The Fantastic Four (1994)

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

Sometimes, a movie comes along that is so notorious, so terrible, so gosh-fucked appalling that no one reviewer may safely tackle it alone. To that end, Unshaved Mouse has teamed up with the illustrious NewtCave and Erik Copper to review the never-released Roger Corman-produced superhero movie; The Fantastic Four. 

UM: Hi guys and welcome to Unshaved Mouse. Make yourselves comfortable, don’t touch the continents. They bite.

“Hssssssssssss!”

 

UM: So. Erik. Newt. What the fuck did we just watch?

EC: I was under the impression that we were just witness to the birth of the anti-christ of comic book movies.

NC: Pretty much. This thing gets my vote for “Worst Marvel Film.” Including Howard the Duck.

UM: Was it though? I mean, can’t we grade of a curve? There were extenuating circumstances here.

NC: Fair point, furry one. But let me put it this way. Elektra? Released in theatres. Hulk? Released in theatres. Howard the Duck? For some reason, still released in theatres. Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four? Kept secret. Kept safe.

EC: Gandalf’s wise words were still not strong enough to keep this mess off of the internet, though. Because as we all know, technology is the MOST powerful of the dark arts.

UM: Speaking of dark arts, Erik, aren’t you supposed to be dead? 

EC: Huh?

UM: Yeah. I totally fed you to a shark at the end of our last review.

EC: Oh yeah. Dick! That was the single most tortorous experience of my life! I had to chew my way out of the shark’s stomach! I still have nightmares! I

UM: Heh.

EC: It’s not funny!

UM: It was funny to everyone who wasn’t you. Which, y’know, was the entire human race. Needs of the many, Erik.

NC: Should I step outside while you two work through your prior history?

UM: Nah baby, we cool. Let’s get started. Newt, as our resident Marvel buff, what can you tell us about the good ol’ Fantastic Four?

NC: Probably more than is either necessary or interesting. But, limiting myself to relevant information, the Fantastic Four have often been referred to as “Marvel’s First Family.” and that’s only because that’s exactly what they are. Back in the ancient past of 1961, Stan Lee took it upon himself to create a team of superheroes like none that had come before. Instead of a bunch of square-jawed Super Friends, he elected to make a team that was more like a family trying to make the best of a bad situation.

UM: With Square Jaws.

EC: Rather rubbery and slightly malleable jaws, too.

NC: When The Fantastic Four #1 hit newsstands, they didn’t even have costumes or secret identities. They were all about breaking the norms of what people had come to expect from the superhero genre.

UM: I think the FF was really the big bang of the modern Marvel universe. So many of the characters and concepts that make up that world got their start in the pages of Fantastic Four. Doctor Doom, Black Panther, the Inhumans, the Skrulls, the Kree, the list just goes on and on.

NC: Exactly. The company wasn’t even called “Marvel” before the FF came along. Anything before that was published under the not-so-timeless brand of “Timely.”

EC: It was incredible how fast the superhero boom took off. Most of the heroes we know today didn’t even start off as anything other than one-off stories that were just too popular to remain that way. Spider-Man? He first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15. Thor? He was first introduced in Journey into Mystery. Iron Man? Tales of Suspense. These heroes didn’t start off timeless, but they slowly captured our hearts. The Fantastic Four is no different.

UM: Which is kind of why it’s so sickening how Marvel are treating this title now, basically sweeping it under the rug because they can’t get the movie rights back from Fox.

NC: Well, to be fair, they’re doing that with ALL the properties they haven’t regained the movie rights to, which seems a bit like dirty pool to me.

UM: I dunno dude. The day I see Wolverine and Spidey at the dole office maybe. It seems like the Fantastic Four have gotten it worse than anyone.

EC: I don’t even know who’s side to be on. Fox is being a child not willing to share its toy, and Marvel is being a child throwing a tantrum because they want that toy SO VERY BAD.

NC: It’s a crappy situation, and I think everybody involved lost. I mean, I know we’re supposed to reserve judgement on Fant-four-stic… but yeah. ‘Nuff said, am I right?

UM: I will lay good money on it being the best Fantastic Four film ever.

EC: I will lay good money on it being an attempt. And that’s about all I can give it.

NC: I will lay good money on the team being rebooted with the SAME DAMN STORY enough times that the filmmakers all throw their hands in the air and finally adapt Neil Gaiman’s Marvel 1602.

UM: Ah, the Fantastick Four!

EC: Yes, and Peter Parquagh! (GOD WHY?!)

UM: Okay, but what about today’s movie? If I may?

NC: Go right ahead.

UM: I thank ye. So, back before Marvel decided to stop letting other companies fuck up their characters and just do it right themselves, they sold the movie rights to the Fantastic Four for a song and a wink to a German producer named Bernd Eichinger. Eichinger had a limited amount of time to make the movie or else the rights would revert to Marvel so, when he couldn’t get the money in time, he teamed up with legendary cheapo movie-maker Roger Corman to make a superhero movie in three weeks with $1 million. The resulting…thing…was never meant to be seen by human eyes. It was solely created to allow the company to hold on to the movie rights. Thankfully, such shady business practices would never occur in Hollywood today.

Ha! It's a joke! Because it happens all the damn time!

Now how did that get there?

UM: So, just how bad can it be?

NC: Well, not only was it so bad that they’ve decided to sit on it until they can find a Hobbit to throw it into a volcano, but it’s got Roger Corman at the helm. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, it was directed by Oley Sassone, the visionary who brought us such masterpieces as Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight and Relentless IV: Ashes to Ashes. And to top it all off, it stars… well, nobody.

EC: That’s not quite true. It stars a lot…Of stars. In space. Because the thing with the…ship in space, and the…Yeah. Ha. Ha…

UM: You’re dead to us, Erik. Can I also just mention that Vanessa Redgrave was masterful in Bloodfist III?

NC: No wonder she got that Academy Award.

UM: So the movie begins with a big nineties-CGI “4” flying towards the camera and is it just me or does this look less like “Epic Superhero Movie” and more “Local News Affiliate”? 

4

 

NC: Welcome to Channel Four News. Today’s top story: Planets exist.

UM: Pff. Well sure, if you believe the pro-planet media. Wake up sheeple!  Anyway, can I just say that these opening credits, cheap though they are, relying on stock NASA footage though they undoubtedly do, actually do a better job evoking the wonder of space travel than Star Trek Enterprise?

NC: The only “wondering” I was doing was wondering how exactly THAT crew of yahoos got into space. A feeling which this movie will bring up again, I fear….

UM: So the movie begins with Reed Richards (Alex Hyde-White) in science class while his professor explains to the class the speed of light. Isn’t this a little rudimentary for college science?

NC: Ah, but you see, he’s teaching it in KILOMETERS! Actually, my bad, he forgets the speed of light in kilometers, leaving Reed to remind him.

UM: Thus establishing Reed as a GENIUS!

NC: Yeah, it’s not like there are any large areas of the Earth that use this “Metric system” I’ve heard so much about to measure distance, weight, and mass.

UM: Can I just say, Hyde-White’s not bad at all? Or am I just grasping at straws?

NC: Considering that 90% of the cast hasn’t appeared yet, you may be damning him with faint praise.

UM: Let me put it this way: He reminds me of an actor.

NC: I’ll admit that he actually does a decent job of not acting like a stereotypical nerd. Emoting… not so much.

UM: Anyway, we also meet his classmate Ben Grimm who’s a big jock and his science partner Victor Von Doom who looks like nothing so much as the abandoned love child of off-brand Benedict Cumberbatch and Tommy Wiseau.

Benedict Cumberbatch

NC: Well, they only had a million dollars. They couldn’t afford a name brand one.

UM: So, here’s the setup. A “radioactive comet-like energy source” that orbits earth every ten years at light speed but is going to be closer to earth than it has ever been tonight when it will slow down to the speed of the earth’s orbit…

"STOP! STOP! YOU ARE KILLING ME!"

“STOP! STOP! YOU ARE KILLING ME!”

NC: You know, it might not resemble actual science, but it’s five syllables away from being a haiku.

Radioactive

Comet-like energy source

So sorry, Hawking

UM: That’s beautiful man. Okay so Reed and Victor have built a machine to harness the power of…oh crap I forgot to mention the name of the comet thing, didn’t I?

NC: Yeah, I think it bears mentioning.

UM: Do I have to?

NC: Somebody has to. If you don’t feel up to it….

UM: No. No, it’s fine. It’s called Colossus.

NC: I think we can skip the obligatory X-Men joke. There’s probably not a single reader who isn’t thinking the exact same thing.

UM: Man, it’s like. It’s there. And it’s like. “Make a joke! Make a joke!” and I’m like. No. I don’t wanna. Fuck off.

NC: Which is making me wonder… are the filmmakers just using the name because it sounds cool or was this an intentional reference? And… just… why? I shouldn’t be this confused.

UM: I guarantee you they looked for a word for “big thing” and left it there.

NC: Count your blessings that it wasn’t named “Super-Size.” Marvel was having enough problems in the 90’s without McDonald’s filing a suit.

UM: Victor and Reed argue over the calculations but Reed promises Victor that he’s right and Victor’s wrong.

EC: I kind of like this scene. I mean, it’s little more than blatant telegraphing of the later problem with their calculations, but there actually seems to be a genuine friendship between these two. Or maybe some desires that would make them very happy when June 26th, 2015 rolled around.

UM: For those reading at home, Erik was actually late and only arrived at this point in the review. We then went back and re-inserted him so that it looked like he was here from the beginning. Flawless retcon.

EC: It’s true. I arrived like Galactus without a herald.

NC: Take notes, Marvel and DC. We didn’t have to break reality in a crisis crossover to do it.

UM: I dunno. This may have fucked up the Foodfight! Universe somehow. Then again, who cares?

NC: I’m sure nothing of value was lost.

EC: So, don’t be alarmed if I don’t say anything for long stretches. I may also sob quietly, if that’s alright. It’s been a rough time for me. Slowly digesting with only a half-eaten fish for company…. I called him Geoff. Damn brave soul.

A moments silence please.

A moment’s silence please.

UM: So, moving on. While Victor and Reed try and overcome their simmering sexual tension, that is, discuss the experiment, they’re watched by two shifty looking Eastern Europeans who are clearly searching for Moose and Squirrel.

NC: But they’ve cleverly blended in by… well, I was going to say they were playing chess, but one of them is jumping a piece around the board in exactly the way chess pieces aren’t known for.

UM: These two chess non-masters are Kragstadt and Trigorin. And I love them. Seriously. These are guys who know how to find the simple pleasures in being the henchmen of a diabolical mastermind.

NC: Joe Quesada?

UM: I said “evil”, not “satanic”.

NC: …Steven Moffat?

UM: Who? I checked out of Dr. Who after Eccleston left.

NC: Remember the guy who wrote “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances”?

UM: Oh man, those were awesome.

NC: Then he decided to take the very same elements that made his stories great and use them repeatedly until the charm was gone. And speaking of damaging intellectual properties, we’ve got the rest of the movie to cover.

UM: Okay, so Reed heads back to his digs in Mrs Storm’s Boarding House where we meet his landlady, Mrs Storm, and her kids, Sue and Johnny. Sue is of course the future Invisible Woman and Reed’s love interest and I think I have a picture of her, hang on.

Foetus

UM: Guys, tell me that I’m not the only one who finds it messed up that we’re introduced to our hero’s love interest when he’s an adult and she’s still in her My Little Pony socks?

NC: Before I answer that, I’m going to go change my socks for a completely unrelated reason.

UM: For a completely unrelated reason I’m not going to ask why.

NC: But yes, it’s really weird. And it’s worse when you go in with the foreknowledge that these two are going to be our A-couple of the movie. So this little introduction scene feels more like Reed’s doing the ol’ “jailbait wait” than anything else.

UM: Sue watches him go up the stairs and whispers “He’s dreamy…” and eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwww holy shit that’s Mercedes McNab!

NC: …a Scottish sports car?

UM: Heathen. She was Harmony in Buffy and Angel. She’s an actor that I’ve actually heard of.

NC: Wait a second. I’M the heathen here? Why, I’ll bet YOU didn’t even notice that Reed Richards is being played by the same guy who played young Sean Connery in the first scene of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? Or the fact that Reed’s professor was Punky Brewster’s dad? Who’s the heathen NOW, rodent? …still me, isn’t it?

UM: Burn the witch.

”You got it. Been itchin’ to do this since that crack about Steven Moffat.”

”You got it. Been itchin’ to do this since that crack about Steven Moffat.”

UM: I should have warned you that my mob is made up of Whovians, like roughly eighty percent of all mobs. Anyway, Reed and Victor prepare to activate their machine which looks like nothing so much as a giant metal spider penis built to fuck the very heavens themselves.

Well. They only had a million dollars.

Well. They only had a million dollars.

UM: Not helping matters, Reed’s first line when he sees it is “I never thought we could pull it off.”

NC: Not with the buckets of sexual tension getting in the way of everything. Reed’s not a fan of Victor’s math, but Victor says the math is based on Reed’s questionable numbers, and I’m sure this argument will just degrade into one of them saying the other’s mama’s so fat her total gravitational attraction exceeds her total Van Der Waals bonding force.

UM: And then the man love. Hot, hot man love.

NC: Pale, pasty, slightly-out-of-shape, nerdy man love. Let’s just say I’m not looking forward to seeing Reed in tights.

UM: That makes you.

NC: It’ll be like wrapping a slightly flaccid Stretch Armstrong in spandex.

UM: The experiment begins but the spider-cock is no match for COLOSSUS and Victor gets hit with a blast of energy.

"YOU AH TEARING ME AHPART COLOSSUS!"

“YOU AH TEARING ME AHPART COLOSSUS!”

UM: The lab blows up and Ben races to the scene and is able to drag Reed out of the wreckage. At the hospital, Reed is told by Kragstadt, who’s now dressed like a doctor, that Victor didn’t make it.

NC: Oh, how this entire sequence makes no sense. Shall I count the ways?

UM: Prithee, sirrah.

NC: Ignoring the pitiful attempt at science that has reduced one of the greatest astrophysicists of all time to a sobbing wreck, we’re never really told what this experiment is supposed to accomplish, save for some vague rumblings of creating the “energy of tomorrow.”

"How original."

“How original.”

 

NC: And even then, why does Victor have henchmen put into place to fake his death? What’s the purpose of it? What is his goal? What if the experiment failed and he WASN’T hit by badly-explained science? Would he have faked his death by slipping in the tub?

UM: Yeah. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for them to pretend that he’s dead.

NC: In the comics, Doom was forced to return to Latveria after getting expelled from college because his unsanctioned experiments to contact the dead blew up a lab and disfigured him. But here, he’s just faking his death after he and Reed blew up the space that some fool rented out to them.

UM: In fairness, I have done that when I couldn’t pay the rent.

NC: Oh, so he’s just stiffing Reed over his half of the deposit on that workspace then. Truly, he is an evil mastermind!

UM: Ranked 4th greatest comic book villain of all time for a reason!

EC: Right behind the Joker and all of his parking tickets.

UM: TEN YEARS LATER.

NC: Ten years from when? What year was the opening even supposed to take place in?

EC: Isn’t it obvious? THE YEAR 20XX! As is traditional, of course.

NC: Because I couldn’t help but see… um… a certain couple of buildings in the New York skyline that would be noticeably absent ten years after 1992….

EC: …I think we know why this was unreleased…

UM: Right. THAT was the reason.

EC: Hey, if it was reason enough to pull an awesome Spider-Man trailer, it was reason enough to pull this turd.

UM: Alright so, it’s ten years later and in New York Reed and Ben are looking over their new spaceship that they plan to fly to Colossus because Reed has apparently learned nothing. Also, his spaceship looks more like a kite.

Well. They only had a million dollars.

Well. They only had a million dollars.

NC: Yeah, even Ben calls the thing a “hunka junk,” despite the fact that it made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs! If only it looked as futuristic as that room they’re in.

EC: I just don’t know why everything in the future seems to be built segmented. The chairs are in segments, the decorations are in segments…Is the future just run by centipede overlords? Because if so, I want off.

UM: The next part is so baffling that even the movie just grinds to a halt to point out how stupid it is. Ben takes Reed back to Mrs Storm’s boarding house so that they can ask Johnny and Sue to go with them on their deadly space mission.

NC: Ben TRIES to justify this by saying that the two untrained civilians know more about the project than anybody else. And if “anybody else” includes Reed, then I think that explains a LOT of things.

UM: The biggest problem with any Fantastic Four origin is explaining just what Sue and Johnny are doing on the damn ship in the first place. In the comics, the mission is cancelled and Reed goes ahead with it anyway and he takes Sue and Johnny along because he needs a crew and they’re the two nearest mammals. In the Tim Story movies, Johnny’s a pilot and Sue’s a geneticist or something so it makes more sense. Here though? They have to take them into space because “they’d never forgive us if we went without them.” The fuck? Reed even just pulls up Ben short and says “Ben this is crazy. What do they know about astrophysics?”

NC: Yeah, in reality, becoming an astronaut requires one to have nearly the same qualifications in height, weight, IQ, and experience that it takes to become Batman. Good luck getting NASA to approve this, Reed.

UM: Although, now I want to see a comedy where Buzz Aldrin is Neil Armstrong’s screw-up friend from high school that he brought along with him to the moon because, through a wacky series of misunderstandings, Buzz thought he was going too and Neil didn’t have the heart to say no to him. It could star Adam Sandler and Kevin James. It would be hilarious! Wait, no. It would be death to all mankind.

NC: I don’t know, I’ve often fantasized about shooting Adam Sandler into space. But it looked a lot less like Apollo 11 and more like when Jor-El stuck Zod in the Phantom Zone.

UM: Despite the fact that they haven’t even moved out of their parents home, Sue and Johnny are now along for the ride pretty much solely because Sue is hot now. Also, the guy playing Johnny…guys what is this I don’t even?

NC: What, you’re not a fan of Jay Underwood, former Fine Young Gentleman Who Tried His Very Best, star of The Boy Who Could Fly?

UM: More like the Guy Who Couldn’t Act. Or maybe the guy who acted too much? Whatever he’s doing, he needs to do less of it. All of it. Jay, you just need to stop…this.

"You just pointed to all of me."

“You just pointed to all of me.”

NC: He reminds me of those plays I did in college. There’d always be that one background actor who would still make the scene about him, even if all he was doing was pretending to sleep. Usually, the director tells them to knock it off. Here, they see the part where Johnny draws attention to himself by checking his watch during Reed and Sue’s moment, and say “That’ll do.”

UM: In theatre, there’s a special term for people like that.

NC: Do tell.

UM: Assholes. Also, this is the scene where the team gets it’s name. Mrs Storm just looks at them and says “Look at you! The Fantastic Four!” It’s just, wow. This may be the first superhero team where it’s shown that, hey, at least their mom thinks they’re cool.

NC: Yeah, well, I think her grasp on reality is a bit tenuous. I mean, Ben straight up asked her out of the blue if Johnny and Sue could come to space, and she barely acted like anything was the matter.

UM: Okay, so Kragstadt and Trigorin are staking out the Baxter Building and reporting to a mysterious shadowy figure with a booming voice Doom okay, it’s Doctor Doom. It’s obviously Doctor Doom. And can I say something? I prefer this Doctor Doom to the one from the Tim Story movies.

NC: Agreed. I mean, look at this introduction! Mostly in shadow, henchmen following his unknown plans, the eerie sliver of light on his eye…. I mean, yeah, it’s cliché, but it’s at least a step up from Julian McMahon’s blandy-bland perma-smirk.

UM: Also, it’s cliché precisely because this character is so influential. Darth Vader wouldn’t exist without Doctor Doom, the character has cast an absolutely massive shadow, not just on comic books but on pop culture in general. Now, this version isn’t even near perfect. It might not even be all that objectively good. But at least it IS DOOM. All the elements are there. The mask, the cloak, the booming voice, the delusions of grandeur, the melodrama, Latveria. It’s all there. It’s a little fuzzy, but all the elements are in place. McMahon’s Doom was a slimy business man with superpowers. It was a completely different character.

NC: And to top it all off, Joseph Culp is actually ACTING. And you know what? He’s acting the pants off of McMahon. It’s important to keep in mind that they never told the actors they weren’t going to release this film. This is genuine effort. The actors are going for Schindler’s List, but they’re in Springtime for Hitler.

UM: Yeah. Most of them weren’t paid either. It’s actually really sad, and one of the reasons I kinda wanted to love this movie going in. I would have loved if they’d managed to make an objectively better Fantastic Four movie than Fox did. But…no, I can’t in good conscience say that. I’d have to hand in my reviewing badge and snark gun.

NC: Well… I’ll save my overall opinion of this movie for a bit later. But I’m going to have to disagree with you a bit.

UM: Alright, well. Reed’s ordered a massive diamond to harvest Colossus’ energy and Doom and his cronies watch as it’s delivered to the Baxter building. But then, the movie takes an absolutely batshit left turn, apparently into the Leprechaun franchise.

Leprecaun

UM: Ah the Jeweller. So, Newt. Perhaps you can give us a rundown of the history of the Jeweller, one of the most beloved and storied villains in the Fantastic Four’s rogues gallery?

NC: Well, let me think… Annihilus, Diablo, Frightful Four, Galactus, Impossible Man…. Uh… Nope. drawing a blank on this one. Let me check my Ultimate Fantastic Four….

UM: It was a trick question. They created a new villain. You know why?

NC: It’s not going to be a good reason, is it?

UM: Because fuck every damn thing, that’s why. The Jeweller is where the movie just goes completely off the rails for me. The Fantastic Four have one of the best rogues galleries in comics, and they give us this off-brand Penguin knock-off.

NC: Worse than that. He’s a bootleg Mole Man given a Penguin paintjob and a smattering of leprechaun because… I don’t know, anti-Irish racism?

UM: He’s clearly English dude. What even the hell?

NC: Hmm. Yeah, never mind, that’s definitely an English accent. Before you pointed that out, I always thought this character was supposed to have some kind of weird anti-Irish theme to him by giving him stereotypical leprechaun traits without having him actually be a leprechaun. I mean, the Jeweller’s short, wearing a waistcoat, hides from the outside world, and is after treasure. Then again, the same could be said of Bilbo Baggins, so I guess I was a little quick to get all j’accuse on this film’s hindquarters. So, uh… maybe you should critique the character some more while I take my foot out of my mouth.

UM: My problems with this character are many. Firstly; he’s a jewel thief who runs a gang of street criminals. The Fantastic Four is so above this bullshit I can’t even. This is a team who saves THE UNIVERSE on a regular basis. The Jeweller would be small beer for Spider-Man.

NC: Hawkeye could take this loser out without his arrows.

UM: The second problem is more structural. Having two super villains in your superhero movie is dicey at the best of times. It fails more often than it succeeds. Having two super villains in a movie that’s ALSO your origin story is just nuts. There’s not enough time to give every storyline its due and have it all cohere. Batman Begins managed it only because it had both it’s villains serving dual roles in the story. Ra’s Al Ghul is our main villain, but he also serves as the hero’s mentor in the first act before disappearing in the second and reappearing in the third. The Scarecrow is the main villain in the second act, but then steps into the role of henchman for the third act. It’s a very smart screenplay that keeps juggling it’s characters so that they always serve a function in the plot. This is the opposite of that. See, while Doom observes, the Jeweller steals Reed’s diamond and replaces it with a fake, and Doom laughs and says that now he doesn’t have to sabotage Reed’s experiment after all and he can just kick back and watch it all go to hell. And now our main villain looks weaker because he seems to be passive and just letting the plot happen around him. By having two villains instead of one, they end up competing against each other and reducing the threat to our heroes.

NC: So, now that I’ve been corrected on the matter, what IS the Jeweler’s “theme” supposed to be? Nothing about him really screams “Jeweler” apart from his eyepiece and the fact that he’s going to steal a single diamond. Honestly, what with his army of street hoodlums and his ramshackle hideout, they should have called him something like the Street Ghost, or the Lord of the Lost Men. And why didn’t they just use Mole Man? Seriously!

UM: Probably couldn’t afford the monsters. Also, who do I have to kill to get a Fing Fang Foom movie?

NC: Well, he had all those alleged cameos in Iron Man 3. Take a closer look at the Mandarin’s dragon motifs, sometime. Shane Black claims they’re Fin Fang Foom. “Claims” being the operative word.

UM: I’ll do that.

NC: After the Jeweller’s very brief introduction, we get to follow the diamond’s journey inside, as Ben takes it and lightly bumps into a blind woman, causing her to immediately hit the ground and drop the sculpture she was carrying. As schmaltzy piano music plays, Ben decides to help her by picking her up and moving her, causing her to lose her frame of reference for her position and direction. Yeah, THAT’LL calm her down, Ben.

UM: I take it back. THIS is the worst part of the whole movie. The Alicia/Ben stuff. And what makes it worse, this is one of the only parts of the Tim Story movies that actually worked.

NC: True. When Alicia showed up there, she delivered some words of wisdom to a transformed Ben Grimm about how not being “normal” anymore isn’t the end of the world. Here, Ben breaks her stuff and shakes her around before she uses her superpowers to “sense” that he’s really sorry about it.

EC: Who is she, Daredevil?

NC: No, but with the high rate of horrible accidents in the MArvel Universe, it’s very possible she got hit in the face by radioactive waste.

EC: Good point. Thor can barely swing his hammer around without hitting somebody given superpowers by radiation.

NC: Yeah, I wish he’d come along to fight the Absorbing Man, because this scene is just pitifully done.

UM: I actually rewatched the 2004 movie in preparation for this review and the equivalent scene between Ben and Alicia is really nicely done. Firstly, she only meets him after the transformation. But Kerry Washington and Michael Chiklis really sold it. I also love how, when she’s feeling his face for the first time, she’s shocked but not horrified. It’s like “Wow, you are like no-one I have ever felt before and you’re kind of astonishing.”

NC: Well, the Thing makeup WAS really good; I’d be astonished, too. After both sets of villains start skulking about, Reed whips out the diamond to show to the others. And… well, nothing important really happens here apart from some technobabble about the “diamond” and the Jeweller swapping it out for a fake one after creepily pining after Alicia.

EC: Oh, and Dr. Doom has himself a good laugh over the fact that the diamond was replaced with a “man-made replica.”

NC: Uh, no DURR, Doomy. Naturally occurring exact replicas of diamonds are pretty hard to come by. Whatever your doctorate’s in, I hope it’s not geology.

UM: Alright so the four launch into space and approach Colossus, but because the diamond’s a fake they get bathed in cosmic radiation and suddenly the cockpit is filled with light and angelic choirs and holy shit, it turns out the power cosmic is actually…

Jesus

UM: So the ship crashes and Ben, Reed and Johnny find each other, a little charred but otherwise fine. Johnny is ecstatic that they’re all still alive and…aren’t they forgetting someone?

NC: Oh, yeah, wasn’t there a female character in this? I almost forgot about Sue, what with her lack of screentime, characterization, and lines so far.

Marvel

 

UM: Yeah, it’s especially weird because it’s Johnny. Dude, maybe check your sister’s still alive before popping the champagne.

NC: Johnny’s like a goldfish. He hadn’t seen his sister for a few seconds, so he completely forgot about her. He was probably also a little distracted by catching a bush on fire with a sneeze. A terribly-acted sneeze.

UM: That sneeze alone was worthy of a razzie.

NC: If this movie had actually been released, Burt Reynolds’ performance in Cop and a Half would have been safe.

UM: Anyway, Sue shows up (as if anyone cares) but half her body invisible.

Christmas past

“When the bell tolls one, you shall be visited by three spirits!”

NC: Sue freaks out once she realizes her legs have disappeared, and apparently forgets how to use them. To keep her from falling over, Reed whips out the special effect this movie uses for its stretching.

Well. They only had a million dollars.

Well. They only had a million dollars.

 

UM: That night, after a quick pose against the sunset, Reed shoots up his last flare in the hope that they will be rescued from their crash site before they have to eat Johnny. I mean, sure. They’ll pretend to have a debate over it but….c’mon. It’s obvious that Johnny’s going to be eaten first.

NC: Because it’s not like they could walk to the nearest town, or anything. I mean, they’re in a grassy field! Truly the most inhospitable of terrain!

UM: Hey, my country is ninety per cent grassy field and let me tell you! Those sheep don’t mess around.

They can strip the flesh from a mans body in a matter of months.

They can strip the flesh from a man’s body in a matter of months.

EC: The thought of dying in a field shortly after having become freaks of nature is enough for Johnny to have himself a little acting attack.

NC: He’s clearly going for the Oscar, but it looks more like he’s swatting flies away.

UM: I think someone swapped his Oscar clip with his gag reel. That or he’s just unfathomably bad.

EC: I like to think they made a gag reel only to discover it was better than Jay Underwood’s actual attempts at acting. It would explain a lot.

UM: Reed tries to assure them that there’s a scientific explanation for everything and suggests they get some rest. Except for Johnny, who’s given the mission of keeping their campfire going all night. Then Reed just drapes his arm over Susan and…did I miss the part where they’re going out now? Did the movie just shrug and say “look, you know where this is going, let’s just skip ahead.”? The writer of this movie seems to have the same understanding of how adult romantic relationships work that a ten year old has.

NC: Yeah, forget their attempted smoldering passion. The only smoldering I can believe at the moment is when Johnny decides to stare at the fire in his hand for a bit. I have to admit it looks really good as far as obviously-fake cartoon flames go. Can’t say the same about the weird, demonic possession-style music playing over it, though.

EC: But they end up settling down for the night when we suddenly cut to Dr. Doom wailing over the fact that his henchmen have informed him that the four survived their crash, despite the fact that no one could possibly know that yet.

NC: Unless somebody happened to take a walk in that field.

UM: Pah! Fools! DOOM KNOWS ALL!

EC: Doom gives the order to find the four before exiting with a stylish cape-twirl as we cut to an old-timey spinning newspaper informing us that the world at large believes our heroes to be dead.

UM: The spinning newspapers in this movie are some of the hardest working spinning newspapers I have ever seen. They put in trojan work. They carry this movie. Heroes, one and all.

NC: Back in New York, Alicia appears to be licking clay off her fingers while reminiscing about Ben’s voice.

"Mmmmm...chalky."

“Mmmmm…chalky.”

UM: A delivery man with a NOO YOAK accent soon arrives to deliver plaster busts of the Fantastic Four to her. Alicia says “C’mon in, it’s open.” Because a blind lady living in New York would totally leave her front door unlocked. Now, follow me friends, as we scale the very highest peaks of bullshit mountain. The delivery guy is bringing her four ceramic heads that were apparently made for the crew’s helmet fittings.

EC: As opposed to measuring their actual heads, I guess?

UM: And Alicia’s been hired to make a memorial statue using the busts as a guideline. Meanwhile, underneath the streets, the Jeweller’s holding a meeting of his gang of street hoodlums, asking what “beauty” is and saying that they’re all such stuff as dreams are made of.

NC: But I thought everybody was made out of star stuff.

UM: No, no, no, at the centre of every star is a dream and in each dream is an Arabian Night. Did you even read my Thief and the Cobbler review?

NC: Hmmm… I’m not so sure. I’d get Stephen Hawking to verify that, but I think he’s been trying to avoid us since the beginning of this review.

UM: So after flattering his army of minions, he tells them his intention of getting himself a queen. After he makes his demand, his chief follower starts jumping around yelling “A queen! A queen!” and before they all start chanting it as they head into the streets.

NC: And as the Jeweler’s men infiltrate Alicia’s studio, she starts feeling up the faces of the team’s busts, until she gets to Ben’s. She realizes that it’s the face of the man who shook her around for a bit and now she’s devastated because she LOVED HIM, LOVED HIM! Yeah, I’m calling bullcrap on this. She barely touched Ben’s face in that earlier scene.

UM: I’m calling bullcrap on this because that’s not how humans act. Pretty much every Disney movie I have ever reviewed had a more believable romance plot than this.

NC: She reads the label that was made for her, and learns that his name was Benjamin Grimm. As she continues to mourn the death of someone she met for less than a minute…. the horrible henchmen of the unjust Jeweller strike with such single-minded savagery!

UM: Dude, I appreciate the effort, but it’ll take more than an exclamation point to make that sentence dramatic. The guy’s named the Jeweller. THE JEWELLER, NEWT.

NC: But… what about my alliteration?

UM: THE FUCKING JEWELLER.

NC: They surround her and make weird gremlin noises for a bit before they spray her in the face with knockout gas. A shot which, might I add, is framed from the point of view of a blind lady. I really hope I don’t need to tell any of you what’s wrong with that.

UM: As the minions take her back to their master, jeeps arrive at our heroes’ location, making Reed so happy that he gently strokes Sue’s chin, the saucy devil. As one of the army guys tells Reed that they’re going to escort him back to debriefing, they military men all whip out their guns as Ben Grimm walks into the scene. He’s a bit different now.

I give you: Donald Trump without his wig.

I give you: Donald Trump without his wig.

UM: Okay, I think we’re all thinking the same thing about this.Good. God. Damn. That is an amazing Thing. It looks right. The face moves perfectly. Whoever built this, I hope they went on to bigger and better Things, if you’ll pardon the pun. Actually, don’t pardon the pun. I’d think less of you if you did.

NC: They only had a million dollars. After seeing the Thing costume… Money well spent. Not even kidding.

UM: This costume deserves a much better movie. We also get a change of actor, with the Thing now being played by stuntman Carl Ciarfalio.

NC: When you see still frames of it, it’s easy to criticize it. The color, the texture, the rubberiness, et cetera; it just looks off. But seeing this costume in motion is…. well, I’d even say it’s better that Michael Chiklis’s outfit in the Tim Story film. I mean, that makeup was good, but it simply wasn’t capable of the relatively subtle expressions the animatronics in this costume’s face could achieve. But unfortunately, there still are a few issues. The scene’s trying to convince us a bit too hard that this is dramatic, and having the character transform all of a sudden is a far cry from the slow buildup to the Thing’s reveal in the Tim Story film, but this isn’t too bad. Until he gives a half-hearted scream of anguish, that is.

UM: Yeah, it’s like he could complain about being transformed into an inhuman orange McNugget, but what’s the point? The four are taken to a secure facility where they are put through a gauntlet of tests by someone claiming to be a doctor.

Doctor

Oh this guy’s definitely a doctor. I mean c’mon, labcoat, stethoscope, head mirror, how much more “doctor” could he be? And the answer is “None. None more doctor.”

NC: The doctor reminds me of a bargain basement Robert Picardo. And I don’t know about you guys, but I’m struggling to come up with synonyms for “similar to, but not as good as.”

UM: Relax, I’ve got one of my best people on it.

"Did you try "bargain basement"?"

“Did you try “bargain basement”?”

"Yeah, we used that."

“Yeah, we used that.”

"Okay, how bout "shitmilar"?"

“Okay, how bout “shitmilar”?”

"Shitmilar?"

“Shitmilar?”

"Yeah. Similar. But shit."

“Yeah. Similar. But shit.”

UM: We get a montage of the Doctor trying to take blood samples from all of them and getting spooked by their powers in different hi-larious ways.

NC: It’s not a bad sequence, all things considered, though it could use some kind of montage music. I kind of like Johnny freaking out at his hand suddenly catching fire. Chris Evans was WAY too cool with his new powers from the get-go.

UM: Chris Evans cannot be not cool. That is something Chris Evans cannot be.

EC: After the doctor has his various moments with each of the four, he meets with his secret master… Dr. Doom!

UM: Now THAT’S  a sentence worthy of an exclamation point!

EC: After he gives his report, Doom asks what would happen if they could put all those powers into one man.

NC: The climax of Rise of the Silver Surfer, that’s what.

UM: WE SWORE WE’D NEVER SPEAK OF IT!

NC: Doom gives to order to make it so, and preparations soon begin while Doom decides to go negotiate with the Jeweler and take his diamond. And since his entire staff is made up of, like, ten people, he gets Kragstadt and Trigorin on it.

And we're wearing sunglasses.

“It’s 106,000 miles to Latveria. We have a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses.” “Hit it.”

 

NC: And they soon find themselves in a back alley surrounded by the Jeweler’s men. Jeweler’s head crony takes their guns and leads them to the Jeweler’s hideout.

UM: Again, no. Why would the magnificence of Doom ever deign to treat with this back alley lowlife?

NC: Because this movie would make more sense if the Jeweller were replaced with the monarch of a kingdom at the center of the Earth whose name rhymes with “Pole Pan.”

EC: Meanwhile, the four are locked in a room where they’re told to keep waiting, not knowing of Doom’s true plans.

NC: Again, just like that part from Rise of the Silver Surfer.

UM: Does a secret pact sworn in blood over a burning DVD mean nothing anymore?

NC: Hey, in for a penny, in for a pound.

EC: They start discussing their suspicious treatment and decide to escape as a team. Meanwhile, the Jeweler rejects Kragstadt and Trigorin offer for the diamond, because he’s given it to his captive queen, Alicia.

NC: Let me get this straight, Jeweler. You saw the most beautiful diamond ever… and decided it would make a good gift for somebody who can’t see it. What would you get for Stephen Hawking, an X-Box Kinect?

"Please, it’s just a gussied up Playstation Move."

“Please, it’s just a gussied up Playstation Move.”

NC: The Jeweler tells the two to GTFO, but they whip out their guns instead of GTFO-ing. And so does the Jeweler’s army, quickly outnumbering and surrounding them. The henchmen are sent away in shame, and they inform their master of their failure. Doom, in a move that no doubt inspired the mid-credits scene of Age of Ultron, tells them that he’ll handle it himself and is coming over there soon.

UM: What was the point of this scene? Why was this here? What has been accomplished? What am I watching? What am I doing with my life? Who am I? Why am I a mouse? What even is anything? I think this movie is starting to seriously affect my higher brain functions.

NC: The F4 knock out the hazmat guys sent in to take another blood sample through the cunning use of spinning a still frame of the film and playing fighting sounds over it.

EC: Don’t make fun; they teach Navy SEALS that move.

NC: Having injured people that are, as far as the team knows, completely innocent, the more human members of the team sneak out in their hazmat suits. They head into a guard’s post and Reed takes a look at the computer screen, realizing that the strange language looks familiar….

UM: And again, Jay Underwood’s performance in this is something to behold. Do you know what it is? He gets more close ups than anyone else. The camera lingers on his performance in a way that is downright lascivious. It’s like the director is saying “Yes. I know he’s terrible. And I want you to watch. I want you to savour every minute of it.”

DONT YOU DARE LOOK AWAY.

DON’T YOU DARE LOOK AWAY.

EC: Johnny manages to dumb luck his way into unlocking the exit and Reed hits the alarm to signal Ben to escape. But before all four can make it out, they find a sciencey-laser, probably built from the thirty cents left over from making the Thing suit.

Million dollars, etc.

Million dollars, etc.

UM: Reed takes a look at it and is very impressed by it.

NC: Makes one of us.

UM: He tells Johnny that it incorporates some kind of atomic splitter. Johnny just shrugs, but then I don’t know what Reed expected. If he wanted someone to talk about weird science stuff maybe he should have brought some scientists along on his space mission. Doom walks in and thanks him for the compliment. Doctor Doom, class act.

NC: And this is the point where the movie goes off the rails for ME.

UM: Dude, what rails are you even watching?

NC: I mean… well, let’s just get Doom’s dialogue up on the screen for a second.

"My name is DOOM."

“My name is DOOM.”

NC: And yet, none of them figure out what we all already know.

Fant-Reed

“Hmm, I should really ask Superman or his friend Mr. Kent if they know anything about this guy.”

NC: Then he explains where they all actually are.

“Beautiful, charming little country. And I am it’s supreme and beloved monarch! Come back and visit us sometime! For a vacation! Bring the kids!”

“Beautiful, charming little country. And I am it’s supreme and beloved monarch! Come back and visit us sometime! For a vacation! Bring the kids!”

NC: Dr. Doom was menacing, relatively subtle, and actually pretty chilling in the earlier scenes. Enough to sort of make up for some of the movie’s failings. But… what happened, Doom? Why have you suddenly started making lame jokes? And he stays this way for the rest of the movie! I mean, say what you will about Julian McMahon, but his performance was at least consistent!

EC: Consistently bad, yes.

UM: Now, Newt. What do we say when Doctor Doom does anything that is not utterly, totally, 110 per cent badass?

NC: It was really a Doombot?

UM: There ya go.

EC: Doom summons his minions to take care of them all with their guns while he exits the room for his own safety. The four use their powers to beat up the goons, and in Sue’s case, trick them into killing each other, and Thing makes an exit through the wall.

UM: Is it just me or can the movie not make up its mind whether Sue “vanishes” in the sense that she’s invisible or she actually just ceases to exist? Anyway, this leads to an admittedly hilarious bit where they escape and Doom comes back to gloat only to discover all his henchmen on the ground and is just…”Welp”.

NC: Yeah, this probably IS a Doombot. You can practically see his brain go “Abort. Retry. Fail. Ignore.”

EC: After a cartoon 4 zooms across the screen, we cut back to the Baxter Building, with a light-up 4444 on it.

UM: So four people who got four different sets of superpowers and are now called the Fantastic Four just happened to be working in 4444, Four Freedoms Plaza?

"What are the odds?"

“What are the odds?”

NC: Well, when you find a building with that address lit up on the side, where ELSE are you going to film the Baxter Building’s exterior?

EC: Reed is doing his own experiments to figure out what happened to them as Sue tries and fails to talk to him, rhetorically asking why she’s so shy around him.

“Oh Reed, if only you knew how hard it is for beautiful blondes to talk to nerdy science guys.”

“Oh Reed, if only you knew how hard it is for beautiful blondes to talk to nerdy science guys.”

 

NC: Giving us our “House moment.”

UM: Reed figures out that their mutations are based on their personalities. Johnny’s an idiot hothead, Ben’s over-reliant on his brawn over his brain, Reed stretches himself too thin, and Sue gets nervous around Reed.

NC: Meaning that her main characteristic is defined by her relationship to a man.

Marvel

EC: Ben’s not too happy about getting the short end of the stick with the mutations, and goes to walk the night streets in a montage.

NC: As this happens, Sue has taken it upon herself to fashion everybody some superhero outfits. Because instead of force fields, she also got the secondary power of super-fast sewing.

UM: Just like Silver Age Superman.

EC: Eventually, the Jeweler’s main man finds him and decides to recruit him into the Jeweler’s gang. Speaking of him, Alicia is trying to convince him that he didn’t need to take her away from the outside world for her own good because she’d never felt like an outcast until she was kidnapped. The Jeweler leaves a creepy guy in charge of watching Alicia and goes to meet their gang’s newest member, the Thing. The Jeweler reacts like he’s just seen the birth of Venus and offers him a home among the outcasts.

"No words. Should have sent a poet."

“No words. Should have sent a poet.”

NC: Okay, so I always thought the Jeweler’s little secret lair was keeping with that leprechaun gimmick I used to think he had. You know, how fairies and elves and whatnot tend to hide from humans. And with that non-existent symbolism now thrown out the window, I really do have to ask why the Jeweler started up his little commune. He talks about how they’re all seen as freaks, so they’re making a new life for themselves, but… really? The Jeweler’s just a guy with an ugly, latex face. And Alicia… I mean, if anything, people have probably bent over backwards to help her out.

UM: Help her out, shake her around, same thing.

NC: Mole Man’s original reason for leaving the surface world was because everybody made fun of his face, but this is the 1990’s we’re talking about. Generally speaking, people were a bit more politically correct. People wouldn’t make fun of the Jeweler’s disfigurement. They’d wait until he got plastic surgery and THEN make fun of him. But they’d also put it on TV and pretend it was news.

tmz

 

UM: The Jeweler has the others treat Ben like a prince while Doom tells his head scientist to finish the laser while he’s off getting the diamond. Back at the Baxter Building, Sue starts asking just how in the heck a guy named “Doom” could know anything about Colossus, let alone how to build a machine to interact with it. But when Reed double checks some of Victor’s old notes, he discovers that the writing on that computer was in Latverian!

“Then that means Mr. Kent is…. curse you, Kal-El!”

“Then that means Mr. Kent is…. curse you, Kal-El!”

EC: Doom soon arrives at the Jeweler’s hideout and begins kicking ass, wiping the floor with the Jeweler’s army and demanding the diamond and shooting the Jeweler’s number one guy. But then the Jeweler shows up with Alicia as a hostage, saying that if he even touches it, she dies.

NC: Doom’s reaction is as appropriate as it is funny. “So? Please, don’t let me stop you.”

UM: Yes! Perfect! Perfect reaction! That’s Doom! The other guy was a doombot, but that guy’s Doom.

EC: But lucky for her, Ben arrives to save the day. Doom even greets him by name just to set up this scene’s climax. The Jeweler lets her go, so Doom takes over the duty of pointing a gun at her head.

“Say the line, Ben…”

“Say the line, Ben…”

“It’s clobberin’ time!”

“It’s clobberin’ time!”

"YAAAAAAAAAAYYY!"

“YAAAAAAAAAAYYY!”

 

NC: Alicia professes her love for him, turning him back into a human in what is actually an okay effect for the time.

UM: No. No it is not. Jurassic Park was a year before. It just looks like it was made in Ed Wood’s basement in the fifties.

NC: Hmm…. you’re right. God, this movie feels like it was made in the same era as Adam West’s Batman. Regardless, I’m not sure WHY he transformed back.

UM: Because instead of her love for him transcending his horrible disfigurement on account of his inner decency and noble soul, Alicia’s love makes him pretty again.

EC: Ben runs away while Doom decides to escape with both the diamond and Alicia. Once back in the streets, Ben turns back into the Thing through a couple jump cuts.

NC: I guess they’d gone through that entire million dollars by this point.

UM: Back at the Baxter Building, Dr. Doom is contacting Reed on his convenient wall monitor, waving hello as he greets the team.

NC: This part’s just… weird. Doom has a tendency to gesture a lot while he talks. So now that we can only see his face on the screen, he’s doing this weird pseudo-sign language while he talks.

UM: Also, he has these kinda, metallic doohickeys on his fingers and he keeps clicking them like a flamenco dancer with a set of castanets and it is so incredibly distracting. I feel like Doom needs ritalin.

EC: Using some stock footage of atom bomb tests, Doom demonstrates the power of his fully operational Death Star laser. Then he gives them twelve hours to surrender, or he’ll destroy New York.

NC: He writes the number twelve. In the air. With his finger. Just… what is this, Doom? What happened to you?

UM: Doombot.

NC: But…

EC: Doombot.

NC: But..!

UM: Top. Men. I mean, Doombot.

EC: Ben returns to help them save the day, and Reed has a generic “I don’t want the rest of you involved in something that’s my fault” spiel, but the others won’t hear of it.

NC: All for one, and all that. Sue reveals to Reed that she loves him, and he returns the sentiment before Johnny ruins the moment by… really, just by existing. After they put their hands together, they take off in the flying Fantasticar. Which they just have lying around, apparently.

UM: And I gotta say, for a story that traverses the globe and even ventures into space, there absolutely zero sense of scope. Latveria might as well be that shady looking crack den across the street.

EC: I thought that was the Jeweller’s hideout?

NC: They soon find themselves infiltrating Doom’s castle, and I’ll admit, Alex Hyde-White looks better in spandex than I would have thought. I hope it’s all you wanted and more, Mouse.

UM: This is my “Leia in a gold bikini”. They re-enter the laser room, getting caught within individual force fields while Doom makes fun of how lame they really are. And yes. They are incredibly lame.

Doom is right to mock you

Doom is right to mock you.

NC: Reed reveals that he knows who Doom really is, calling him Victor. Doom shrugs this off and continues to demand that he be called Dr. Doom, despite never actually finishing that doctorate.

UM: You know, at least Dr Evil actually spent seven years in evil medical school. There was a villain with integrity.

NC: He monologues about his hatred of Richards for putting him in that metal suit, despite that not being what happened in any way, and gloats about his revenge. He’s going to suck up all their powers and use them to wreak havoc, followed by the death of Alicia as Ben watches. Typical villain stuff.

EC: The power transfer soon begins, using the diamond, but Reed manages to escape by stretching out under the bottom of his force field and kicking the diamond away, wrecking everything and freeing the team.

NC: The Thing claims that it’s clobbering time “for real,” and this seems to actually be the case as they manage to beat up all of Doom’s guards.

EC: Doom activates the laser and runs off. Reed can’t stop it from firing, so Johnny turns into a cartoon and flies off to give it a shot.

UM: At last! Animation! My moment has come!

EC: Ben rescues Alicia and they get an actual introduction as she feels up his new, rocky form. She’s pretty cool with it, all things considered. And also seems to be turned on, oddly enough.

UM: This is a woman, mark you, who was visibly aroused by the taste of clay.

NC: Reed catches up with Doom at the top of the castle and confronts him. After a disappointingly quick fight with a few stretchy punches, Doom goes over the side.

EC: Reed reaches out to save Doom, but he disconnects his gauntlet from his armor, laughing as he falls to his death.

"LAZY BASTARD KOOKABURRAS!"

“LAZY BASTARD KOOKABURRAS!”

EC: Sue comes up, having barely done anything to help, and tells Reed that they should get home. But then… Doom’s leftover gauntlet starts tapping its finger.

NC: Wait… that’s it! Dr. Doom wasn’t really Dr. Doom at all.

UM: Uh, yeah. He was a Doombot. We’ve been through this repeatedly, Newt.

NC: No, he wasn’t. “Dr. Doom” was just a disembodied hand controlling a suit of armor the whole time. It explains everything! The ridiculous gestures, the weird sign language, why he kept moving his fingers for no reason the whole movie, the whole bit! ROUND UP THE USUAL SUSPECTS!

Hands

NC: Not enough, dammit! Get me a warrant to search the Addams Family’s house! Put out an apb for the wallmasters from Zelda! I want all these hands in cuffs!

EC: But wouldn’t the cuffs just slip off without arms to keep them on?

NC: …those magnificent bastards.

UM: ….Right. Meanwhile, Johnny has successfully flown ahead of the laser and succeeds at forcing it back into the skies.

NC: Oooh! Oooh! Can I say it?

UM: Alright. Alright. You can do it this once. Just this once, mind! This is an incredible responsibility and privilege, you get that that right?

NC: I do.

UM: Look at me Newt. Look at me. You’re only going to get one chance at this.

NC: Okay.

UM: Fuck this up, that’s it. One chance. One shot. You ready?

NC: I was born ready, Mouse. I was BORN ready.

UM: Okay. This is your moment. Take it.

Whores

NC: Oh my God…

EC: CORMAN, YOU WHORE!

NC: GODDAMMIT ERIK!

UM: You had one chance, Newt. You had one chance. And you fucked it up.

NC: Why are you so pissy, anyway?

UM: Never you mind.

NC: Mouse. C’mon. What’s up, little guy?

UM: I was actually really proud that I tweaked that this was either an homage or a blatant lift from the old Fleischer Superman cartoon “The Mad Scientist” (I actually think it’s supposed to be an homage since they even use a little of the music from the cartoon). But then you got it, and TV Tropes got it and now I just feel like a chump. It is weirdly appropriate though. After Jerry Siegel was blacklisted from DC for having the temerity to demand legal rights to Superman, Stan Lee hired him to write the Human Torch.

NC: I wonder how different DC would be today if Stan Lee taught Siegel and Shuster how to ride the wave to the top the same way he did.

EC: The film then abruptly cuts to the marriage of Reed and Sue, and the film ends with them riding away, with Reed’s floppy arm waving goodbye out the sunroof.

Wacky inflatable arm faliling tube man

UM: Well gentlemen. We survived. But at what cost? Your thoughts, guys?

NC: This movie is bad.

UM: Anything else?

NC: Worse than that, it’s pretty dull. It’s filled with bad acting, bad special effects, and poor choices in pretty much every aspect of its existence. And yet… it’s the most faithful Fantastic Four film ever made.

EC: I’m sorry, what?

NC: The look of the characters is spot on. Their characterization seems to be taken straight out of the Lee/Kirby issues. And even the film’s goofy tone is in keeping with the source material. While I’d even say it’s Marvel’s WORST movie, it’s one of the most faithful page-to-screen live action comic adaptations ever. And I think it also shows why some things might need to be changed during that transition.

UM: For me, it is simultaneously one of the worst and least hateable movies I’ve ever seen. I mean, it’s a wreck on any every level but it’s also a superhero movie made in three weeks for less than the catering budget of Pixels. Douglas Adams once wrote that it’s less impressive to climb a mountain with a broken finger than it is to climb a hill with a perfectly healthy finger but everything else broken, sprained or bitten off by a pack of mad yaks. The hill itself may not be that impressive, but the fact that this thing even exists and is even something that you can look at and say “Yes. That is a movie.” is kind of amazing. And, as we’ve already mentioned, there’s some stuff here that’s genuinely good. The Thing costume is a wonder, Doom is shitmilar to how he is portrayed in the comics, some of the comedic stuff is actually genuinely funny. I’m glad I saw it, though I certainly can’t call it “good”.

Scoring:

Animation: n/a

UM: Well, there is technically some animation, but I don’t think my rating scale goes low enough.

NC: Your rating scale goes down to ZERO.

UM: Yeah.

Leads:

NC: 4/20. I gave them each one point for existing.

UM: But one of those four was Johnny, so I gotta deduct one. But then, I actually sorta liked Ben and Reed so…5/20

Villains:

NC: 4/20. I love me some Doom, despite his outlandish moments. I mean, Joseph Culp has revealed in interviews that he studied the comics and wanted to put all kinds of subtle references to Doom’s background in his performance. And because of that level of professionalism showing if you care to look, I would have said “12.” Were it not for the Jeweller.

UM: Oh man, we gotta count the Jeweller, don’t we? If it was just Doom I’d say “6” but with the Fauxle Man in the mix it’s gotta be 03/20.

Supporting Characters:

UM: Yeesh, talk about a mixed bag. Purely because of the Latverian henchmen I’m going to give the supporting cast a fairly respectably 07/20.

NC: Mmmm… I’m just going to say 10/20 because while the greatness of those two henchmen is balanced out by the blandness of the other supporting characters. Half the credit, even stevens.

Music:

NC: Music: 2/20 I’m pretty sure what isn’t generic is lifted from other sources. Don’t quote me on that, though.

UM: I dunno, I actually found the score to be not half bad so I’m going to give it a 05/20.

FINAL SCORES:

Newt’s: 25%

Mouse’s: 25%

Erik’s: Erik didn’t email me his scores is time. So he gets no score. Let’s hope he learned something from this.

NC: Right, I need to get going. I placated that angry mob by telling them I loved Sherlock, but I have to go before they find out that I hated “Listen.”

“‘Listen’ is the best gol-durn Doctor Who episode in years!”

“‘Listen’ is the best gol-durn Doctor Who episode in years!”

 

NC: Aw, shoot.

UM: Oh, they don’t seem to be too happy with that statement.

NC: Hey, before I run for my life, Mouse…

UM: Yes?

NC: Watch out for Blucatt.

UM: …What?

NC: He’s Don Bluth in disguise, and he’s pretty ticked that you ruined his animation career. Just wanted to give you a heads up. Heard it through the grapevine a little over a year ago; just thought I should mention it.

UM: Huh. Oh look, a shark.

NC: Huh?

Hissssssss!

Hissssssss!

NC: OH FUBHG@VRBFOUGYJKQHVT$FGBWEJVHB!!!

EC: Huh. It is funny when it’s someone else.

UM: Told ya.

NEXT UPDATE: 20 August 2015

NEXT TIME: Oh, you thought Asterix was weird, obscure and European?  You ain’t seen NOTHING yet.

What is this, some kind of albino hippo?

What is this, some kind of albino hippo?

Neil Sharpson aka The Unshaved Mouse is a playwright, blogger and comic book writer living in Dublin. The blog updates with a new animated movie review every second Thursday.

Newt is a reviewer of comic book-based films and TV shows at newtcave.blogspot.com. In his spare time, he can be found painting, writing and occasionally completing the things he paints and writes.

Erik Copper is an American citizen living in Maryland. He loves to write, and look at things with an analytical eye.

 

84 comments

  1. They DO look like albino hippos. But in a tree? Hmmm. Really, really stylized albino squirrels?

    I’ve never seen this version of the Four. And now I’ve got absolutely no reason to do so. I’ve no doubt that your review is far more entertaining than this bit of retain-the-copyrights.

    (My opinion on Moffat in a nutshell is that he can be a genuinely good and clever writer, but he is too aware of his own talent and cleverness and therefore is under the impression that he can write anything and it will still be golden (even when it’s complete diarrhea.) )

  2. You know…I can’t hate this movie. Oh, it is bad. But if you consider how the movie was made, and how much of a budget the movies which followed had…yeah, it actually comes of better imho. At least it tries to tell a story about likable characters which become heroes instead of a bunch of a-holes which constantly cause problems and then are for some reason celebrated for solving what they messed up themselves. Plus, as horrible dated as Sue is in this one, at least she is allowed to keep on her clothes.

    I have been following the dispute between Marvel and Fox for a while, because it is basically a rights-issue and those are always very interesting, and I have to say…I am with Marvel on this one. Fox has done its very best to undermine the F4 and are holding onto a property which has them never giving anything but a headache for the simple reason that they don’t want it back with Marvel.

    BTW: The Amazing Spider-man might have been made for the wrong reasons, but it is still my favourite Spider-man movie so far.

      1. Did you see the sales number for the F4? Even as they announced that they would conclude the series, barely anyone bought the last issue. What the F4 needs is some mainstream exposure to make them cool again. But Marvel doesn’t have that part in their hands because Fox owns the movie rights and keeps f…. it up (Stuckmann just gave this last movie an F. An F!!!!!! And it doesn’t stand for Fant4stic).

  3. Dammit Mouse, I’m sick of your shit! Lately you’ve been reviewing shit nobody has ever heard of, and that trend is continuing into next time! I don’t have to stand for this! I’m leading the revolt against Unshaved Mouse!

    *sings We’re Not Gonna Take It*

    1. You should broaden your world a little bit…if you were living in Europe, you most certainly would know who Asterix is and most likely who the Mumins are, too. So how about joining the informed masses?

      1. But how can that be? I am literally as far from Sweden as it is possible to be and even I know the Moomins.

      2. Fun fact, I was in Stockholm this year and also visited Junibacken. They made a huge deal around the Mumins because some kind of anniversary is coming up.

      3. As a Finn I should point out that the Moomins are actually Finnish. They were originally released in Swedish in Finland because their creator Tove Jansson is a Swedish-speaking Finn.

        And as a Finn I should also mention that I’m absolutely stoked that you’re going to be tackling the Moomins, Mouse.

      4. Interesting…I didn’t know that. Because they made such a fuss around the 25 anniversary in Sweden, I just assumed that they were Swedish (I actually was never THAT interested in the Moomins, which is why I am so surprised that an European claims to not know them…I barely cared and nevertheless know what they are roughly about).

      5. You should try visiting Finland sometimes, swanpride. I can assure that if you thought the Swedes very crazy about the Moomins, you haven’t seen anything yet. The blighters are absolutely everywhere here, anniversary or not.

      6. One day (though certainly not for the Moomins)…what is the point of living in the middle of Europe if you don’t take advantage of it? But Finland is quite far away.

      1. By Ant-man? I liked it. It’s not Winter Soldier or GotG, but it was kind of charming. I wish they had used a little bit less exposition. The movie could have used a little bit more Show instead of Tell.

      2. There were definitely parts that I liked. Really enjoyed the stinger. But the script felt kinda cobbled together from different versions (Pym’s plan to recruit Scott makes zero sense). Also the plucky trio of ethnic comedy sidekicks were a little dodgy.

      3. Well, I loved the idea that the dodgy Mexican small-time gangster spends his time at wine-tastings and art galleries. I agree that at time two visions were fighting with each other, but since I liked what I think was added later better than what I suspect was the original focus of the movie, I left the theatre very happy.

    2. Actually, Mouse I think it’s high time you took on a project to review another Canon. The blog is venturing all over the place now… and Marvel isn’t really a Canon?
      Besides, there is so much more Disney out there! Why not tackle that? Please?
      And BTW how do three people review the same movie at the same time? Do you’ll sit together? Or e-chat? We deserve a behind the scenes video!

      1. The problem is I’m still working my way through the last of the Joanna reviews. So far I’ve tried grouping them together (“this is anime month” etc) but this next one just didn’t fit anywhere else. Good news is, there are THREE Disney movies coming up very soon. Gotta disagree with you on the MCU movies not being a canon, they’re IN canon with each other after all.

      2. As for how three people review a movie together over three timezones? Common Google document that we share and edit whenever we can. Newt actually did most of the work on this one because I was on holiday and Erik was in work. He wrote the breakdown of the plot and then Erik and I wrote in whatever gags we could think of. A behind the scenes video would consist of the three of us typing in silence and would be very dull.

  4. No shit, people I know and respect call this the best FF movie they’ve ever seen. Goddammit, were the Tim Story movies really *that* bad?

    And on the subject of Moffat… well, literally my only experience with Doctor Who is those comics Alan Moore wrote back in the day for the magazine, but I liked Sherlock well enough, even though I think that Moffat and Gatiss would be much happier writing the next Bond movie.

  5. I have never seen a Fantastic 4 movie, but I am think this sounds better than the 2004 version, since I mostly enjoy/dislike a movie based off the main characters. I also really like low budget movies.
    How many sharks do you keep around?

      1. As far as I\m compared, nothing compares to the Swedish version, which by the way is sung in a really thick Fenno/Swedish accent. Then again, the whole damn show is done in that accent, because the writer Tove Jansson was Fenno/Swedish.

    1. Fant4stic has a lower score on Rotten Tomatoes than Pixels. PIXELS. Also, I’m glad the inside of this shark has wi-fi.

      1. The one reviewed above has a better rotten tomato score than the new one 33 to 7. Of course whether a movie is good or not is about opinion.

  6. The entirety of my knowledge of The Moomins:

    * It’s a Swedish book series with tons of adaptations, a surprising amount of which are Japanese.

    * In one cartoon adaptation, a monster called The Groke gave plenty of kids nightmares.

    * At one point, Moomin-papa suffers a mid-life crisis and moves his family to a lighthouse.

    1. As I just learned, the author is actually from finland.
      And there are countless Japanese adaptations of European children’s books…The Little Princess, Heidi, Treasure Island, the three Musketeers, if it is a good story there is an anime about it.

      1. It is true that Tove Jansson was from Finland, but she also was a part of the Swedish speaking minority in that country (which now is some 5 % of the Finnish population).

  7. Let’s be honest. I love the Fantastic Four, but are they really a property that can be translated to film properly? Go too silly and nobody will take it seriously, but the FF are supposed to be fun heroes so if you make it too serious you take out a part of the characters that made them iconic. What do we do?!

      1. Here’s hoping they pull a Spider-Man and put the F4 in the MCU. They could slip them in around the time the first Ant-Man was operating.

      2. And they could even tie the accident into the rest of the MCU by having Reed’s spaceship integrate the Tesseract after the death of Howard Stark in an attempt to create warp drive or something. Something goes wrong, they zap through the N-Zone, boom. Fantastic Four. Yadda yadda, they save the world from an N-Zone invasion, something goes wrong with the Time Stone, they find themselves transported to the present where they adjust much better than Captain America did due to their familiarity with the weirder parts of the MCU.

        And when a certain Latverian monarch decides that he can go back in time and change the past so that HE was the scientist who got to experiment with the Tesseract (after seeing its potential in The Avengers), he comes into conflict with the Four.

        Or we could hope that the sequel to Fant4stic is good, I guess.

    1. My personal thoughts: animation is the only “real” solution, since it allows for the baseline of silliness and yet gives you plenty of room for seriousness (see: That Other Show).

      Actually, I’m of the opinion that most, if not all, superhero adaptations would work best as animation, because most superhero comics have a baseline silliness that can easily turn into a dealbreaker in live-action. Even Nolan’s Batman films kind of flirted with this – praise Ledger’s Joker and Oldman’s Gordon all you want, but I broke out in giggles every time Bale stepped on-screen in that ridiculous costume with that “WHERE ARE DUH DRUGS GOING?!?” voice.

      1. I completely agree. And of course the Incredibles, (in my opinion) Megamind, and the DCU animated movies shows just how much can be done in an animated medium that can’t be done in live-action. Also, WHEREISHEEEEEEEE???!!!!!!!!!!

    2. The F4 are no more silly than any other superhero. I mean, characters with spider powers, a man in a bat suit, another with his underwear outside and one named Ant-Man whose sole power is to change size have all been adapted. Hell, we’ve had The Incredibles, which is very much the F4 except in name. So yeah, it’s very possible to adapt the F4. I think the main problem is that they are a team, so you have four superheroes, each with their own stunts and their own special effects. It’s the reason why Avengers movies are so far in-between. You can’t make a superhero team movie without the budget and the time, something that F4 has lacked.

      1. Honestly, they don’t have secret identities, they’re hugely famous and they keep on doing pretty much what they did before after the accident instead of putting on a mask and beating up muggers. It’s one of the realistic depictions of what would happen if someone got super powers.

      2. I think the main problem is that Fox seems to think that the F4 are first and foremost a Superhero team which they are actually a family of explorers.

  8. Whoa, yikes! Never knew South America was that vicious. Though if I had Bahia on me for that long, I guess I’d be too. Speaking of biting, I was wondering how Erik managed to get out of that shark you fed him to in one piece. Apparently he’s the Jonah of WordPress. Quite the honour, I take it. Too bad he didn’t manage to forewarn you and Newt of the fire and brimstone Corman was going to unleash on the world wide web for sinfully taking this unreleased Ark of madness and displaying it to the masses. Eep. And on the subject of Marvel characters and toys, I think I’m maddest at Sony for being that kid who keeps putting Marvel’s toy in their mouth so Marvel can’t have it back. The constant reboots to keep a hold on this thing are getting tiresome, if you ask me. And I think everyone can be glad Bernd didn’t decide to pull a Boll on Fantastic Four and deliberately release a terrible movie. That just might have stomped any chances of moviegoers taking the Fantastic Four seriously flat.

    Well, Erik, you’ve earned yourself an Emily Axford-style bubble-spewing hi-five from me, at least. That star joke cracked me up. Loved Newt’s haiku as well. Hmm, that bit about Erik’s being edited into the review isn’t a reference to what happened to Von Doom in the Silver Surfer, is it? Or am I missing something here? In any case, someone needs to get back to Entomology 101, spiders don’t have penises, only harvestmen do. Plus, that machine is totally The Claw from Toy Story.

    Funny How To Train Your Dragon bit there. Though it seems that being a guy who plays a boy that flies is a pretty easy way to land yourself in mediocre-acting-ville. Though apparently this guy’s not helping things by pulling a Danny Cat. Loved the zinger with the Storms’ mom being the one to name them here. And wait a minute, snark gun? Since when do you have a license to hunt snarks, Mister?!? I’ll have you know I happen to know a few, and I just may warn them if any snark bait shows up.

  9. Don’t worry, Newt, I’m utterly awful at telling an Irish accent from certain British ones. Once you get far enough north or sometimes even close enough to Wales, everything gets blurry to my Canuck ears. It’s kind of painful, really. Though I did think nothing was worse than the bees in Ireland. I take it they must be an utter nightmare, or else those sheep are just bluffers. And yeah, I was about to ask about Batman regarding the two-enemy approach, seeing as the beloved Dark Knight did that and turned out just fine.

    Ok, I seriously take offence to that insult you delivered to the Thing. Come on, he’s nowhere near as ugly as Donald, not in a long shot! You take that back, you mean caption thing! Hmm, Europe’s line makes me wonder how he feels about Von Doom owning part of him. Probably bitter. Like he feels about everything. And I’m honestly surprised that the Alicia-changing-Ben-back scene didn’t prompt a Beauty and the Beast zinger from you. Sounds like the kind of thing to.

    I’ve got to say, that hand bit was a thing of genius. I wonder if that semi Jack-in-the-box character from Toy Story is on the hook as well. And blast it all, those clever hands. This is as bad as when the Queen of Hearts’s execution order for the Cheshire Cat failed because it’s impossible to chop off a head that doesn’t have a body. Disembodied parts are the bane of Lady Justice!! Also, wow, Newt. I haven’t heard a late-train warning this bad since Hiss tried to out a disguised Robin Hood to the Prince. Man. Also, Moomins!!! …Wow, I sure am familiar with a lot of these obscure European stuff. Apparently, I’m pretty lucky being in the loop.

  10. Yikes, Fan4stic isn’t looking too good for the critics or the people who gave it a chance. Some are calling it the Green Lantern of 2015. I wasn’t crazy about the film beforehand but it seemed to turn out much worse than I thought.

  11. Amazing how the new one ended up being the worst of them.
    Damn, they DO keep getting worse!

    Thank god for The Incredibles.

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