Fantastically Full of Clichés

All of the spoilers for Fantastic Four so don’t read on if you haven’t seen it yet, but I highly suggest you don’t see it and read my review anyways.

Movie: Fantastic Four

Release Date: August 7, 2015

Director: Josh Trank (Sorta)

Writers: Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater, and Josh Trank

Stars: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson

I spent the run time of the movie wishing Mike, Tom Servo, and Crow T. Robot was sitting in the front row and commentating through the whole thing.  That would have made the movie so much better.  I read several of the reviews from some of my other blogger colleagues (after the embargo ended of course) and they didn’t have good things to say about Fantastic Four for the most part.  So I went to the early morning showing (only cost me $6.50, woohoo!) with low expectations.  I feel like I should have gone in with even lower expectations.  The movie hit on most every comic book movie cliché out there like:

  1. Grownups do not understand and dismiss the obviously genius child

Okay back in the early days before any real intelligence testing, this would have flown, but the start of the movie is supposed to take place in the early 2000s where the super smart kids are bumped up grades, not told they are dumb by teachers.  When young Reed Richards gives a presentation in class about how he is going to be the first person to teleport and that he has been working on the machine to do it, the teacher tells him that he needs to do the report again, but he needs to pick an occupation a real person in the real world does.  Because we all know that being a scientist is not a real job in the real world, that is just silly sci-fi stuff.  The teacher berates Reed for wanting to be a scientist, but not the kid who wanted to be Eli Manning?  Seriously, the other report we get to hear is about how the kid wants to be Eli Manning.  Nothing against Eli, but really, that is the Manning brother you want to be?  Peyton is obviously the superior quarterback of the Manning brothers.  Granted Eli has the two rings, but that is because he was surrounded by a good team (and Tom Brady fucked up a few too many times during those games).  Pats fans can bitch in the comments all they want, but we all know that is why the Giants twice beat the Patriots.

  1. Two of the main characters are friends because of reasons

Ben Grimm and Reed become friends as kids when Ben helps to get Reed a power converter for his rudimentary teleportation machine.  When we flash forward seven years to the “teenage” version of Ben (Bell) and Reed (Teller) they are still the best of friends and we really don’t understand why.  Mostly this is because all we know about Ben’s character is he is poor and lives in a junkyard.  We never get to see what makes these two characters bond to one another and so we have no idea why these guys remained friends for so many years.

  1. Evil corporate guy is evil

Tim Blake Nelson has the unfortunate role of the evil corporate guy and he does this obnoxious gum chewing thing in all of his scenes.  What is crazy is the only reason why he is evil is because he has the audacity to want to see profits from his investments.  What an asshole!  How dare he invest bazillions of dollars into a machine that will revolutionize the world and demand to make at least that amount of money back?  Also there is the added cliché of he always wants to hand over anything that is made to the military because making weapons is so much more fun and profitable.

  1. Villain and heroes were all friends before they became enemies

Victor Von Doom (played by Kebbell, and how do you not become a super villain with that name) is a super genius like Reed and so they enjoy nerding out together, he is in love with Sue Storm (Mara), and is besties with Johnny Storm (Jordan) who shares his discontent for the Dr. Franklin Storm (Cathey).  The only outlier is Ben, but that is because we still don’t understand his place in all of this other than the story requires he be a part of the group.

  1. General character traits

Reed is a super genius and wants to use his powers of smartness for good.  Sue is a smart, cool girl because she listens to Portishead, and I think she is crushing on Reed, but I can’t be sure.  She looks at him all thirsty like and they look like they have a scene where they flirt, but it is fleeting moment.  Johnny is a hot head (because that is the obvious pun to be had there), loves to race his car, and can build anything.  He is only helping out because his daddy took his car away and won’t let him have it back until he finishes his homework.  We already covered Ben.  Victor hates all things corporate, thinks astronauts are idiots, and is so obviously a bad dude in the making it is hard for me to see why anyone would want to work with him no matter how smart he is.  Corporate guy is corporate like.  Main parental figure is over fatherly to our main group and is all about taking care of family.  That is all the character development we get.  They are all so one dimensional they are practically paper cut outs of human beings.  This is not the faults of the actors, they did the best they could with what very, very little they were given.

Quick aside about the whole Von Doom hating on astronauts – After the teleport machine is built, a horribly looking CGI monkey is sent to the other dimension and is brought back in one CGI piece.  On to the human trials because that one CGI monkey is good!  But wait!  The evil corporate guys have the nerve to want to send NASA trained astronauts into another dimension instead of the scientists with no training whatsoever.  Such a horribly unreasonable request!  Of course the group gets super mad at that request.  The astronauts have no science training (according to Hollywood), what good would they be in another dimension.  They could ruin everything with their cowboy astronaut ways.  Was Buzz Aldrin a super smart scientist with dreams to go out into space? NO!  That is the actual argument Doom actually uses and it made me need to put up this rant – he was a test pilot with a dream of going into space who also had a degree in mechanical engineering and worked on the equipment that sent him into space.  But he wasn’t the super smart scientist that invented the rocket so how dare he take that dream away from those hard working scientists.  The whole scene had me wishing there was a wall nearby for me to bang my head on.  I don’t expect the screenwriters for a comic book movie to be really smart, but all they needed to do was a quick Wikipedia search on the first astronauts in the space program to find out that they all made huge contributions to the program and actually needed advance science degrees just to be considered for the program in the first place.  Sorry, rant over, or at least this particular rant is over.

Why are these Scientists so dumb?

Why are these Scientists so dumb?

  1. Villain touches or messes with unknown stuff because it is cool and new causing the event that gives everyone their powers

After the drunken raging over audacity of the corporate guys wanting to do the responsible thing with testing the machine, Reed, Von Doom, and Johnny (drunkenly) decide they are going into the machine.  Reed calls Ben because of reasons and they all go to the other dimension.  They see glowy green stuff there and Von Doom sticks his hand in it because it is glowy and green, and then we get mayhem.  Von Doom gets sucked into the mayhem and the other three escape with the help of Sue who is still on the other side.  They boys get powers because of the exposure to the glowy green stuff and Sue gets powers from the force field blast of the coming back.  I bet the astronauts would have been smart enough not to just stick their hands into some glowy green stuff cause it is cool looking.

  1. Daddy issues

Johnny doesn’t like his dad because he wants him to use his smarts for something other than racing cars.  Sue, despite being adopted, gets along with Dr. Storm great which is kinda different.  It is strange that we never really see a sibling relationship with Johnny and Sue.  It is like they forgot to add that in there.

  1. Parent/Parental Figure/Guarding is killed in front of the heroes

Come on, we all knew Dr. Storm was doomed (pun intended) from the start right?  Of course when Von Doom comes back and goes nutso, he is going to kill Dr. Storm.  He even pegged the dying words cliché, so bonus points.

  1. Non-hero gives heroes speeches about saving the world and togetherness

Dr. Storm is guilty there again.  The movie even tries to be meta about it in the beginning, but it just comes off as them trying too hard.

  1. Building sciency stuff/Learning new powers montage

Unfortunately the montage of building the teleportation machine takes up waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much of the movie’s run time.  The learning new powers montage just takes up a few minutes and that kinda sucks because I think that was one of the areas where the movie looks great and is truly interesting.

  1. Villain wants to destroy the world and monologues about it

Doom suffered from the same syndrome pretty much all of the villains in the MCU movies suffer from.  They are evil because the story requires them to be.  The bad guys usually start off kinda unhinged, but then they go full tilt I’m-going-to-destroy-everything crazy pretty quick.  When other people inevitably go to the new dimension to gain powers of their very own, Doom is found and brought back for testing.  He monologues about how people like the corporate guy has destroyed the Earth and now they are going to destroy his other Earth and he needs to destroy blah, blah, blah… sorry, I checked out by that point and missed what he said exactly.  But he just starts to kill everyone and then uses the machine to suck our Earth into the new Earth and make it go buh-bye.

  1. Villain has cool powers to kill people with, but does not use them on the heroes even though it would kill them and villain would win the fight

Doom comes back with powers that can make peoples face explode (no joke) and it looks cool.  But in the big fight (that only lasts about three or four minutes of the movie’s run time), he does not make the four heroes faces explode.  He throws rocks at them (again, no joke).

  1. Heroes give a big speech about are stronger together than they are apart

After fighting Doom individually and failing, they form a plan, work together and defeat the bad guy.   Reed actually uses the words “stronger together than apart.”

  1. The characters try to “organically” come up with their group name

So after our heroes save the day they get to go to the Avengers facility Central City facility to be free to do all the sciency stuff they want.  They look around and talk about what to call themselves.  A couple of names are thrown out for laughs, and then Ben says something about everything is just fantastic.  Reed then looks at him like he has never heard the word fantastic before and just as they are about to say “Assemble” the Fantastic Four, we mercifully cut to credits.

Trank's career after Fantastic Four

Trank’s career after Fantastic Four

The movie was completely unimaginative and boring, but what really gets me is there are some possibilities there for it to be an interesting sci-fi movie.  Trank recently tweeted (it has since been deleted) that he filmed a much better movie that we will never see.  It is believable because Trank was fired half-way thru filming, there were several reshoots done that went thru April, and the entire cast looks completely unenthused about promoting it.  Also Fox has been known to tank its own movies out of fear that if things get too interesting in the movie, no one will want to see it.  They are just now making up the mistakes they made with X-Men and the character of Deadpool.

What did you think of Fantastic Four?  Did you go and see it or are you just reading the snarky reviews for fun?  Let me know in the comments section.

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About Nerdling

The Nerdling has an unhealthy obsession with books, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Star Wars. She finds hockey to be the best sport in the world (Go Dallas Stars!) and is working on her first novel, but mostly glowers at a blank screen. You can find her on Twitter @nerdlingstale on Facebook @NerdlingTales or Instagram @nerdling_tales

2 comments on “Fantastically Full of Clichés

  1. “I don’t expect the screenwriters for a comic book movie to be really smart”

    That’s like saying, “studios don’t expect audiences to want comic book movies to be well-made films.”

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