Fantastic Four (Percent Rotten)

Fantastic Four
Directed by: Josh Trank 
Starring: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell
Release Date: August 7, 2015
Run Time: Approximately 900 minutes

I don't know if you guys heard any of the buzz, but apparently a lot of people dislike this movie.

This movie is a magnificent work of art, and the only way to really appreciate it is to go through the whole thing. There’s spoilers, but you know good and well you’re not going to watch it. 

30 year old high schoolers Reed Richards and Ben Grimm are competing in a children’s science fair for infant babies, not grown adults with pubes and health insurance. His entry into this extra credit opportunity for literal children: an interdimensional teleporter. His prize for bending the rules of time and space as we know it? Disqualified by Homer Simpson because it's a science fair, not a magic show. Yep, it's going to be one of those movies.

Fear not Ben and Reed, for your savior is here. Franklin Storm and his adult teenage child daughter Sue are conveniently hanging out at this school's science fair. You know, scoping out model solar systems in case one of them happened to crack interdimensional travel or how to make a DIY rain gauge. Franklin recruits the manboy to join his government funded who gives a shit. There he works with our main characters and we get to learn about them as agonizingly slowly as possible. Sue Storm….likes music, I guess. Johnny Storm totals a car he built by hand and in turn is allowed to work on a teleporter. Victor von Doom is also a supergenius hacker who shitposts on /v/ all day and is vaguely Middle Eastern so he's probably the bad guy. 

It’s at about this point in the movie where everyone works together through a riveting montage and successfully build a portal and it’s great and awesome and everyone's getting to know each other. They're growing closer as a team and more importantly something is finally happening four hours into the film. But I want to pull the emergency break here on a scene that nearly broke me. Franklin is giving all the adult boy kids the pitch: if they can teleport to a new planet or dimension or whosafudge, they might find a bunch of new minerals or whatever and save Earth, or maybe go populate that planet instead. That or something equally vague and stupid. Victor takes this opportunity to grandstand about how mankind has already ruined one planet and we shouldn’t do it to another and people are bad and God and the bible. As God as my witness, Sue looks at him and says “Listen to Dr. Doom over here."

I swear to fucking God.

Sidebar here. I had no interest in seeing this movie. I went with a friend on the Thursday it opened because I was moving that Saturday morning, and any excuse to get away from packing away all of my personal belongings and cheap pieces of consumer plastic that filled my empty life was welcomed. That line made me so uncomfortable that I couldn't make eye contact. I wanted to walk out (of my own skin) and go back to packing but I just knew if I walked out of the theater all of my friends and family and everyone I had ever had a crush on would be waiting outside the door to humiliate me for having the most embarrassing experience of my life. 

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I get my bearings back just in time for them to finish building their portal and successfully send a CGI monkey straight from one of the Planet of the Apes reboots to the parallel dimension and back. They refer to it as Planet Zero because of course they do and at this point I’m so broken I don’t even wince. You can’t hurt me anymore, movie. I will not give you that power over me. 

The experiment works and everyone except the audience is really happy. It took 7 hours but a thing happened in the movie, and it's immediately taken away when they're told they're not going to be the ones to go into space, the shadow realm, or whatever the fuck Monster Zero name it is. Reed, Johnny, and Victor get shithouse drunk and decide they're gonna get the glory. Reed calls up Ben because the movie forgot to give him a reason to be at the lab and the four of them go to this magical forbidden world. They leave their pods and embark on a journey through a new world. Is it a separate planet? Is it even in their solar system? Is it in their universe? Is it just some backwards dream dimension? Is it a time machine? We'll never know, because they shove their hands into piles of magical green space Gak. The smartest men on the planet just ram jam their digits into holes in the ground and then are surprised when everything goes tits up. The ground starts violently erupting for some reason and in the chaos Victor is left behind as the other three escape, and he is never mentioned again until there's about 20 minutes left in the movie. 

This is all of the action you get for the first hour and a half so you better enjoy it

Their magic school bus returns to Earth and promptly explodes into a cloud of magical bullshit and everyone gets their powers. Finally. It's an origin story, so we're going to get what this type of movie promises. They learn how to use their powers, and they learn to work as a team. At this point the movie takes a really dark tonal shift. It becomes this weird Chronenbergian body horror movie for a scene. The Thing is slowly pulling himself out of the rubble asking what he's become, Johnny is engulfed in flame and doesn't know how to stop it, Reed is stretched out on an operating table and seeing himself for the first time, and Sue is a woman. Reed contorts his uncontrollable body in horrifying ways to escape and for the first time in this movie I'm actually invested in what's going on.

Smash cut to one year later.

Are you fucking joking me, movie? You know that one thing you’re here for? Well suck a dick, dumbshit. You’re not going to get any of that, you’re going to get Reed fixing a cash register and Sue flying in a magic bubble. Not a single character has any sort of growth. They get their powers, and then literally seconds later they have full control over them. Glad I could follow them through this harrowing arc. Oh by the way, it’s a full year later and Reed still hasn’t come back for Ben. Why hasn’t he come back, you ask? Great question. 

Anyways, Sue is able to track Reed from a callback to a garbage scene from earlier and Ben is sent to capture him. You see, Ben, Sue, and Johnny are all being used as government weapons. That sounds pretty interesting, right? I mean you hear Ben has multiple confirmed kills, sure would be fun to watch him get air dropped into a base and dumpster a bunch of insert foreigners here. Too bad it's all offscreen and didn't fit in their re-shoot budget. I guess hearing a character talk about it is as exciting as seeing it. 

I could watch that tank explode a thousand times and never get sick of it

The gang interacts for 20 minutes of garbage dead end plot points, because if you don't beat us over the head with the fact that they don't get along then it won't be as important when they work together as a team in the finale. Because these re-shoots were done for 12 year olds. The big bad military creates another portal and send a bunch of scrubs back to the magical dimension world planet thing. Surprise, Victor is still there. This is literally the first time he's been mentioned since their initial trip. There wasn't one scene of "hey guys it was really fucked up that you got your friend killed and just left his body there, good thing his family didn't say anything." He was completely forgotten about until it was time for him to be in the movie again. 

Victor has had an entire year to stew about being left to die and most likely has some sort of magic powers. Do they put a bullet in his brain and drag his corpse back to Earth and experiment on him? Nope, he's welcomed back with open arms. It's ok sociopath, come with us so we can prod at you. Everything's going to be just fi-oh he has telekinesis now. Also his space suit is fused into his skin, because this movie can't even get the look of one of Marvel's most iconic villains right.

Very ballsy move to take one of the most recognizable characters in Marvel history and make him look like total dogshit
Now that he's back in this movie after 14 hours of nothing, he has magic powers and thinks the entire human race must be destroyed before he goes back to his empty garbage rock planet. Why? Because [footage not found]

At this point there's nothing this movie could do to make me recommend it, but his return gives way to the only scene in the movie I actually liked, which is him telekinetically popping heads. It's literally a scene of him walking down corridors and making people's heads explode with his mind. If you wanna wake me up in the middle of a boring movie, that's a pretty good way to do it. He kills Franklin and I guess it's supposed to be sad or something and then he teleports back to the magic green goop and rock world. Why? Great questions. You see, 

Luckily there's another teleporter. I don't remember how or why and I don't care enough to look it up. The four of them follow Doom to Planet Zero for your standard summer movie climax. And as far as big stupid action scenes's garbage. Doom activates a portal that consumes Earth by bringing it through the portal and destroying it. Or something. It makes no sense and is incredibly obvious that it was shoehorned in after Trank left the project. Here's how the entire finale of the movie goes: Doom beats them up with mind powers. He throws rocks at them, forgoing his superpower of head implosion in favor of Pokemon attacks. They work as a team. They launch him into his own beam and he is disintegrated. Hurray teamwork. The portal is closed. Everyone is saved, except for the thousands of people that weren't. Doom dies after being in the movie for 10 minutes fighting on a planet that looks like the pre-rendered background of a PS2 game. Way to go out with a wet fart.  

It seriously ends that quickly. The climax of this movie is essentially a comedian bombing on stage and then just saying fuck it and going straight to his closing joke and getting off the stage as fast as he can.

You better wrap that gavel up, Josh
BUT WAIT. There's more. You didn't think it'd be over already, did you? I mean you really hoped, but it's not. We have to end the movie on a bang. And by a bang, I mean the exact same ending as Age of Ultron. They do the naming the team gag. They argue over names, not a single one of them is funny. Then Reed looks at the camera and the credits roll because even the movie is too embarrassed to have him say it. The lights come up. The half empty theater on opening night slowly shuffles out. Nobody waits for a post credits scene. I remember that I paid 15 dollars for the ticket and think about throwing myself into traffic. 

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I don't mean to alarm anyone, but I wasn't a big fan of this particular film. It's insane that a movie with this many good pieces could be such a Trankwreck (Get it? High five). Josh Trank has only directed one previous movie, but it was an interesting take on the superhero genre. As for the cast: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell. If you're going the route of getting mostly unknown, great, and cheap actors and building a franchise with them, you can't do much better. Every single one of them is wasted. They're all sleepwalking through terrible dialogue and boring CGI filled action scenes. I had to rewatch Whiplash to remind myself that Miles Teller is actually a fantastic actor. 

I'm pretty ignorant about the comic, but at this point I just feel like it's one of those things that's never going to work as a serious summer blockbuster. It's too much a relic of the 60's, and trying to turn it into a super serious dark, brooding movie is never going to work. I don't care how talented of a writer or director you are, you can't have a character named Victor von Doom and expect anyone to not snicker at it. The fact that his name is clearly ADRed into a scene where nobody's mouth is visible says volumes. As goofy of a franchise as it is, even Trank was like Jesus Christ guys we can't really pretend this human being's name is Von Doom. And then they shitcanned him and said it anyways. That'll teach you. Grab a producer and get him to say Victor von Frankenfurter into the mic.

Guys, I'm starting to have second thoughts about this project

It's not just the names (although I will never get sick of the abundance of alliteration in old comic names), it's their abilities. I don't care how many good stories there are to pull from. I don't care if you grew up with these characters and love them. It's dumb. Too dumb for what Josh Trank wanted to make. Flying with a magic bubble is dumb. Stretch Armstrong is dumb. Giant rock monster is dumb. Dr. Doom's look is dumb. It's all really fuckin dumb and doesn't fit into a grimdark movie about a scientist and his friends becoming ungodly abominations. 

FOX took a look at what Trank turned in and decided it wasn't going to work. So they decided to go ahead and just re-shoot a third of the movie. What's the worst that could happen? I mean, stomping all over a director's vision worked so well for Alien 3, and all the Fantastic Four movies just print money for them. Why wouldn't they pump so much money into trying to patch it together that they didn't even bother converting it to 3d? 

I understand reshooting scenes, but I’ve never seen a studio scrap a third of a movie and purposely create a pre-Marvel Cinematic Universe comic book movie. They had a chance to take a risk and do something interesting, and instead they went back and created a movie on the level of Ghost Rider or Blade Trinity. This movie wishes it had Wesley Snipes communicating with the director solely through Post-it notes. Or Wesley Snipes at all. 

You can’t make a body horror film that turns into Stretch Armstrong, a rock monster, and their friends stopping evil with the power of friendship. That’s not how movies work. It goes from The Fly to a C-tier Avengers knockoff. Trank had a vision and Fox went "wait, did you say Dr. Doom's name isn't von Doom? And he's a blogger? Fuck that." Trank wanted a horrifying depiction of gaining powers and FOX reminded him that it's called the Fantastic Four, not the Oh Jesus Christ Why am I a Giant Pile of Rocks I am an Abomination Please Mercy Kill Me Four. What you're left with is 2/3 of a truncated version of Trank's vision with relationships either cut down or cut out, but nevertheless there to set up all the pins followed by a bunch of reshoots that knock down none of them. It's a pilot to a new F4 series with the season finale tacked onto the end of it.

Not to say that if Trank had had his way this movie would have been some sort of masterpiece. From what I understand the first 2/3 of the film was all him, and I was bored shitless through it. It’s just a shame that the second something interesting happened in the movie Kate Mara’s hilarious wig appeared and signaled the beginning of trite nonsense. 

This is the production budget of a literal Summer blockbuster

It feels unfinished. The effects are horrendous (the reshoot CGI looks worse than Chronicle, which was made for about a tenth of the budget), the blonde wig is the laziest thing I’ve ever seen in a movie of this size, and the entire finale feels like it was taken out of one of the Jessica Alba Four movies. Fantastic Four feels like pieces from five different puzzles all being jammed into one another. It doesn't matter if they don't go together, we've already plastered The Four all over soda cans so fucking make it fit. There weren't any trailers until January. They didn't even bother post-converting it to 3d. Their marketing campaign was Denny's and Orange Crush. 

This is also the production budget of a Summer blockbuster

So what’s left after this patchwork job? A movie that isn’t really for anybody. Kids sure aren’t going to enjoy scenes of government employees getting the back of their heads blown into bloody chunks. Fans of the comic definitely won’t enjoy a black Johnny Storm the movie. Typical summer crowds won’t enjoy 85 minutes of dicking around in a lab. People who want to be entertained certainly won't get anything from it. In trying to salvage what they’d already shot and pleasing everyone they pleased no one. The best summary I've ever heard is from The Weekly Planet, who called it a "biopic of a boring scientist.” 

The rushed paragraph at the end of the plot summary above about Doom being defeated with the power of friendship? That’s the action. That’s all of it. Nothing else happens. Do you want four people with unique powers working together in innovative ways? Wrong movie, dickhead. It’s an origin story that gets all the way to the interesting part of any origin and then jumpcuts past all of it before bulldozing into a finale that looks fresh out of 2002. This movie has four characters with four powers and a teleportation machine. They can go anywhere and do anything and they spend the entire movie in labs and rock planets. 

I can't recommend this to anyone as anything other than some weird anomaly. It doesn't even have the decency to be an entertaining spectacle. It's like when you're scrolling through your TV's guide and you land on SyFy and see a movie with Crocosaurus in the name and you get all excited at how ridiculous it's going to be, and then you realize 20 minutes in that it's nothing but boring dialogue and bad CGI. That's Fantastic Four. There's no fun to be had here. Nothing happens. It's a boring trainwreck and to this day I don't understand why FOX is so desperate to hold onto the rights. How many times does a movie have to tank before you give up on it? Who am I kidding, 6 years from now Jaden Smith will be Johnny Storm and Will will be Franklin, glaring at him off screen because this fucking kid is going to be the second coming of him no matter what anyone says. 

It's not the worst super hero movie ever made and it's not a 9% rotten movie. Poor storytelling and a shitty finale? There are about two dozen other pre-Iron Man comic book movies that are just as bad. That doesn't mean I ever want to see it again. I said I initially had no interest in seeing it, but I always go into a movie hoping it's entertaining - good or bad. But I knew 3 minutes in when a young Ben Grimm got smacked around by his abusive older brother who yelled "It's clobberin' time" that I was not going to enjoy the remaining 700 minutes. The only way I would ever watch this again is if it was picture-in-picture with a camera on Josh Trank as he watched it for the first time. It would be like Orson Welles destroying that room in Citizen Kane but even sadder. 

The bar to be the best F4 movie was lower than a Jamaican limbo pole, and yet I'd rather watch the Roger Corman version than sit through this again. I don't want to say there's never going to be a good Fantastic Four movie, I'm just gonna say they still haven't made one better than The Incredibles

Not Recommend. Not now, Not ever.

If you want some more info about how utterly fucked the production was, check out this handy video. 


  1. "Hey, we just went to an alternate dimension for the first time, lets touch everything"

    The Prometheus school of science

    1. As dumb as their actions were, I paid real American Obama Funbucks to see this movie, so who's the real idiot?

      It's me.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. HEY! I'LL COME BACK FOR YOU CHILDHOOD FRIEND (1 year later) Hey..who was Ben Grimm again?

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  4. This one is a fun adventure about a group of friends who gain superpowers after a trip to space goes wrong. They use their powers to fight an evil villain and save the world. It's a classic superhero story with some humor and cool special effects.