Fan4tastic (2015)

Ayo someone fucked with your movie, and now there’s no movie.

Beginning. Middle. End. Characters, growth, change, relationships. Humanity, connection, failure. Two hours, two hundred million dollars. Make it happen. That’s the basic formula to any blockbuster ensemble movie from the past ten years. Fan4tastic is only seven years old. Do you know what else was happening seven years ago? Obama. Antman. Ultron. Jurassic World. Not a lot of tough competition for attention. What happened to this movie to make it such a shitshow?

Also, I’m spelling it Fan4tastic because it’s less stupid than Fant4stic. So word of warning, this review is just me talking about how this thing is so fundamentally broken that it’s essentially just an expensive video released in theaters and not a movie.

The story

The video follows three acts that get consecutively shorter and shorter. There’s six main characters: four heroes, one villain, and their old man mentor. That’s not a tall order. Yet, none of these characters are characters, they’re caricatures. Plot devices to progress the story. But… what’s the story? 

Fan4tastic doesn’t talk about the future, it’s about the present, but also doesn’t talk about anything at all. It’s just some smart people building a thing, getting drunk, making a bad decision, and then a year later, rectifying that mistake by throwing some rocks at it. That’s the movie. There’s only one action set in the movie, which is absolutely embarrassing for a superhero movie.

So where did it all go? Why do we spend so much time fucking around with unpowered teenagers? They don’t get enough time to grow individually, establish flaws, motivations or connections between characters. Reed and Ben have some connection, but the emotional effect diminished greatly by the fact that Ben is played by three actors across his extremely limited appearance in the movie. Once as a kid, then as a teen, then as a rock monster. It’s pretty fricken hard to care for a character if we don’t get to spend any time with them. 

Reed similarly suffers from this disconnect in his character. Miles Teller gets a chance to really develop the character’s nuances or mannerisms as he’s definitely the main character. Then there’s a time jump after he runs from the base, and then climax. There are some moments of generic growth, none of which are earned. There’s some bullshit about teamwork but we’ve done that already. Teamwork as character growth is now a cliche, and realistically, it’s extremely juvenile for adults to not work together when there’s a world ending threat. 

Johnny Storm gets a generic set of moments as well. The rebellious, begrudging jerk with daddy issues gets to… what? He throws some fireballs in the CGI fest at the end, but whatever set up they had for his character doesn’t get paid off.

Then there’s Sue Storm, played by the criminally underutilized Kata Mara, who is.

The Editing

Something went very fundamentally wrong here. Someone told the writers they needed x, y and z beats, and that led to a drawn out, choppy complicated story that didn’t even accomplish x, y and z. Without even researching it, I’m confident that they filmed or planned to film, something coherent, and then somewhere after the halfway mark, realized they needed to change direction entirely, leading to a work that does nothing and accomplishes nothing.

This movie demonstrates how poor editing can ruin a film, and why it’s important to let movies be stories at their core to function at all. Interference in this backbone can splinter a film..

After the prologue, the plot jumps 7 years, montages through some time, then jumps 1 year, directly to the climax. They may have grown, but we don’t see it. They may have desires, but we don’t see them. They exist as a series of images of individuals, instead of people.

You can shoot a movie that jumps between time periods, but those are higher concept films, movies that explore concepts or characters on a deeper level. Their jumps in time (forward or backwards) serve a point in the story, and help to thread together characters’ relationships. These time jumps did nothing but act as a crutch for a poor story.

The Bad Guy

Ok then there’s this chucklefuck. I don’t know what it is, but comic book movies have a supremely difficult time crafting impactful or meaningful villains, and that’s because of a plethora of reasons. Not everyone can be Loki or Thanos, sometimes they’re Eisenberg’s Luthor or Leto’s Joker. Nevertheless, a convincing, impactful antagonist needs to be a foil to the protagonist’s values. Even if Reed has no values or desires, we could have had values or desires for Von Doom. 

You can argue that Von Doom values Earth? Something about the evil institutions in place? Sue, definitely. Those are fine desires and motivations, if they’d mattered at the end of the film. Sure, Dr. Doom the CGI horror show did want to destroy Earth to recreate his own world, and it’s fine if he didn’t try to turn Sue into his trophy, but this change occurs off screen.A weak hero character can be redeemed by a strong villain character, and there was potential with letting Von Doom steal the screen. Then they did this. 

For all the test marketing or statistical bullshit they must have put this movie through, I have no idea how they overlooked the fact that Von Doom looks like a four year old’s play dough recreation of 2005’s Von Doom. It’s literally polished turd. Nevermind that his powers are never explored or explained, nevermind the very glaring plot hole of him limping and being brought back to Earth, only to saunter back to his planet. It’s goofy. It’s just so goofy. 

Conclusion

As with so much else in this movie, the important stuff happens off screen. That’s such a failure to understand how film even works, that it’s confounding. Movies are about showing not telling. You can’t tell your audiences what’s going on for it to matter, otherwise they’d just go listen to an audiobook. This issue plagues nearly every character, because we just don’t see anything that matters. In fact, even what we see doesn’t matter.

I have a habit of watching shit movies and then tearing them apart, but I honestly find these movies so enlightening as to all the ways you can do this genre wrong. It makes the good stuff easier to appreciate when you do see it. I don’t wish Fan4tastic was better, I just wish they’d made the movie they’d initially set out to make, or scrapped it and made the other one they wanted to make, instead of the shittiest half of both of them. 2/10. This movie is just sad. It’s so sad. You should get drunk while watching this movie, it’s the only way it’s bearable, but even then. 

Don’t bother trying to watch this, but for the sadistic, it’s currently wasting bandwith on Hulu, Disney+ and SlingTV.

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