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Here’s Why FANTASTIC FOUR (2015) Ranks as One of the Worst Superhero Films of All Time

fantasticREVIEW SUMMARY: Bearing only a superficial resemblance to its source material, Fantastic Four ranks as one of the worst superhero movies of all time. It makes all the previous lackluster incarnations of this story seem like Citizen Kane.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: 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.

PROS: Amazing cast…
CONS: …which is completely wasted in an inferior and cliché ridden film interpretation of Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four

In 1962 with the creation of the Fantastic Four, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby ushered in a new exciting epoch of comic book storytelling. The series broke bold new ground, defying much of the media conventions of the time. The family-centric quartet squabbled and often engaged in real life concerns and issues, alongside their otherworldly encounters. Unlike the original Fantastic Four comic, the terrible new movie, directed by Josh Trank (Chronicle), mires itself in inferiority and cliché and might actually hasten the demise of the superhero movie.

Bearing only a superficial resemblance to the story it purports to be adapting or at the very least inspired by, the film begins and spends way too much time recounting the childhoods of friends Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell). The pair work on a prototype teleporter, a project that the prodigy Richards started in middle school, and eventually attracts the attention of Professor Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey), director of the government-sponsored research institute Baxter Foundation. He recruits Reed, but not the “normal” Grimm. Aided by Storm’s children, his adopted daughter scientist Sue Storm (Kate Mara) and technician Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), Richards completes a “Quantum Gate,” that enables inter-dimensional travel. The device’s original designer, Storm’s wayward protégé Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) begrudgingly joins the team, largely due to his unrequited feelings for Sue.

To no one’s surprise, the group succeeds. When Reed, Johnny, and Von Doom learn of the facility’s supervisor Dr. Allen (Tim Blake Nelson) plan to use astronauts to be the first to venture into the parallel dimension, dubbed Planet Zero, the trio alongside the recruited Grimm commandeer the Quantum Gate. While on Planet Zero, Von Doom stupidly sticks his hand into glowing green pool of energy, causing the ground to erupt with green lava-like substance and the surface to collapse. After an attempt to rescue Von Doom fails, Reed, Johnny, and Ben manage to make it back to their shuttle just as the earthbound Sue recalls the ship. Upon its return, the machine explodes, altering Richard, Sue, Johnny, and Grimm on a molecular-genetic level, affording each super-human abilities.

The quartet each gains the expected powers in accordance with their comic book counterparts. Reed stretches. Ben is very strong and composed of rocks. Sue turns/renders things invisible and projects force fields. Johnny turns to flame. But unlike in the comics where Grimm’s terrifying visage is the only change seen as a detriment, all the new abilities are viewed as curses rather than blessings.

The changes in and of themselves may not be that awful if it wasn’t for the horrible hackneyed script by Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater, and Trank. It plays like someone who read the Fantastic Four told someone else about the comic, and then that second person described it to a third, who then wrote the script. The poorly conceived plot and story is mired in the worst type of stereotypical science fictional storytelling complete with info dumps, laughable dialogue, and multiple contrivances.

This complete and utter disaster successfully wasted the efforts of a very impressive cast. The heart of any great Fantastic Four tale centers around family, but even though most of the characters are still related, there is no sense of family in this movie. Sue and Johnny behave mostly like strangers throughout and have no sibling type banter. Their supposed brother-sister exchanges feel forced and tacked on. Ben Grimm is one of the more engaging characters in all of comicdom, but none of that is evident here. Reed and Ben’s friendship makes no sense. Nor does his involvement at any level with Quantum Gate. He brings no additional skills that would warrant his inclusion on the initial journey.

Plus the Thing looks idiotic without shorts.

Alongside Batman & Robin and Green Lantern, Fantastic Four ranks as one of the worst superhero movies of all time. It makes all the previous lackluster incarnations of this story seem like Citizen Kane.

There is a scene when Sue discusses how you can’t change the past, you can’t go back. If only the makers of the Fantastic Four had the power to go back and abort this travesty before assaulting audiences with 100 minutes of this garbage.

About Rick Klaw (9 Articles)
Professional freelance reviewer, geek maven, and optimistic curmudgeon, Richard “Rick” Klaw recently edited the anthologies The Apes of Wrath (Tachyon Publications) and Rayguns Over Texas (FACT). For the past 15 years, he has provided countless reviews, essays, and fiction for a variety of publications: The Austin Chronicle, Blastr, Moving Pictures Magazine, San Antonio Current, Kirkus Reviews, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy (Greenwood Press), Steampunk (Tachyon Publications), Cross Plains Universe (MonkeyBrain/FACT), and The Steampunk Bible (Abrams). Many of his writings were collected in Geek Confidential: Echoes from the 21st Century (MonkeyBrain). Klaw co-founded the influential Mojo Press, one of the first publishers dedicated to both graphic novels and prose books for the general bookstore market, and co-edited (with Joe R. Lansdale) the groundbreaking original anthology of short fiction in graphic form, Weird Business. He also served as the initial fiction editor for RevolutionSF.

12 Comments on Here’s Why FANTASTIC FOUR (2015) Ranks as One of the Worst Superhero Films of All Time

  1. Paul Weimer (@PrinceJvstin) // August 7, 2015 at 8:27 am //

    Oy vey.

  2. Didn’t Trank say several times that he didn’t bother to read any of the comics and neither should any of the cast members? It’s not that surprising the story bears no resemblance to them…

  3. This might be the most positive review I’ve read.

  4. Rick, you had me at “the Thing looks idiotic without shorts.”

  5. Paul Weimer (@PrinceJvstin) // August 7, 2015 at 6:20 pm //

    is 1/2 star the lowest rating ever given at SF Signal for anything ever?

  6. Maybe it’s just that something that seems acceptable as a comic book just won’t translate onto the screen well. The suspension of disbelief that I had reading the comic when I was a younger was helped by the fact that I cared about the characters — especially Grimm. Without that, a guy who stretches a lot is not exactly my idea of an exciting concept (apologies to Elongated Man). Actually, it’s funny rather than “gee whiz” awesome.

    The one point that really gets to me is the decision making process among studio execs to hire a particular director and then stick with him even though a project is sliding towards oblivion. I have a friend who is producing an indie romantic-comedy based upon a concept and script they wrote. She’s looking for investors so sent me the script to read. It was horrible. I knew it was horrible three or four pages into it and there is no way I’m throwing money into a project that sucks that bad without major script-doctoring. Aren’t there people in a studio who can read a script and recognize that it’s awful — and say so? That’s what gets to me. Do they sit there and say, “Eh, it’s good enough or something.” I just don’t get it.

  7. M. Robinson // August 8, 2015 at 9:55 am //

    “Film interpretation” is the main problem with all of these superhero movies and television series.

    Marvel Comics is the other problem, they whore their characters into the film interpretation blender and massacre relationships and timelines, blend realities, into a dren smoothie. I mean, if you are truely trying to build along running franchise the stories have been written–decades of material in some cases–all they have to do is render the a true storyline to film. Everything else, bad costumes, bad CGI, bad casting, can be overlooked–to a point.

    Any kid old enough to read a comic book can tell you what’s wrong and what’s right and why it’s so.

  8. Alexander // August 9, 2015 at 5:35 am //

    Small thing: I think you meant ‘detriment’ instead of ‘determinant’ when talking about the Thing:

    “… only change seen as a determinant…”

  9. It certainly seems there’s something about the FF that flummoxes filmmakers. Such good jobs have been done with Iron Man and Avengers, and then comes FF and…flop. Every time.

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