hold onto the rights. Does this new version fail just as hard or has Fox found its footing?

I do not read the Fantastic Four comics. I would like to because my favorite author, Jonathan Hickman, wrote for the series, but my wallet cannot take the gutting. The appeal for me is not the team, but their antagonist Doctor Doom. Of the entire Marvel rogues gallery, Doom is the most interesting. He is a dictator with an inflated ego and speaks in the third person, but he also cares about his subjects. To protect them and his domain of Latveria, Doom dabbles in arcane magic and technology at the cost of becoming a villain. He is an explorer of sorts and a great antagonist that was butchered in last two movies by making him boring and restrained like every other bad-guy before Heath Ledger’s Joker. Toby Kebbell’s Doom is a decisive improvement, but he suffers from a retread into modernization, a problem the movie shares.

After creating the world’s first inter-dimensional teleporter, Reed Richards, played by Miles Teller, is given the opportunity to build on his discovery at the Baxter Foundation, an institution for science prodigies. But when an experiment involving his friends goes haywire, they are gifted with extraordinary powers the government seeks to exploit.

That summary took two sentences and 51 words. In an ordinary plot, that is your first act. The second is longer as the characters are put through a test and the third is a wrap-up the length of the first. That is how stories have been written since the existence of storytelling. F4 is 100 minutes long and the first act is almost half that, while the third act is 10 minutes of a boring fight because the committee who made this movie is about as incompetent as the idiots behind Amazing Spider-Man 2 (ASM2).

However, F4 is really not that bad, all things considered. After seeing the reviews when I returned home, I find the hatred and comparisons to ASM2 rather unfounded. There is no denying the pacing is elementary to the point of retardation, probably a result of studio interference and the mess of its production, but F4 is inoffensive. The plot is coherent and the story clearly defined, whereas ASM2 had no story and no cohesion. That still does not make it good, though.

The main issue is F4’s adherence to the old way of making superhero movies. From the color pallet, to the choice of wardrobe, the tone is dark and clad in leather. The scientific idealism and celebration of imagination from the comics is replaced with government oversight, military application, and narrow-minded businessmen who over-react for no other reason than they are written to. Johnny Storm hates his dad, Sue Storm is an antisocial plank of wood, Ben Grimm has a history of abuse, and Richards feels alone because he is smart. Everything and everyone is damaged and wrought with personal problems in a failed attempt to be edgy. Boredom quickly set in as the 100-minutes felt like two and a half hours.

My personal problem is Doom himself. While he is better than the Julian McMahon atrocity, Kebbell’s is just as boring. He starts off as a scientific anarchist and very anti-establishment. After participating in the teleport experiment, he develops powers and a god complex in the alternate dimension, and returns to Earth because he feels the government is encroaching on his new home. It makes sense, but comics Doom makes more sense with villain logic. There is no mention of movie Doom being Latverian royalty or the country existing apart from on paper and in scenery. Had movie Doom been royalty, it would make sense because he comes from a place where he is superior. Instead of feeling his home is threatened by the government, he would feel obligated to better Latveria and wipe out his enemies. An anti-establishment character would not suddenly want to destroy the world he obviously cares about regardless of how long he was stuck in another dimension.

The acting was… acting. No one was remarkable or memorable, Jamie Bell’s talent under utilized as Grimm.

What could have been an opportunity to make something fun and unique was wasted by a production that was too afraid to try something different. Fantastic 4 is absent ambition and suffers the monotony pre-2008 superhero movies endured. It is not painful to sit through like Amazing Spider-Man 2, but it is not worth a sit either way. Go see Ant-Man instead.

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