20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox
I'm going to be straight with you. Fantastic Four was bad. Like, really bad. I don't normally like to be this negative right off the bat but it is what it is.
I went in with trepidation; we've all heard rumors that this movie was a disaster, with director drama and frantic re-shoots all. And then there were the very questionable trailers. They weren't inherently bad, but they didn't exactly give off the requisite goose bumps we get from, say, The Avengers. After all, should you be bored during what is essentially a two-minute highlight reel of a movie? Probably not.
But despite all that, the final flick was actually...much, much worse than I imagined. I've never actually felt sad during a superhero movie before. I was sad for everybody—sad for Fox, who spent so much money on the thing; sad for the actors, who are just trying so darn hard to make something out of nothing; and sad for myself, for having given up 100 minutes on a beautiful summer evening.
I had several problems with the movie: The script was terrible, there was no plot whatsoever, there was no tension or legitimate drama. The audience basically spent 100 minutes for some kids to come up with the team name Fantastic Four. If this movie had a catchphrase, it would probably be something along the lines of "Literally what is happening?"
But I'm not here to be all negative—this is about constructive criticism. I really like superhero movies, I really really like the cast, and I want the filmmakers to learn from their (very, very grave) mistakes for the sequel. Because if they don't, well, God have mercy on our souls. I think with just a few tweaks here and there this movie could turn from a snoozy trailer to what it's actually supposed to be: a movie.
1. Make Dr. Doom scary. Rumors have been swirling that the infamous Fantastic Four villain was going to be a tech blogger in this version. While that's kind of true, it's really not the most offensive part about him—it's the fact that he provokes literally zero fear in the audience. Last we checked villains were supposed to be scary, but this guy is given so little screen time that he comes off as an angst-y nuisance more than anything else.
2. No cheesy one-liners. Okay fine, this is a superhero movie and one-liners are par for the course. But they could very easily be less cheesy. The fact that someone actually sat at a computer and typed out dialogue like "Victor, don't do this!" and "He's mine!" and didn't think they could do better is truly terrifying.
3. Write dialogue for the first act. Again, this is a superhero movie so I wasn't exactly expecting stimulating conversations. But shouldn't there be some conversations, period? I swear there was a point in the first third of the movie where I suddenly realized the actors had been silent for a solid five minutes. That ain't right. We need to be able to care about these characters at least a little bit, and that isn't going to happen just from montages of them working on spaceships.
4. Throw out Miles Teller's cargos. Raise your hand if you've ever been personally offended by Miles Teller's pants. Surely there's another way to get across the point that Reed Richards is geek.
5. Throw out Michael B. Jordan's shirts. Michael B. Jordan is a very good and very serious actor. He was transcendent and moving in Fruitvale Station or whatever. But this is not Fruitvale Station, Johnny Storm is not transcendent and moving, so the least they could do is give us a peek at the goods. Don't we deserve it, after all this film has put us through?
6. Get rid of the origin story. How many times do audiences have to say that they're sick of origin stories? Has the endless stream of yawn-tastic Spider-Man movies taught us nothing? At the very least, Fantastic Four's origin story should have been cut way, way down. I understand that they want to introduce this new cast and show possibly new fans how the heroes got their genetic mutations in the first place, but the filmmakers forgot to have anything happen after that. They took an entire movie to achieve what a single flashback could have done. Which brings me to my next points...
7. Hire a new director. I mean seriously, I don't want to place blame, but WTF. This movie was slow, there was no real plot, and it was boring af. Last I checked it's kinddd offf the director's job to make sure that's not the case.
8. Hire a new special effects team. Okay just a little bit more blame and then I'm done, I promise. The CG here was pretty darn bad. It's probably really hard to create an entire other universe on a computer, but when the movie's only exciting (or supposedly exciting) aspects are crazy super powers like lighting yourself on fire or creating a giant force-field, they have to look cool.
9. Blow out the final fight scene. Give the people what they want, guys! We just spent 95 minutes waiting to see the Fantastic Four actually do something fantastic, only to be let down in the end. Something tells me this section is where all that reshoot drama came from. I think I actually blinked and missed most of it.
10. Raise the stakes. Audiences need to care about the universe of a superhero movie. Fantastic Four actually did a pretty alright job of portraying how traumatizing the accident that gave the kids their powers was, but it doesn't build up anything else. Not to get all Avenger-y again, but the movies are a great example of creating a super badass problem for the heroes to solve. There's a nuclear bomb! A piece of land is going to crush the entire earth! Something! Anything! Fantastic spends approximately 2.2 seconds explaining why the heroes need to take down Dr. Doom, and about half that showing what is actually going wrong back on Earth. The end result is that we don't give a s--t if they defeat doom.
11. Less gazing at computer screens. We get it, the superheroes are a group of super smart nerds who are trying to invent a way to transport matter from another universe. Doing that involves a lot of sitting at a computer and saying tech jargon. But does that need to be half the movie?
12. Less fake typing while gazing at computer screens. Come on Kate Mara, we know you're just banging some keys.
13. Use your cast! Fantastic Four is made up of some of our favorite actors of this generation. They are smart and funny and good at flailing around on screen pretending to be somebody else. So give them something interesting to do godda--it. None of them had to take this job, after all.