Fantastic Four (2015)
August 7, 2015 6:33 AM - Subscribe

Four young outsiders teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe which alters their physical form in shocking ways. The four must learn to harness their new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.

Critics and audiences agree--this movie is terrible! As of this posting it has a 9% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a score of 27 on Metacritic.
posted by Timmoy Daen (66 comments total)
Saw this last night and it is indeed fucking horrible. Going grimdark (or Grimmdark uggggggggh I'm sorry, but at the same time this shitty joke is better than anything in the movie) for Fantastic Four does not work at all. I can't say I was surprised by its awfulness, as it is pretty much exactly what I expected it to be, but I'm still disappointed.

I'm not sure why it's apparently so damn hard to make a good Fantastic Four movie, but all of them have been some of the worst superhero movies ever made. I realize the characters are inherently ridiculous, and that poses a challenge translating it to live action on the big screen. But surely someone can embrace that ridiculousness and make a big, bright, fun movie with Jack Kirby influences spilling off the screen. Blargh.
posted by Timmoy Daen at 6:59 AM on August 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

I realize the characters are inherently ridiculous

No more so than a giant green anger monster or a Norse god-alien with a hammer and freaking wings on his helmet.

Or Captain America's outfit.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:44 AM on August 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Damn it, usually I really hate myself when I find myself taking any amount of glee in artists' very public failures...But when Josh Trank was unceremoniously released from his Star Wars spin-off movie earlier this year, I pulled up a chair, got a bucket of popcorn and I've been sitting right here by the broken tracks waiting for the Fantastic Four train to barrel through. It does help to not have any investment in the property taking the dive.

Though actually, who knows...This thing could still make a billion dollars. I wouldn't put anything past anybody.

Chronicle was very forgettable, I thought, apart from Dane DeHaan's performance. But maybe it will end up being Trank's best ever.
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:46 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure why it's apparently so damn hard to make a good Fantastic Four movie

For the exact same reason that Pa Kent told Clark to let the busload of children drown in Man of Steel. Large swaths of Hollywood are simply way too cynical for the kind of Silver Age optimism that these characters require.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:47 AM on August 7, 2015 [16 favorites]

No more so than a giant green anger monster or a Norse god-alien with a hammer and freaking wings on his helmet.

I would argue that Stretchy Man is a bit more ridiculous than Hulk or Thor, but that's splitting hairs.

This movie really is a train wreck, but it's not one in any interesting or entertaining way. It's just poorly done on every level. The writing and dialogue is straight-up terrible throughout, most of the cast (who have all done solid-to-genuinely-great work elsewhere) is completely inert at best and actively look like they want to be somewhere else at worst, scenes are edited incoherently, and some of the special effects are shockingly bad (especially in contrast to others that are truly impressive). There are glimpses of what Trank's alleged intentions were throughout the film, and when they appear it's momentarily possible to imagine how this could have been something really interesting. In the end, though, that just makes it even more frustrating that the final product is such a disaster.

Large swaths of Hollywood are simply way too cynical for the kind of Silver Age optimism that these characters require.

That's a very appropriate observation not just for this film, but for the awful Green Lantern movie from a few years back, too. There were hints that someone wanted to approach the material in that case with a Silver Age sensibility, but due to whatever factors that whole component was totally half-assed. Very probably because sincerity and optimism make some people deeply uncomfortable. A lot of these comics characters are inherently campy, and it would be great if someone took that and ran with it like the Wachowskis did with Speed Racer. But as long as people keep paying to see this stuff, we'll keep getting totally misguided, dour versions of things that should be *fun*.
posted by tomorrowromance at 8:02 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Large swaths of Hollywood are simply way too cynical for the kind of Silver Age optimism that these characters require.

Captain America would politely but firmly disagree.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:03 AM on August 7, 2015

Captain America is why I said "large swaths of Hollywood" and not "all of Hollywood".
posted by 1970s Antihero at 8:06 AM on August 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yeah, Captain America is kind of the rare exception, and even then it's a case where his character embodies that Silver Age optimism, but the movies he appears in don't. Which of course they play around with all the time (eg Cap's stance on cussin' in the newest Avengers, his adjusting to a modern, cynical world in Winter Soldier, etc).

In summation, this Fantastic Four really fucking sucks.
posted by Timmoy Daen at 8:20 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's nice to think that people will now be nostalgic for the early 2000s FF movies, which I quite enjoyed, really. Not world-shattering, but fun, and vaguely recognisable as FF.

A decent FF film really ought to be set in the early 1960s - preferably colour-graded like OSS 117 or the new Man From U.N.C.L.E. Hopefully, when Fox give up and let Marvel have the rights back, they'll seamlessly integrate it. And, yes FFS (or FFFS, perhaps), it should be fun.
posted by Grangousier at 8:21 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Captain America is why I said "large swaths of Hollywood" and not "all of Hollywood".

Captain America nods abashedly and chuckles at his oversight. He slaps you on the back and offers to buy the next round of the local lager.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:22 AM on August 7, 2015 [10 favorites]

Has anyone gotten to the bottom of the decision about Ben's wardrobe?

Other than "what's up with that?", I haven't seen a thing.
posted by Herodios at 9:44 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

As a friend tweeted:
"Every true word in the title of the movie I saw last night: Four."
posted by Etrigan at 9:50 AM on August 7, 2015 [6 favorites]

I did find the fact that The Thing is naked very distracting, mostly because I kept thinking of that recent Clickhole article about Winnie the Pooh every time he was on the screen:

"He has beady serpent eyes and zero genitals, which is something we know because he never wears any pants or undergarments. In fact, he’s practically bragging about not having a penis. But even if he did have a penis, he wouldn’t know it, because his fat belly would keep him from seeing anything below his sad bear tits."
posted by tomorrowromance at 10:02 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

This movie really is a train wreck, but it's not one in any interesting or entertaining way.

So it's part of the trend that follow the Star Wars Christmas special (and Return of the Jedi onward) and Star Trek the Original Series episode The Alternative Factor as models for film and television plot and dialogue. See also the new Doctor Who series.
posted by juiceCake at 10:07 AM on August 7, 2015

a train wreck, but not one in any interesting or entertaining way.

part of the trend that follow . . . Star Trek episode The Alternative Factor as models

Possibly the worst hour of scripted television in my lifetime.
posted by Herodios at 10:21 AM on August 7, 2015

But maybe it will end up being Trank's best ever.

I think it's pretty obvious that Trank's career as a major studio director was over forever even before Fantastic Four was shoved out onto the stage to have cabbages thrown at it.

Now, with, for example, Vox calling it a "dumpster fire dressed as a movie" and saying that "If the Fantastic Four franchise were a lion, Trank, [and screenwriters] Kinberg, and Slater would be rotting in a jail cell in Zimbabwe," he hasn't exactly proven everyone wrong and won Hollywood's heart with his plucky grit and raw talent.

So yeah, I think it's a safe bet that Chronicle will be Trank's best movie ever.
posted by Naberius at 10:55 AM on August 7, 2015

Captain America is why I said "large swaths of Hollywood" and not "all of Hollywood".

Well, basically Marvel, right? Anyone want to make an argument for a superhero movie hitting this tone well that doesn't involve Captain America or the Guardians of the Galaxy? (And how the hell did they end up the standard bearers for fun?)

Maybe someone at Warner will realize that their TV arm is doing so much better with the DC properties than their movie studio and put those people in charge of the whole Justice League franchise effort.
posted by Naberius at 11:08 AM on August 7, 2015

I haven't seen the film yet, but there was a great comment on reddit last night about the heart of the characters illustrating how far off the mark Trank's version is.
posted by Catblack at 11:12 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

And now Trank is trying to throw Fox under the bus.

I think there's enough blame to go around.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 11:45 AM on August 7, 2015

Maybe someone at Warner will realize that their TV arm is doing so much better with the DC properties than their movie studio and put those people in charge of the whole Justice League franchise effort.

It's always bugged me that Warner has had this constant presence of a DC animation division just casually knocking it out of the park year after year after year and yet they don't put those people in charge of the film adaptations.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:50 AM on August 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

The thing is, Cap is charmingly antique right down to his name. Captain America? It sounds dated, in a wholesome way, so much so that it makes no sense to reboot him in a grimdark universe. Fantastic Four, however, are modern enough in general image (or have been done well enough in recent times) that people can forget that there was such idealism in the Silver Age.

tomorrowromance: that recent Clickhole article about Winnie the Pooh

Ծ_Ծ Winnie the Pooh is a toy bear that has come to life through the imagination of a young boy. As a toy bear come to life, of course his eyes are beady -they're buttons. And who gives toys genitals? That voice is likely coming from Sterling Holloway, about whom I will take no guff.
/taking this too seriously, because I'm annoyed at pieces that make jokes of classic cultural items to be edgy
posted by filthy light thief at 12:31 PM on August 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Or make a the movie set in the 1960's . Let it be corny and mod and faux futuristic. Let it be what it is.
posted by French Fry at 12:36 PM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

>Has anyone gotten to the bottom of the decision about Ben's wardrobe?

The silver age Thing wallowed in self pity and hid from the world. In this grimdark reboot he spends a year working as a government asset, so spending all his time in a violent rage at what's happened to him, he refuses to wear underpants due to sexual frustration. Just a guess.
posted by Catblack at 12:37 PM on August 7, 2015

Has anyone gotten to the bottom of the decision about Ben's wardrobe?

When someone is rock hard, they want to show it off.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:57 PM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Everything Wrong with Fantastic Four, by the Numbers at Wired.

Number Assigned to the Area That Is Basically the Stand-In for Area 51: 57 (Again, we’re not kidding. It’s called Area 57 and its location is “classified.”)

Number of Times Sue Storm Is in An Unconscionably Bad Wig: 5 (at least)

Number of Times You’ll See Michael B. Jordan and Wish You Were Watching Friday Night Lights: 14

posted by Gin and Broadband at 8:12 AM on August 8, 2015

It's tanking hard, only projected to do 28M on its opening weekend, down from earlier projections of 45M.

Such a beautiful clusterfuck. The movie is birthing a minor industry looking at badly it went wrong.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:01 AM on August 8, 2015

Well, basically Marvel, right? Anyone want to make an argument for a superhero movie hitting this tone well that doesn't involve Captain America or the Guardians of the Galaxy?

Arguably The Rocketeer and The Iron Giant, both of which are also period films. The '70s music of Guardians gives the movie a vintage feel as well; that opening dance number to "Come and Get Your Love" is a blatant announcement that this is not a movie that is going to take itself too seriously. If Star-Lord were dancing around to, say, Nine Inch Nails or Coldplay instead, the tone would be cringeworthy.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:30 AM on August 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

The original Spider-Man trilogy, especially 1 and 2, were also very much in that vintage spirit, with the brightly-colored wide-eyed gee-whiz earnestness. You could set those movies in the 1940s and change almost nothing about the plot, dialogue, or style.

The Raimi Spidey movies were almost too earnest, which is why parts of them haven't aged well: they lack both Spider-Man's characteristic snark and Captain America and GOTG's affectionate self-awareness of their own camp aspects. But that's also part of what made Spider-Man stand out at the time, in comparison to violent leather scifi like The Matrix and Blade and the somber beauty of the first X-Men.

(Footnote: Spider-Man opened at the same time as The Phantom Menace, which had similar issues with being over-earnest, but had none of Spidey's compensating charms.)

I wonder if Sam Raimi is available for Fantastic Reboot #4? He couldn't do worse than Fox has been doing.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:54 AM on August 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Deadpool and Weasel’s attempts to insult the new Thing is sidelined by an unnervingly unsung bit of character assassination.

OTOH, the movie does make a point of showing a big ol' (possibly out of season?) menorah on the Grimm family's shelf, so there's that at least. This also adds another data point for my theory that the degree to which a given movie will be disappointing is statistically connected to the likelihood that it will have a Denny's menu tie-in.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:29 AM on August 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Working theory: Doom somehow hijacked Warren Ellis' fictionaut technology from Planetary, came to our world, and got a job writing the Fantastic Four movie.

That was bad. I mean, I wasn't a huge fan of Age of Ultron, or the pre-First Class X-Men movies, and I thought Man of Steel was pretty dumb, but that was baaaad. That wasn't "hey, I didn't like the way the director took this" bad, or "man, I didn't care for how they treated my old favourite character" bad, that was, like, objectively, quantifiably, bad.

My wife got up to go to the washroom at around the 45-minute mark, was gone 5-6 minutes, and came back. She didn't ask what she'd missed. I didn't feel any need to let her know. She'd missed nothing. She literally walked out of 7% of the movie, smack-dab in the middle of the movie, a super-hero movie, and absolutely missed nothing except more post-teens blathering about nothing, or a man in a suit blathering about nothing, or just somebody in general blathering. About nothing.

I'm generally pretty good about not "fanwriting" things; I don't often walk out of a movie with a "here's what they shoulda done" rant -- it usually feels pointless, and kind of presumptuous to assume I know more about script and direction than the people who do it for a living, even if it seems that way at the time.

But this. This could so easily have been not-bad if anyone with an ounce of sense had picked up the script and said "cut 50% out of the first hour, spend it all on Doom, and don't have Doom be essentially a Eurotrash version of Wish Him To The Cornfield Boy with a costume like Princess Leia's bounty hunter outfit had a bad run-in with a blow drier."

God. That movie was so bad it angried up my blood. What a waste of potential, of a license, of actors, of special effects, of human endeavour. Imagining the people-hours of effort and boats of money that went into this thing, its creation really does seem like almost an act of supervillainy.
posted by Shepherd at 12:40 PM on August 8, 2015 [8 favorites]

Yeah, the fact I didn't ask him what I missed when I got up to pee is a pretty good sign.

For me, it was just boring. The climax was anti-climactic, I wish Victor wasn't a weird loner type (at least Julian McMahon was a hot Doom), Michael B. Jordan is wasted, and bless Miles Teller's bland little heart, but I never once thought having a college-age gee-shucks whiz kid as Reed Richards would work (at least Ioan Gruffud was hot). I did like the sweet friendship between Ben and Reed, but yeah, now that Shepherd just pointed it out to me: I know y'all are besties and Grimm had your back, but why did you need to wake him up to take this voyage with you? Really?

Also, Sue not even getting to go on the expedition and getting her powers as a result of their fuck-up left me angry. No agency, just "ooops, we fucked up and you get caught in the crossfire! sorry!".
posted by Kitteh at 12:49 PM on August 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

The biggest mistake in the F4 movies, all of them, is Doom. I know, blasphemy, but bear with me.

Combining an origin story AND Doom is too much. What do you do for an encore after defeating the best villain ever? Nothing, that's what. So don't even try.

Instead, he first movie should be Mole Man, just like the comics. With a massive underground army and some wild ass monsters. Lay out right away that this is going to be over the top. Then go with something interstellar like Annihilus or the Skrulls before bringing on Doom. Show the F4 can handle some pretty powerful enemies, then have Doom come in and level them right away, to demonstrate just how much more dangerous he is than the rest. Do a crossover with the Avengers against Kang. Then you've got Namor and the Atlanteans, Galactus and Silver Surfer, then Doom again (combined with Namor and taking power from the Surfer).

There are so many great F4 stories that are movie-epic sized. Starting with Doom, however, doesn't give him his due.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 1:07 PM on August 8, 2015 [5 favorites]

Why does Doom even have to have an in-movie origin? Just set him up at the beginning of the film like a Bond villain. He's the megalomaniacal leader of a small but threatening Eastern European nation, after all: Give him an underground base, an occult super-science weapon, and a plan to save the world by destroying it, and that's all you need.

On the off chance that pulp villainy isn't "realistic" enough for you, the real world in the present day has no shortage of bigger-than-life dictatorial types to model a "realistic" Doom on. Just take the ruthlessness of an Assad, the totalitarian zeal of a Kim, and the macho showboating of a Putin, then put it in a mask and cloak. It's not hard.

Why the people behind that last two attempts at an FF franchise both tried turning an iconic, bigger-than-life villain like Doom into a sleazy asshole CEO or a neckbeard hacker to make him more "relatable" is absolutely beyond me. I'm all for adding relevance and non-escapist elements to superhero films, but mere topicality does not a memorable villain make.
posted by Strange Interlude at 3:21 PM on August 8, 2015 [7 favorites]

I guess Michael B. Jordan must be trying to swallow his tongue right about now.
posted by fuse theorem at 4:35 PM on August 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Does he have Bedelia DuMaurier for a therapist too?
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:05 PM on August 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Now I've seen it, and it is as bad as everyone is saying it is.

The only way to redeem this movie would be for Fox to enter into an agreement to have Marvel Studios use the characters. Then the Fantastic Four could appear -- very sparingly, perhaps just in one scene -- in the MCU. There'd have to be one scene where someone says "You are the Fantastic Four like in that film?" and Ben Grimm goes "I ain't never took off my pants in public like that!" while chomping on a cigar. And that's it. You've just turned this movie into an in-universe parody of the Fantastic Four origin -- which is what it feels like -- and and had the very characters themselves disown it.

I honestly feel that all the press that the main cast has been doing for this stinker is part of what is pissing the fans off. It is that bad, and all the hype makes it worse. How could they not see that the reworked Chronicle 2 script was wrong? How could they get Doctor Doom so incredibly wrong? And the rest of them are just wrong in their characterizations, too.

Just one scene to let fans know you've made an in universe parody of their story, that's the only way to swallow this turd.
posted by Catblack at 9:57 AM on August 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

How could they not see that the reworked Chronicle 2 script was wrong?

I recall reading a recent interview where the cast said they haven't seen it yet. This was about a week ago, which was seemed like a telling sign.

Plus, it's career suicide if they say "Yeah, this kinda sucks. Don't go see it." You signed contracts, you're expected to shill.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:03 AM on August 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

A day later, and the thing I find most maddening is that the whole thing could have been about 300% better -- not perfect, but not so God-awful -- if somebody competent had just made one pass at the script.

I'm not talking "overhaul everything," just a week-before-shooting redraft by somebody with a passing familiarity with the comic and its canon, and, y'know, dramatic structure and plot and so on.


Early innings, Reed and Ben bond over video games (which Reed has hacked) as well as whatever else. Ben is clearly better than Reed.

Cut out half of the science fair gaffle and Johnny drag racing and about 20% of the dialogue to make more room in the second act.

We're stuck with Surly Doom, but when Dr. Storm visits him he refuses to return, ranting about his genius and prestige and none there can be graced with the presence of Doom. No more Cuddly Doom Fun Friend in the lab.

Move forward to the Monkey Test, which fails -- turns out negotiating the wormhole between dimensions requires incredibly steady hands and fast reflexes. Reed calls Ben in based on Ben's insane prowess as a virtual "pilot". So Ben has at least some sort of sane reason to be there.

Second Monkey Test succeeds. Tim Gum Nelson thanks everyone and then announces that he'll be handing it over to a private enterprise for resource extraction. Everyone is furious, Dr. Storm threatens to walk, there's no way you can make this work without me, etc. But Tim Gum Nelson has hired an external consultant who will be the new sole project head. Enter Doom, preening and arrogant, the only one worthy of being the first human boots on the planet that will save the Earth, etc. etc.

The Four, without booze, and led by Johnny and Ben being hot-headed, decide this Will Not Stand and at the very least they should be first; so they break in, commandeer the extradimensional vehicle, Ben has to pilot it from the inside, obvs, and things proceed much the same, but with Sue instead of Victor on the Other Side.

Victor, spying on the lab with robot drones or whatever, finds out what's going on and races over there in a fury.

When the craft returns, the Four are superpowered, Victor is caught in the energy wave from the other dimension, his face gets scarred, and in the chaos he sabotages the project, steals all the data, and flees.

We spend more time with the Four, first freaking out and blaming each other and lots more time with Reed and Ben and Reed's guilt. Much of the same army stuff. Replacing Reed in the Man On The Run role is Doom, who is circling the globe buying and stealing parts and crap. Sue is brought in for the same pattern recognition gaffle, but realizes this time, with Reed, that Doom is building his own incredibly unsafe bridge and might just Black Hole the world.

An initial foray of the Four vs. Doom, who has been using super-science to build super-science stuff that lets him defeat the Four handily. He is no longer Magic Mind Man. The Four still manage to smash most of his interdimensional bridge crap.

The final act rolls out more or less as it did, with Doom storming the base to use THEIR extradimensional craft, the Four -- defeated once by him already -- following him over to the other side, Doom trying to steal enough of Earth's energy to come back and conquer it, big fight, etc. More of Reed and Sue actually out-thinking Doom to pull together and defeat him.

Key differences:
- Ben has a reason to be there
- Doom gets to be, well, Doom, or at least Doom-ish
- Doom gets the whole "it's Reed's fault!" element to his scarring and subsequent villainy
- Sue has some sort of agency in the whole event
- Doom has a plan instead of just being a weird extradimensional super-baby
- Reed doesn't run away and spend a year doing... something? with bangles? On his arms?

I've already spent many more minutes on this than it deserves, but the central point is it didn't have to be such a total disaster. The above would have cost zero more dollars, used the same cast, used the same volume of special effects, and used the same basic plot structure for the movie.

I never do this. I never do the "I could have written this movie better" thing. But this one time it would have been such an easy fix to bring the movie at least 50% into alignment with the heart of the original and the spirit of the characters that it has literally been making me a little crazy for the past 24 hours.
posted by Shepherd at 12:26 PM on August 9, 2015 [12 favorites]

I love how, until we get to the black hole laser light show eating the earth bit, the biggest sign of Doom's villainy is... that he insists on calling Sue "Susan."

Also, where did he get his hooded cape? When they return to Planet Greenscreen and he sulkily swirls his hooded cape back on was one of the biggest laugh moments in the crowd I saw it with.
posted by TwoStride at 1:43 PM on August 9, 2015

Someone on TV Tropes theorized that Doom's cape is the blackened remnants of the American flag planted on the planet, which would be hilarious.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:49 PM on August 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

Doom's cape is the blackened remnants of the American flag planted on the planet, which would be hilarious.

We thought that too! But given that this movie had NOTHING subtle about it, we were sure they would have shown a closeup of some sad, burned stars and a stripe if that were the case.
posted by TwoStride at 2:53 PM on August 9, 2015

If the characters weren't named Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny, would this be an OK movie? Or does it not even work on that level?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 2:58 PM on August 9, 2015

If the characters weren't named Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny

No, because then you'd have even less understanding of why any of these people spend any time with each other. And less understanding of the function/extent of their powers, given that the movie spends like 5 minutes on that.
posted by TwoStride at 3:10 PM on August 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

It would be forgettably generic instead of actively infuriating.
posted by nicebookrack at 3:23 PM on August 9, 2015

Saw it, and yeah, it sure is buh-buh-buh-buh-bad, bad to the bone, and not remotely in the cool way. Trank-or-whoever's-really-responsible seems to have half-remembered better movies, and stolen bits from them, but without realizing what made them good; thus, we get a beginning that could have been set in the 1950s, or taken from Explorers, but without a really good reason for Ben Grimm to be there (in fact, there's no really good reason for Grimm to have been involved at all; even if you buy that the two would have become unlikely friends as kids, Grimm's response to getting the call from Richards before the disaster should have been, "Go home, Reed, you're drunk.") Ben's not a pilot, he doesn't seem to be much of anything except a laborer at his dad's junkyard. And the science fair scene? Real Genius called, they wanted to remind you that the scene worked thirty years ago because there hadn't been that big of a push yet to get kids into STEM education, and that in 2007, Reed Richards would have been grabbed up by NYC science magnet schools (Stuyvesant?) and fast-tracked into MIT.

The take-your-time-peeing-or-getting-popcorn comments remind me of something that Stephen King said in Danse Macabre about a movie, can't remember which one; he said that it was the kind of movie where you wish, halfway through the first reel, that you had a cigarette. I don't smoke, and I know exactly what he meant. Instead, I checked Wikipedia to verify that it was indeed Tim Blake Nelson as the government-guy-who-thinks-he's-in-control-of-the-whole-situation-and-ends-up-getting-wasted-in-a-creative-way-by-Doom (that is, Andre Braugher's role in the last FF movie), and wondered if his participation in this might affect in any way his possible participation as the Leader in a potential Hulk movie. I normally wouldn't bring up my phone during a movie--the glare is distracting to the other patrons--but nobody in the sparsely populated theater seemed to mind; likely, they were thinking about taking a whiz or getting some popcorn or how they could have seen Ant-Man (a much better movie, even though it had its own troubled development rumors; even with all its flaws, it wasn't nearly as excruciating as this one).

Shepherd's idea for how the movie could have been fixed is good, although I doubt that we'll see another attempt at the FF for at least another decade. I'm still mildly curious to see if we'll ever get a glimpse at Trank's original cut, just to see if it's the failed-but-noble attempt that this movie doesn't even come close to being.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:44 PM on August 9, 2015

Why did they need space suits when they first visited Planet Zero but not later when they fought Doom?
posted by Catblack at 4:45 PM on August 10, 2015

Who they hell thought interdimensial travel would be a good idea. Everyone loves space and spaceships, why cut them out?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:01 PM on August 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Why did they need space suits when they first visited Planet Zero but not later when they fought Doom?

The first time the green goo had not given them Powers.
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:43 PM on August 10, 2015

The reversion of Reed's invention to fifth grade and the science fair thing was really kind of insulting and stupid. Does that fly with anybody over the age of 8 any more?
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:45 PM on August 10, 2015

Why doesn't Hollywood just suck it up and make the most star-studded, effects-laden version of "The Little Train That Could" (which is, come on, the ur-plot of all this crap) that anyone could possibly imagine, and then get back to filming overwrought Tennessee Williams plays and dreadful John O'Hara novels the way God intended?
posted by Chitownfats at 3:20 PM on August 12, 2015

The link doesn't go anywhere.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:07 PM on August 12, 2015

Perhaps the broken link is the commentary on the future of the comic-book movie.

Or, to be less zen, here is the correct link.
posted by nubs at 5:37 PM on August 12, 2015

Here's the problem with comic book movies: Movies aren't comic books, and the translation is very source material dependent. The original Christopher Reeve Superman movies worked because they projected that pre-WWII humanist optimism which has always permeated the strip. The Batman movies mostly worked as grimdark because Batman was always a grimdark comic despite the campy 1960's TV series. The first Spiderman movie worked because it was true to the spirit of the comic, with Peter Parker finding equal parts joy and horror in his situation. The MCU works because Marvel Studios just fucking gets it. Tree and a racoon? Hero the size of an ant? They made that shit work, they can make anything work. But they make it look deceptively easy.

But Man of Steel tried to make Superman grimdark. Fail. Green Lantern just couldn't quite make the backstory work in movie terms. The Spiderman reboot totally did not get the Peter Parker experience. This F4 made exactly the same grimdark mistake Man of Steel did.

There seems to be a mindset in Hollywood that you have a big leg up on success if you option a comic book story but it only really works if you understand the comic and have a plan for translating its look, feel, and emotional energy to film. Just throwing a bunch of A-list people and money at it isn't enough. And when you are spending $120 million to make a movie, it's kind of hard to make that nerdy comic book vision dominate.

Unless you're Marvel Studios.
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:22 PM on August 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

The biggest problem is that there's only one Marvel Studios, i.e. gets it for the most part. At this point, based on their past success, they could announce a movie pretty much anything and most people would check it out, because its Marvel.

But soon Warner Bros. will be pumping out DC stuff and Fox will do something and they have a shaky past with the genre. If too much crap starts flooding the genre, it'll just pull everyone down.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:49 PM on August 12, 2015

Couldn't resist, went to see it.

Yeah, it's bad. And stunninglydull. There's grim horror movie with a message about humanity's destruction of the Earth lying in it somewhere, but the movie takes care to leach any interest out of its characters and plot. Which is a shame, because there's a lot of acting talent in the room and you almost feel them wanting to do something great. But it never gells and the awful plot intrudes

The biggest problem, IMO, is that the movie spends too much time trying to explain and rationalize the "science," at least in the beginning. After the group gets their powers, it's just all magic handwaving, unexplained motivations, time jumps and a really bad wig.

Several people responsible for this film should be taken out back and beaten with a Storytelling 098 stick.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:03 AM on August 16, 2015

You know things are bad when we're talking about "lost" or deleted scenes in movies that are still in the theatres. This is a very special level of screw-up we're seeing here.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 9:40 AM on August 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well, it's made 102M, probably cost about 190M including advertising, so it's not that bad. But still, pretty bad.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:00 AM on August 18, 2015

Here's what an earlier script looked like. Lots more action, especially for Sue.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:52 PM on August 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, where did he get his hooded cape? When they return to Planet Greenscreen and he sulkily swirls his hooded cape back on was one of the biggest laugh moments in the crowd I saw it with.

It also caused a chuckle in the crowd in the theatre I saw it in. Well, only me, but that was the entirety of the audience.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:04 PM on September 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well, it's taken me this long, but I've finally seen this. Caught it on TV in a F4 marathon. And it's... not as bad as I was expecting.

I thought the Ultimate F4 route was an interesting choice. It'd be hard to suspend disbelief today about a cosmic ray space flight, so teleporting is cool with me. You still have the problem of explaining why you couldn't just send everyone through the same process and give everyone nifty powers, but oh well. So having a younger Reed and company was fine with me.

I kept expecting it to be horrible, but it wasn't. Yes, it was bad, but not as bad as its reputation. The characters weren't very engaging, but they were mostly recognizable. The dialogue for the first two thirds was reasonable before becoming stilted during the climactic battle. The effects for their powers were nice. It was potentially going somewhere good.

But yes, there are problems. One, the length of time it took them to get powers. It felt like Trank was doing a nine hour movie, not a ninety minute one. There was just a lot of... stuff occupying time. Two different scenes of teachers not recognizing Reed's potential? Bloat.

I would have opened with the Baxter group, testing their expensive prototype interdimensional viewer, with Victor as the brilliant project lead. They open up a window into this alternate dimension to learn the secrets of the universe... and see a small collection of toy cars, stuffed animals, and other junk. Cut to young Ben, finding new things for Reed to "blast" with his teleporter in his garage. When the authorities break in, Ben immediately guards Reed. Two minutes, tops, and you've got Doom resentful of Reed and Ben as Reed's protector.

Second, Doom. No explanation for his powers. The four elements are obvious, but what exactly could Doom do? It just seemed to be magic. Reed stretches, Ben's a titan of rocks, Sue alters visible spectrum and (handwavium) force fields, and Johnny can fly and throw fireballs. Doom can... do whatever the script needs, I guess? Because he's metal? I didn't care for the McMahon electric Doom either, but at least it made a little sense. No explanation for his motivations, either. Not before the accident and certainly not after. If he wanted to be alone, why did he seek out the rescue group, and why bother destroying Earth? Doom wants worship, not solitude. And no way he gets destroyed that quick.

Third, Ben. Yeah, the lack of pants was dumb. Even if there were no reason for it, Ben's humanity would have wanted pants as some display that he still belonged. But far worse was being a stooge of the military and wantonly killing people without remorse. He didn't have to go along with anything immoral.

Fourth, Reed. No way he's in hiding all that time. Just no reason for it. You can't really build a family unit when the ostensible father abandons everyone.

Ah, I could go on. There were problems, and it certainly wasn't the F4 I know, but it wasn't an utter travesty. Squandered potential and some bad choices, sure. I would have liked to have seen the sequel.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:27 PM on August 11, 2017

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