Fantastic Four: flimsy, forced and fowl (spoilers)

So that happened. “The Fantastic Four”, the third attempt to jumpstart a movie franchise around the popular Marvel comic series of the same name. The story follows Richard Reed as he and his friends Sue Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm attempt inter-dimensional travel. When the group makes a hasty, unsupervised maiden voyage along with their colleague Victor von Doom, it leaves them all with strange new superpowers and the full attention of the government.

This film- actually, you know what? I can’t even call it that. This Thing (joke intended) was one hour and forty-five minutes of dull, useless exposition that could have all been condensed into twenty solid minutes before a real story started. Nothing ever really happened, it felt like a long drumroll of pointless, poorly crafted backstory and build-up that never paid off. There wasn’t even rising action, let alone a climax to the story, not really. A superhero movie, especially one with as weighty a moniker as “fantastic”, should never be this boring. At least then I could forgive the plotholes, to an extent.

We spent entirely too long watching Reed and Ben as kids (which was admittedly cute), and then following Reed to college (so Sue and Dr. Storm just so happened to be at that specific high school science fair in time to see the exact project which could help fix all of the Baxter Foundation’s problems?), and the character development didn’t even pay off to make up for all of that wasted time. The characters all more or less still felt two dimensional and uninteresting by the halfway mark, and it didn’t get much better by the end.

The story made a huge deal out of Ben being angry with Reed for leaving, and then it’s never addressed again and now everything is cool because they fought as a team and forgot their differences for five seconds? That quick non-battle smoothed over an entire year’s worth of trauma, resentment and abandonment issues? Okay? Dr. Doom made everyone else’s heads explode to kill them on sight, but left Dr. Storm in good enough shape for some cheesy last words before dying dramatically in his children’s arms? Sure? And then he left Reed and friends -the only individuals on the planet who could potentially challenge him- behind unattended and unscathed after killing their mentor, explaining his evil plan and leaving them a way to follow him? Um?!

The acting wasn’t the issue, Miles Teller (Richard Reed) is a great actor, and the rest of the main cast was solid enough. They did what they could with the eyeroll-worthy dialogue, thoughtless plot and complete lack of direction, but it wasn’t nearly enough. The special effects and use of green screens were just embarrassing. I’ve seen better special effects in “Sharkboy and Lavagirl”. Reed’s face-morphing scene alone looked like something out of the late ‘90s, not what you would expect from a big budget 2015 Marvel movie.

Oh my goodness, do not even get me started on the trainwreck that was Dr. Doom’s character design. What even was that? Hit suit that supposedly fused to his body wasn’t even metal, it was spandex, wires and glass. Don’t you dare tell me that Dr. Doom fashioned his random bad guy cloak from the American flag either. Color and pattern differences aside, and let’s pretend for argument’s sake I can accept that small flag was big enough to make a flowing, ominous cloak, but I draw the line at believing he prioritized a poorly crafted home ec project in that 4th dimensional wasteland in lieu of returning home.

“Fantastic Four” was unbelievably awful, a major step back for all of Marvel’s progress in their movie franchises. I mean statistically, they were bound to produce a bad movie sooner rather than later, but who could have guessed that Marvel could fail this hard? The plot, characterizations, special effects -nothing worked, it was just a cringe-worthy experience start to finish. This Thing’s only possible redeeming feature was the unintentionally funny bits of dialogue here and there. If you’re into atrocious movies you can make fun of for the next year with friends, have at it, you’ll have a fantastic time.

Verdict: 1/5 stars