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The Fantastic(ish) Four

Nick - 13 Aug 2015

Spoiler alert: I can't spoil this movie any more than the writer already did, but I'll try. Be warned. If you haven't seen the movie, God bless you.

I won't keep you in suspense: Fantastic Four is not the worst superhero movie I've ever seen *cough*Catwoman*cough*, which is damning with faint praise. It's a pile of crap, but not a steaming, fetid pile of cat crap.

The problems with it are myriad. And they all stem from the script. Big hint, movie execs: When someone pitches a movie with the word "reimagine" in it, RUN! And I can only imagine that the pitch meeting for Fantastic Four was so rife with the "r-word" that it must have eventually become senseless to the ear. Also, when the people who write the film are not drooling, eye-twitching comic book fanatics, you're going to get a lousy comic book movie. Again, Fantastic Four isn't Green Lantern bad, or sew-Wade-Wilson's-mouth-shut bad, but pretty bad. Of the three credited writers of this script, the only one I'd personally trust with a superhero movie is Simon Kinberg. Sadly, the fingerprints of the fourth, uncredited writer are all over this movie. The Committee.

There's so much about this movie that reeks of being written by a committee. I can only imagine the meetings:

"We have to get rid of the Thing's pants." "I'm sorry... what, now?" "People will mistake him for the Hulk." "Ummm... no, they won't. They look nothing alike." "Well, they look alike to me. Lose the pants." "Ummm... but then he's naked." "He's made of rocks, right? No penis, no problem. Lose the pants." "Okay. Sorry, Alicia. Sorry, Debbie." "Who?" "Never mind."

"What's the demographic for comic books? Twelve year old boys, right? Let's make a movie for twelve year old boys. Can our heroes be twelve year old boys?" "Okay, two things: First, one of them is a girl. Second, shouldn't the people who build an interdimensional teleporter have at least been to college?" "Hey, babe! we're not married to the idea! So, make 'em really, like, gifted and stuff, and have them start at a college and then we can just drop the whole idea of college and the audience will never know the difference. Because they're all twelve-year-old boys. Right?"

Look: here's the formula for a superhero movie: Big action set piece at the start. Exposition. Make us care about the hero(es). Set up a bad guy. Make us hate him or her. Big action piece. Problems. More problems. Good guys look like they're going to lose. The entire fourth act is a huge action set piece, where our hero(es) win out through pluck and determination and purity of heart. And, if it's a team, finally overcoming their differences to work together.

Here's the formula for this movie: Exposition, exposition, exposition, exposition. Most of it without us caring about any of these cardboard characters all that much. A tiny bit of action when someone remembered this is supposed to be a superhero movie. Exposition. We learn that the bad guy (the Man, man!) isn't really the bad guy after all. The not-dead guy is. That's new! Three-minute fight. Done.

And the characters couldn't be thinner. I get that this is not Hamlet, but the characters would be more dimensional if they'd physically been cut out of a comic book. Does Sue have a thing for Reed? Maybe. If they ever talked to each other, we'd know. Oh, that's right - at the end she puts her hand on his shoulder. That actually shocked me. Except for bro hugs and a head butt, this is pretty much the only time anybody touches anybody in this movie. Except the Dad. He's a hugger. Reed and Ben are life-long pals. Then Ben hates Reed. Then they're pals again. So, that worked out.

Action? Not so much. Ben rips up some tanks on television. Johnny destroys a target drone. Sue moves a couple of shipping containers. Which, for all we know, were empty. Which makes it a much less impressive feat than if they'd just opened a friggin' door and let us see a load of Acme anvils!

And let's talk about that end fight. Everybody basically takes one punch at Doom to show off their superpower, and then they throw him in the dimensional warp they stole from the Avengers, and the movie is over. Tell me there's not one person who didn't see that one coming!

It's not that the movie was bad (but it was). It's not that the script was so thin and lifeless (but it was). It was the fact that it was blindingly clear throughout the movie that the writers, the director, and The Committee so deeply, thoroughly, and completely disrespected their audience. That, in the final analysis, is what really pisses us off about this movie. Shame on you. Go back to writing teen angst love stories, and leave us alone.

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