**SPOILERS INCLUDED**SPOILERS INCLUDED**
As I hunkered down in my movie theater seat with my standard popcorn and large Icee, I figured no matter how bad the Fantastic Four (2015) could be, at least I would get a crazy salt, butter, and sugar rush. I was wrong. So, so very wrong. It is hard to believe that it has been a decade since the first of two Tim Story directed FF movies were released. But nothing could be worse than those right? Mr. Fantastic getting jiggy with it on the bachelor party floor? What is even harder to fathom is that on a monetary scale, the films did not do all that bad at the box office domestic or worldwide. However, it's been a long decade of brilliant victories for Marvel Studios but one of them is not getting the screen rights back to America's first comics family. After watching director Josh Trank's (Chronicle) interpretation of the FF even after a clearly a gray and cantankerous Tweet was taken down (see below) by the studio because obviously, the auteur was super pissed that there was nothing that could save this movie.
While Miles Teller is a big shot up and coming actor after supporting roles in the new Footloose and last years critical darling Whiplash, he is the last choice I would have picked for wunderkind Reed Richards. And the kid that plays Reed in the 6th grade I just wanted to hurl my ICEE at with lines like, "no, I stopped working on that" when asked about his flying car. His classmate Ben Grimm who is a tiny kid becomes best friends with Reed imparting no scientific knowledge at the High School science fair where Dr. Franklin Storm and other science bigwigs troll for talent these days. Not M.I.T., not Harvard, a High School Gymnasium. If it is at all possible Ben Grimm is now skinnier and then it dawned on me--actor Jamie Bell is the same kid that played ballet dancer Billy Elliott. I'm sorry, but Billy Elliott doesn't just scream "The Thing" to me. Ben, even in human form was always a big guy, a linebacker type--not a guy that would be picked last on the playing field.
We are also introduced to Franklin's children, Sue and Johnny that exchange all of half dozen words the entire movie give or take. Sue is adopted from Kosovo but that is all of the background that we are given on Sue. Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm is all swagger and it gets old, fast. We get, you're the cocky one of the bunch. You're super cool. Johnny likes to fix and race cars in his spare time but his father, who is a big-time inter-dimensional doctor says, "he can fix anything" so sure lets take his word at it I'm sure he'll come off better later this year starring in the Rocky spinoff Creed. And final, y we meet Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) who looks about as intimidating as a late shift barista at Starbucks. After hints of a project gone wrong with Franklin, he cleans himself up and is back helping the team at the BaxteBuildingng. There are equivalents of Rocky training montages as they all prepare for inter-dimensional travel. It is hysterical to watch Kate Mara's wig go from blonde-brown to full blonde to 60's looking Jack Kirby blonde. It reminded me of Bill Murray in Kingpin where his hair is different in every shot. Basically, such a cutie like Kate was wasted in this role. I started hitting my ICEE hard to get a brain freeze, anything to take me away from this awful violation of my childhood on the screen that was about as enjoyable as a rainy day at a theme park.
So excited is the team that they cracked the code with no high security around, no high trained military with guns, nothing--they decide to get drunk. And just for kicks, Reed calls Ben down to the Baxter building from Brooklyn to enjoy in the celebration. And by celebration, I mean to go on an interdimensional journey with them because "what the hell, he's a pal! I'm sure he'll be fine if he comes with us on this little journey." Susan is not even in tow but working on a computer listening to Portishead, yes, that's her thing. So these four boneheads go into this vessel and are off to what they call "Planet Zero." Somehow Planet Zero and the production design team managed to make this alternate space look more boring than any alternate sci-fi world I've ever seen on film. It looks like a big flat volcano and things go bad immediately because of their cumulative IQ, these are idiots in a moronic film with the idea to travel inter-dimensionally while semi-intoxicated. They lose Victor because he wants to see more or something, I don't really know. The other three get back to their pods all passed out somehow, and are returned to regular space but, wait for it... Sue is affected too even though she didn't actually make the trip. I've read on the internet that Sue was just hiding but where?? It was a four-person pod and she didn't even know what was going on until she took off her damn headphones.
So I guess after everyone in the entire Baxter building returns from maybe the holiday party or whatever, the four are taken to a special facility called Area 57 where their powers can be honed and used for combat. Shocking. Reed escapes with ease and manages to stay off the grid for a year strictly by changing the appearance of his face with his stretchy powers. When they do get him back, Grimm is pretty pissed considering he's now like 650 pounds of rock with zero underwear. It's ironic that The Thing has zero underwear to cover his thing. Violet Parr from The Incredibles is far more exciting than Sue Storm (Kate Mara) who I adore in real life and her one extended display of powers looks like they stole it right out of the Pixar Classic The Incredibles. Speaking of The Incredibles (sequel due out in 2016), all FF 2015 did for me... made me more excited for that.
When Doom does come back on the scene, he looks like he has enjoyed his time on Planet Zero. He is more scarred up and silvery and frankly, the look was a risk that did not pay off. Call me crazy but Dr. Doom is really just a costume and one that you can't really screw around with. As bad as the two movies were from Tim Story, Doom still looked pretty cool IMO. I kept thinking of Warren Ellis' Ultimate FF from the early 2000's and what a wonderful read that was back in the day but with a group like this that do not have separate adventures like those of The Avengers before they team up, it is crazy to try and one up them with perfect casting let alone perfect CGI.
When the team does reunite, they're not a team. They are just people caught in the same car crash no one was planning. I never once got the impression that any of these guys wanted to work together. And thank God that they did not make action figures because nobody's wearing any costumes/uniforms/or battle gear. They are just there and in one of perhaps the most humiliating ending scenes of all time, the four "members" have some real quirky and punchy dialogue that goes like this and yes, this happens and it is as uncomfortable as you can imagine. They might have just done a jumping group high five where they freeze the frame! (MAKE SURE AND READ THE LAST PICTURE WITH WHAT THE STUDIO WROTE ABOUT THE UPCOMING MOVIE! LOL!)
Here's the dialogue:
(At the very end, when they see their new base, they decide they need a group name)
Reed: I think that the four of us need a name.
Sue: Why would we need a name?
Reed: Because we're a team now, and there's four of us...so, we should come up with a name for it.
Johnny: Like, The Human Torch and Torch-ets
Ben: How about The Big Brain and his Neurons?
Sue: How about The Big Brain and HER Neurons?
Johnny: How about two guys, a girl, and The Thing that nobody wanted?
Reed: (To Ben, looking at their new base) We've come a long way since the garage.
Ben: Gotta say, it's fantastic.
Reed: Say that again.
Ben: It's fantastic.
Reed: Yes, it is! Guys, I got it! Ready?
(End title card pops up) Fant4stic. The end.
Josh Trank has probably not taken the head off of his pillow since the review for FF but it's not his fault. Taking on a Marvel movie that is not a Marvel movie is a ridiculous task and I truly feel bad for the guy. Hopefully master of the MCU Kevin Feige can somehow swoop in and somehow work his magic to get the FF back to Marvel along with the X-Men. As far as 2015's Fantastic Four, there are at least three minor skin conditions I would rather have than watch this again.
* out of 5 ***** (And that one star is only because the movie managed to make it into actual theaters) Avoid this at all costs, for yourselves, not for AFJ. It is an abyss.