I’ve decided to go back and watch a bunch of movies based on comic books. No real reason, just something I thought would be fun. This time it was the 2015 movie Fantastic Four.
IMDb Rating: 4.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes critics: 9%
Rotten Tomatoes audience: 19%
My Rating: 3/10
I went into this movie expecting it to be bad. I had heard a lot about it and my expectations were really low. Somehow, this movie failed to meet even those low expectations. Somehow, I thought that Fantastic Four would fall into the ‘so bad it’s good’ category, but I was sadly mistaken.
I think there were a couple of major flaws, then a lot of minor ones. The first major flaw of the movie was that it was written as though a sequel was inevitable. This movie had a lot of setup and exposition. Sometimes, that can work (the first X-Men movie was the same way), but there has to be a decent payoff at the end. This didn’t have that payoff. The climactic battle that should have shown off all the powers and how the team combines them to defeat Dr. Doom, was too short and lacked the imagination it needed to be satisfying. I’ve heard that there were a number of action scenes removed by the studio (against the director’s wishes), but that still wouldn’t explain the completely lackluster conclusion. I really think that the studio or the writers were looking ahead to a sequel and didn’t want to go too big in this one so they had more room to grow for movie number two.
The second major flaw was that they tried to replicate the team dynamic of the Avengers, but failed miserably. The Avengers work so well, both in the movies and in the comics, because the group has a lot of personality conflicts and roster changes. Some people compare the Avengers to a family, but they’re really more like roommates. They get along when they have too, but everyone always has some gripe about someone else. The Fantastic Four are literally a family, so trying to create that tension and discord doesn’t work. Even though this reboot changed things up a bit by making them younger and have Sue and Johnny be adopted siblings, that doesn’t do enough to distance the group from each other. By the end of the movie, I wasn’t convinced, even for a moment, that any of these characters actually cared about each other. That’s a big problem in a group oriented movie.
The rest of the problems in the movie are smaller, more technical things. I didn’t think the casting was great, but it wasn’t bad. The bigger problem was with the boring, forced dialogue between the characters, and the lazy writing. Doctor Doom was probably the worst character. He came across as a sniveling weasel more than a powerful dictator. Even when fully demonstrating his powers he wasn’t very intimidating as a villain.
The visual effects were mediocre and inconsistent. Sometimes they looked great, sometimes the CGI was blatantly obvious. On the whole, the movie relied on the effects far too much.
I’m trying to think of good things in the movie, and it’s really hard to come up with any. I do think that moving away from the comic book origin of cosmic radiation was probably a smart move, but the replacement origin wasn’t much better. Doctor Storm (Johnny and Sue’s father) was an excellent side character, and he would have been great to use as a way to better integrate the family dynamic the team should have had.
I think one of the reasons why the movie did so poorly is because it wasn’t bad in and of itself, it was disappointing. There were a lot of opportunities for the movie to be better and none of them were taken. That’s why it wasn’t entertaining, and why I really hope that the rights to the characters revert back to Marvel.