The movie this time is “The Fantastic Four” from 1994. Full disclosure: I watched this movie with my friend Josh, so some of the jokes may be his. We were both drinking, it’s hard to keep track. This movie has a sad history; according to reports published after the movie was completed the producers who held the movie rights to Marvel’s Fantastic Four had to start working on a film by the end of 1992 to hold onto those rights. They hired Roger Corman- notorious for low-budget B movies- to get things going cheaply and they started on December 31, 1992. No one ever told the director or the actors that this was simply a placeholder and the movie was never meant to see a release. Ultimately it was scrapped the dustbin of movie history and I decided to sweep up. But first I needed to start with a shot of vodka as drink #1.
I didn’t know the full history behind this movie before I started, so the first thing I’m greeted with is what looks like a really bad VHS copy of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos recorded from PBS sometime before the collapse of the Berlin Wall. This is the best available copy of the film because it never got a proper transfer and the originals are said to have been burned. The movie starts with about 5 minutes of credits over what appear to be concept art stills from better sci-fi movies. I’m guessing they put as many of the credits in the front as possible because they figured no one would stick around to see the end of the movie.
I’ve already finished most of drink #2, vodka and orange juice, by the time the movie gets around to the character introductions. They keep them pretty simple and effective for the most part, but one thing the movie holds onto from the comics is that while Sue is younger than Reed, she has a crush on him while he’s in college and she’s in middle school. It was creepy in the comics and isn’t canon any longer and it’s extra creepy on film. The introductions briskly move along because Reed and Victor (the man who will be Doom) build some sort of contraption to harness cosmic energy and it blows up in Victor’s face. Reed’s told that Victor is dead later at the hospital, but wait! Those weren’t doctors they were Victor’s cronies and he’s actually alive, even though we had no idea Victor had cronies in the first place.
The movie jumps ahead 10 years and Reed wants to go space with Ben. A lot of the movie’s dialog is muddled because the audio track is absolute shit. Not hearing it is probably better than trying to make sense of it, and I’m on drink #3 already- vodka and soda water. We now have an age-appropriate Sue Storm, who’s also going to space and her brother Johnny tags along even though he’s been replaced by a cardboard cutout of a character. Before they take off the movie introduces Alicia Masters- a deep cut for an origin story movie- who is a blind sculptor that falls in love with Ben Grimm pre-space explosion.
The crux of Reed’s spaceship thing is a big ol’ crystal. For science reasons. But some leprechaun looking thing decides to steal it. I’m not sure how he knows they even have it, but we see Doom in silhouette watching the little guy steal it and swap it with a big ol’ cubic zirconia. Before the space flight we’re treated to spinning newspapers. That’s two movies in a row that use spinning newspapers, which has to be some sort of record for awful. In space the fake crystal fails to do things and the crew is bombarded with space…science…stuff. And they crash to earth.
They quickly find out they have powers and are picked up by the United States government who keeps them locked up for observation. I should point out that The Thing’s makeup actually looks pretty decent for a movie that was made with no budget, and for a guy on drink #4 (vodka tonic for those playing at home). Reed’s stretching looks worse but thankfully they don’t use it that often. same with Johnny’s fire. While they’re locked up the leprechaun thing (villain name: The Jeweler) decides to abduct Alicia. I’m not sure why, and I don’t think he’s 100% sure either. It’s just supposed to be this way. The Fantastic Four decide to bust out of their government holding because they’re good citizens who in no way could be infected with some space disease. But they find out the government hasn’t been holding them, it’s been Doctor Doom! Who they know is Victor. A lot of stuff is glossed over. A fight ensues, The Thing is now bulletproof instead of just being made of rock, and after a star wipe done with a large 4 they’re back in Reed’s building.
The Thing decides to go wandering around New York City because he feels bad about looking like a giant scab. No one goes after him but the dude’s bulletproof, what’s the worst that could happen? He stumbles on the Jeweler’s band of misfits who take him in only for him to discover Alicia being held captive. While he’s fighting the Jeweler’s guys, Doom busts in on the Jeweler to steal back the crystal he stole in act one, or act two, or maybe act three if this movie has seven acts. It’s really hard to tell because there’s no pacing to it. At some point during the three-way fight Doom takes Alicia hostage because he’s a dick and Ben turns human. He runs away like a true hero.
Doom, in full super-villain mode, announces his plans to the Fantastic Four and tells them to come to him. His big plan is to take their powers from them and channel them into himself. It doesn’t work and a protracted fight scene straight out of Adam West’s “Batman” ensues. Doom launches some super laser towards New York City and Johnny flies after it to cut it off. Never mind that a laser would travel at the speed of light and in a straight line, this one might be a budget model that goes slower and curves back down to earth. While Johnny is flying after it Reed punches Doom off his castle (second movie to knock the bad guy off his own castle, too). Johnny punches the laser and it blows up in space I guess. It looked like they were just roughing out the graphics for that part to fill in later, but later never came. Everyone’s happy at the end of the movie and Reed and Sue get married in a double wedding with Ben and Alicia, and I want to crawl inside that bottle of vodka and forget any of this ever happened.
- This movie actually employed some decent actors. They’re all journeyman character actors that had been in the industry for a while before and after the film. I feel bad that their names are attached to it. The guy who played Reed even did interviews about the movie, never knowing it was going to end up locked away forever.
- The director seemed to know that this was pretty much just a screen test and thought if it did well they’d do a proper movie. It does have the feel of a made-for-TV movie pilot for a possible superhero sitcom.
- The movie sticks fairly close to the comics, which is a good and a bad thing. Overall, it’s about on the same level as the newer one with Jessica Alba and Michael Chiklis, and that one had an actual budget.
- This was made 2 years after Jurassic Park. There’s no excuse for effects like the ones in the movie to exist.
Bottom Line: Don’t watch this movie. The quality is poor and it’s painfully dull. I watched it fairly drunk with a friend and still thought about turning it off and doing literally anything else.
I’ll be back in a little while to do another awful movie. It might be “Steel” featuring Steel Reserve. That’s technically a malt liquor so it doesn’t count as beer. Remember you can tweet to my beautiful face @CaptJohnstarr, or leave a comment below.