Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Fantastic Four [2015] (2 Stars)

For more than 40 years every cover of Marvel's Fantastic Four comic bore the inscription "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine". If a film is made about these iconic heroes it deserves to be called "The World's Greatest Film". But it isn't. Far from it. This reboot doesn't even live up to the rather dull 2005 film.

I went into the cinema today with the conscious intention to enjoy the film. I had heard a lot of bad things about it, but I've been a Fantastic Four fan for 50 years, so I wanted to like it, I really did. I didn't expect it to be too accurate to the original 1960's comics, because it's based on the "Ultimate Fantastic Four", a third-rate Fantastic Four clone published in the 2000's when Marvel had run out of new ideas.

I did enjoy the opening scenes. It was fun to see Reed Richards as a brilliant eccentric child and his mismatched friendship with the less bright kid Ben Grimm. I groaned when I saw that Susan and Johnnie Storm were only siblings by adoption, but I bit my tongue. Everything was good in the film until the four characters became the Fantastic Four. Then it fell apart.

So what's wrong with the film?  Almost everything. It's so bad that Stan Lee refused to do a cameo. Let me try to list a few of the mistakes. The list certainly won't be complete, so feel free to add your thoughts in my comments section.

The film's biggest blunder is to cast Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm. As soon as I heard he had been cast I feared the film was heading for a disaster. I know that it's customary for Marvel films to make at least one white character black for racist reasons, but this time they picked the wrong one. It was acceptable to make Alicia Masters black in the 2005 film because she was a minor character. But casting a black man as blond-haired blue-eyed Johnny Storm is utter stupidity. No amount of apologetics can deny the fact that Michael B. Jordan is the single biggest reason that the film flopped.

Miles Teller is too young to play the grey-haired scientist Reed Richards. Okay, in the Ultimate Fantastic Four he was young, but that's no excuse.

Jamie Bell is too scrawny to play Ben Grimm. Even before he became the Thing he was a tough guy. In the comics he was an ex-wrestler.

Kate Mara looks quite good as Susan Storm, but in the film she's too intelligent. In the comics she was a ditzy blonde, only interested in fashion and shopping. It's wrong for the film to show her as a scientist.

I don't know where to begin with Doctor Doom, played by Toby Kebbell. The character in the film isn't Doctor Doom. There's only a vague physical resemblance when he pulls a hood over his head. The film shows him as a fellow scientist who worked with Reed Richards and travelled with him to the other dimension, gaining super powers and becoming disfigured at the same time. Wrong, wrong, wrong! In the comics Victor Von Doom never worked with Reed Richards because he considered Reed to be inferior. His disfigurement came from an explosion when an experiment failed in which he was attempting to combine science and magic to bring his mother back from the dead. And Doctor Doom always wanted to rule the world, not destroy it.

The film's final battle between the four heroes (who hadn't yet decided on a group name) and Doctor Doom (who only called himself Doom) didn't grip me. Pyrotechnics and people flying around. Boring. In the Avengers and X-Men films the group fights are a lot better. Josh Trank lacks the experience to direct a film of this magnitude.

To sum up, this is one of the worst Marvel films so far, even worse than the second Ghost Rider film (which I generously gave 3 stars but don't remember why).

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