Fantastic Four: A Cautionary Tale for Film Students to Learn Your Craft or You’ll Drop a Turd Like This [Review]

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Despite some very solid advice — this week I went to see Fantastic Four.  And I got what I deserved.   Fair warning, unlike my other reviews, I’m going to spoil this one as much as I can because I’d rather you lose interest than have to sit through it.

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.

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I don’t understand why Fantastic Four needed a reboot.  There was nothing wrong with the 2005 movie – I mean Chris Evans was in it, shirtless at one point.   How did they think they were going to top that?  I also don’t understand, in this new reboot of an only marginally successful movie, why they thought we needed to see another origin story.  There’s been a glut of superhero stories and watching this movie makes me realize that we’ve reached a saturation point.

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This movie played with all the passion of running through a checklist.  Stock science geek recruited by mysterious government agency- check.  Sudden accident resulting in exposure to an unknown substance – check.  Military brass there to utilize superpowers for warfare – check.  And so on.  These tropes are so common that this movie didn’t bother to explain them at all.  Of course they’re going to go to dimension x.  Of course they’re going to touch the goop.  No effort was made to give the characters motivations because it was obvious what had to happen for the movie to progress.  Again – if it was so obvious, why make the movie?

The characters were wooden to the point of being painful.  I couldn’t tell if this was the acting or writing.  Certainly the actors had nothing to work with.   Every line that every character uttered meant exactly what the words mean when placed in that order.  That is, you could have had a a computer read the lines instead of the actors and nothing would have been lost.  With one exception – Reg E Cathey was amazing.  His voice and presence brought desperately needed life to every scene he was in.

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I kept waiting for this movie to hit its stride.  After all, some are slow starters and what with this being an origin story and all, there was a lot to slog through before the action could start.  A lot.  It did eventually snap into gear during the mid-point set piece, which was conveniently located 15 minutes before the end credits rolled.  This left time for one fight sequence that felt so rushed it was, for lack of a better word, lame.   I have never seen such bad pacing in a movie.

This movie is a cautionary tale for aspiring film-makers.  Learn your craft or you will drop a turd like this.  You must have both text and subtext in your dialogue.  You must have convincing motivations for your characters and show it on screen.  You must have a clear, external goal for your characters to achieve and that must be defined and presented at about a quarter of the way through and you must have an exciting scene that changes that goal at exactly half way through.   You must know your genre – since this is a superhero movie, you should show your heroes battling villains and generally doing superhero stuff.  This movie did none of these things.  I would have gotten more entertainment out of a second sitting of Pixels than sitting through this.

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