Finally saw Fantastic Four, the latest misguided attempt to create a definitive movie version of the seminal Lee/Kirby comic book, and my personal favourite comic book, thanks to almost 100 issues of unparalleled genius from the minds of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and the mostly excellent John Byrne run in the first half of the 80s.
This movie has been universally panned, and I didn’t make it to the theater to watch it – and from my use of “misguided” you can pretty much tell where this review is going. In a word, the movie is dreadful. It doesn’t work on any level, either as an adaptation, or as a coherent action movie. Because of the budget and talent on both sides of the camera, it’s not really overstating it to say this might be the worst comic book adaptation of all time – certainly the worst I’ve ever seen.
First of all the baggage. This movie comes with a tremendous amount of it. Having seen three movie versions of “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine!” turn out to be mostly garbage, it strikes me that what works on paper just doesn’t work on screen. Reed’s power just comes off as goofy in live action, and Sue’s is too passive, leaving the more visually striking powers of Johnny and Ben to provide the dynamism. Trank’s version commits a cardinal sin: it doesn’t improve one bit on the last two. A lot of that is due to the horrendous screenplay which spends over half its running time on a largely uninteresting and insanely protracted origin story that could have easily have been summarized in the first 15 minutes. Add that to the fact that the writing is full of depressingly lazy shorthand, and the bad guy doesn’t appear until 13 minutes of screentime remain (I checked), and you get a movie that’s utterly unwatchable.
I find it hard to comprehend exactly why the climactic confrontation took place, from a writer’s point of view: the ONLY reason Doom appears at the end is because he happened to be in the vicinity of the transport module, and less than five minutes later, he’s already got a plan to destroy the Earth? And yeah, this took a TEAM of writers. Not only that, they also created a version of Dr. Doom that’s EVEN WORSE than that of the previous two movies. It’s incomprehensible to me that nobody can create a faithful version of perhaps the greatest comic book villain ever created. An ugly, meaningless, artlessly crafted piece of garbage that could well be a career ender for Josh Trank.
© Andrew Hope 2015