John Hanlon Rounds Up The Best Bad Reviews of “Fantastic Four”

Posted on August 11, 2015 at 8:29 am

Many thanks to John Hanlon for including me in his new “Must-Read Reviews” feature, rounding up the sharpest, funniest, and angriest critic responses to “Fantastic Four.” Plus one from a guy who liked it! Be sure to check out his redesigned website! He has great reviews, updates, and interviews.

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Fantastic Four

Posted on August 6, 2015 at 4:53 pm

Copyright 20th Century Fox 2015
Copyright 20th Century Fox 2015

Three things a superhero movie should not be: dreary, dull, and tedious. Three things this movie is: see if you can guess. I am a huge fan of the comic book series Fantastic Four, which I first read as a teenager, ready for something with a little more edge and attitude than my beloved Superman. I have suffered through previous efforts to make their stories work on film, and dared to hope that this one would be better. It is awful in every category. The script is terrible, wasting much too much time on a revamped origin story that goes back to 5th grade(!) and the high school science fair(!) and still does not tell us anything interesting about the characters or how they got their powers. The characters are dull and all seem to be acting in separate bell jars, with no indication that there is another human being in the scene. Even when they are supposed to be friends, siblings, parent and child, or possible romantic partners, they act as though the other person was a tennis ball hanging in front of a green screen.

People who are supposed to be super-smart do things that are super-stupid. Like constantly. One thing scientists understand very well is that empirical data matters. So when things go terribly wrong when you try something, what’s the deal with doing the same thing again without taking any new steps to prevent further disasters? And Reed Richards’ only complaint is that the new pod is not as pretty as the old one and needs ten minutes of corrections to the code?

The dialog is filled with appalling clunkers like, “Do you ever think about what would have happened if you never came to the science fair?” “We cannot change the past. But we can change the future.” It even has locker-room style pep talks like, “He’s too much for each of us, but if we all work together we can beat him!” And many of the comments are just pointless and there are developments that have no logic of character or plot, indicating that the movie was even worse at some point and was cut like someone was slicing the bruises off a banana. The special effects look like they were created on Fiverr. The action scenes are muddy and static. At just over 90 minutes, it still feels endless.

And another boneheaded decision: while the comic book characters are adults, somebody decided to age them down into teenagers for this version so we could add in some adolescent angst, a love triangle that is about at the level of who will ask Sue to the prom, and, I am not making this up (I wish I were), the whole superpower thing happens because those darn kids get drunk one night and take the dimensional traveling machine thing out for a tipsy joyride. Think “Fantastic Four 90210.” We’ll have fun, fun, fun ’til Daddy takes the dimensional traveling pod away!

And what is the number one requirement for a superhero movie? A great villain. No such luck here. The bad guy is just a moody misfit who likes the same girl as the other guy and just might blow up the planet over it. And somehow when he’s abandoned for a period of time in another dimension on what looks like another planet with no life forms of any kind, somehow he manages to eat enough to stay alive AND come away with a really cool new cape and hood, sewn for him I guess by little elves? And unless Sue Storm’s new powers include hairstyle changes, the continuity people on this film have some ‘splaining to do.

There is a legendary Fantastic Four movie, available only on bootleg, made in 1994 as an “ashcan” film, not intended for release, just to preserve the studio’s rights to the characters. My bet is that it is better than this version. There is no bad guy in the history of the characters who has inflicted as much damage on the F4 as this sorry, soggy mess. (Thankfully, the plans for the sequel have been scrapped.)

Parents should know this film features extended sci-fi/comic-book peril and violence, some disturbing images of characters getting fried and exploding, parental death, domestic violence, some strong language, and drinking and drunkenness.

Family discussion: Why did Reed run away? How are Reed and Victor alike?

If you like this, try: “The Avengers” and “Iron Man” and the Fantastic Four comics, especially those featuring Galactus

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