"This is the end of your world, and the beginning of mine."
Some people accuse the Marvel Cinematic Universe of just following a basic formula and not deserving their huge financial success. Some curse them for initiating this tidal wave of superhero films that are about to hit us, and criticise how the genre is relatively easy to turn bangs into bucks. However I would point to a film like ‘Fant4stic’ (they called it that, the promotional material says so)and argue that actually, Marvel are very good at this, as what we have here is a prime example of how not to do a superhero movie the right way.
Having been employed by the government to conduct research and experiments towards interdimensional travel, Reed Richards (Miles Teller) puts his friends lives at risk when one experiment goes horribly wrong, transforming them into super powered beings.
This film has been met with backlash right from day one. Whether it be fans pointing out how this version exists primarily so Fox have a reason not to hand the rights back to Marvel, on set turbulence and the reported recklessness of Josh Trank as a director, not to mention the fact that he was signed up to direct an upcoming ‘Star Wars’ film for Disney, but mysteriously dropped out for unknown reasons (all we do know is that it was most definitely not a graceful shaking of hands and parting of ways as Trank engaged the world’s largest film studio in a one man Twitter war, bragging about how Fox were desperate for him to direct another Fantastic Four film and he was not sorry to leave the ‘Star Wars’ project).
But putting all of that aside, what does ‘Fant4stic’ have going for it? Well to its credit there is a good balance of emphasising both teamwork and the personal tribulations such a transformation might do to someone (instead of madly glossing over it like the previous films did) and shines a light on some of the character’s history and interaction before the accident. The cast is also pretty solid and the end result is certainly a different take and incarnation of a superhero team. So those are a few things on the positive spectrum.
That being said, on the negative spectrum, there is the slight issue. The issue is that this movie is just awful in literally ever way other than the few things that I mentioned there. Like I said there are good things but these plus points pale into significance when compared to the massive structural and tonal issues that are frequently on display.
It opens with this weird ‘Goonies’ like sequence, then shifts to a lighhearted science project before delving into sudden and rather unpleasant body-horror-esque sequences and there are about a dozen other changes that are all fairly boring and uneventful all before it delves into what has to be the most rushed hero section (the point in any superhero movie where the hero accepts who they are and set out to vanquish evil) of any superhero film I have ever seen. Dr Doom is laughably in its look and mind set, as well as being ridiculously underused.
Like last years ‘Amazing Spider-Man 2’, ‘Fant4stic’ is all exposition, building towards a film that has not yet happened, trying to set up this cinematic franchise that will probably never happen now. For the last time studios, focus on the movie you’re making right now instead of one that’s three years away. Though the CGI is mostly competent there are moments where it just looks horrendous, like 1990s cheap CGI bad. Even when it’s good there’s no point that I actually believed it was real, I was constantly aware that I was watching CGI.
‘Fant4stic’ is not even bad in a hilarious way as the dark tone just makes it feel, above all else, depressing. A structurally unstable, tonally uneven, sleep inducing, rushed and depressing film.