The horror! The horror!
I so wanted everyone in the world to be wrong and Josh Trank's Fantastic Four to turn out to be a misunderstood masterpiece.
But it's not. It's the worst kind of self-loathing obscenity that snark can create, a superhero comic book movie that hates superhero comic book movies.
It bends over backwards to crap all over the popular modern-day Marvel movie conventions, but can't come up with anything clever of its own, instead throwing a shitstorm of cheesiness and cliché at the wall to see what sticks.
From a very early age, the Fantastic Four has been the definition of superhero excellence to me, being the first comic I remember reading (a British reprint of Fantastic Four #17), but this abomination of a movie disregards the familial unity that makes the true FF so special, replacing them with miserable, disagreeable, navel-gazing, teenagers.
Their miserableness has clearly affected the world they live in as everything is dull and dark. It almost makes Man Of Steel look upbeat in comparison. Never has visiting a parallel dimension been quite so dismal and underwhelming for those involved.
We're given no reason to care about any of the characters or anything they do, because they clearly don't.
It's pretty obvious that the actors quickly realised they were contractually saddled with a turkey and, for the most part, are just phoning in their performances. I can't imagine any of them will be proudly listing Fantastic Four on their resumés.
The film opts to go the Ultimate Comics route of having the characters gain their abilities through a dimension-traveling experiment, rather than a voyage into space, but the resemblance to any source material pretty much ends there.
The characters - Reed Richards (Miles Teller), Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), Sue Storm (Kate Mara), and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) - are never called by their traditional superhero sobriquets, nor is the group referred to as the Fantastic Four (get ready to groan at the 'oh, so clever' closing gag, though).
As well as completely failing to embrace the positive goofiness of the costume-clad superhero genre, this film doesn't just ignore 99 per cent of its FF's legacy, but goes out of its way to heavy-handedly subvert it.
Even if you aren't au fait with the source material, the narrative makes little sense as the internal logic of the film (much like Doom's ill-defined suite of superpowers) chops and changes to the whim of the filmmakers.
As its erratic, and random, story rattles along, alterations are made to the characters for no readily apparent reason:
- Why did Sue need to be an adopted child from Kosovo, for instance?
- And why couldn't she have gone on the interdimensional trip with the boys, instead of being zapped as fallout from their return journey?
- Why did the crucial inciting incident that gave the characters their powers have to be the result of a drunken dare?
- Why is no-one in the slightest bit upset that Victor got killed?
- Why is Ben Grimm turned into a killing machine for the army?
- What purpose is served by having Reed run away for the year, only to return as though nothing has happened?
- etc etc
As a long-time (nearly 40 year) fan of Marvel's First Family, this abomination pisses me off so much, but I guess I was asking for it. If I wasn't such a rabid collector and hoarder of superhero movies I probably wouldn't even have picked Fantastic Four up when it came out on Blu-Ray yesterday.
But I've taken this bullet, so you don't have to. Unless, like me, you have a medical condition that compels you to buy films that you know are going to awful (even though you hope for the best, despite the avalanche of opposing opinion), don't go near this film.
Treat it like a lump of radioactive dog turd and back away carefully, making sure none gets on you accidentally.
But if it does, have a shower as soon as possible and keep scrubbing until every trace of this muck has been purged from your body.