"It's Clobbering Time. For Real!"
That line sums up a big problem the 1994 unreleased Fantastic Four film has. It's lame. It really is. It has it's moments where some fun can be had but at the end of the day it's a really lame effort. And the main reason behind it's lameness is the fact that it's a Roger Corman production and it was made for a budget of 4 cents. If it had just 4 million dollars to work with or even a couple million it might have been something special. But despite all of that? It at least doesn't feel like a film that had no purpose behind it. For a movie that was only made on the cheap to help Corman keep the rights? It has a certain charm to it. Not enough to save it by any means, but a charm nonetheless.
The biggest problem for me with this Fantastic Four other than the budget is the sheer amount of padding this film has. The director looks like he is shooting two different movies. One that is actually somewhat entertaining about the Fantastic Four and Dr. Doom and a really boring one about the Jeweler wanting to find a new queen in Alicia Masters. It takes about 50 minutes before anything really happens, and by then you are so annoyed by the film dicking with you for so long that whatever action does happen barely gets your pulse racing. And Doom himself to me was also a big negative. Sure he looked the part and his appearance in this film is still the closest to his comic book roots, but the performance was downright terrible. It was hammy, it was over the top and it was laughable. This Doom was about as intimidating as Lord Helmet from Spaceballs. He was that ridiculous to me. Laughing all the time like a total goof, and making unnecessary awkward hand motions all the time. I mean in one scene I swear to god he is making Jazz Hands. I don't care if you are Doctor Doom or not. No one makes Jazz Hands intimidating. And the actor who played him Joseph Culp? Is a terrible actor. There was not one moment I took the character seriously because his performance was so awful. And the low low budget effects definitely hurt the film a lot as well. In some scenes you don't even see an action scene. You just see the camera spin around for a few seconds. And the CGI on the Human Torch is honestly some of the worst effects I have ever seen. It didn't look good in 94 and it certainly does not hold up well now in 2015. And Jay Underwood's performance was a flaming pile of dog shit as well. This film's sense of humor is pretty shitty as well. Way too many groaner moments like the stupid lame crap with the doctor trying to get blood samples from the four.
But the film isn't all bad. Alex Hyde White's performance as Mr. Fantastic is actually fairly fantastic to be honest. There are some moments where his line delivery is a bit flat but the actor definitely had a passion for his role and it shows. Rebecca Staab also does a fine job as Sue Storm and Michael Bailey Smith does a solid job as Ben Grimm. And speaking of Ben, the makeup effects of The Thing by Optic Nerve are really great for what little budget the film had to work with. It still holds up rather well to this day. And I did enjoy the sequences with The Thing clobbering henchmen. I even liked the scenes where The Thing is out on the streets on his own. There was definitely emotion behind those scenes that definitely registered for me. I liked the idea of Ben being an outsider and how the film handled that. I didn't care for the romance between him and Alicia though. Mainly because the actress Kat Green was so flat she might as well be a block of wood, but most of The Thing sequences I didn't mind. Some of the acting in some of the scenes by Carl Ciarfalio as The Thing were a bit too stiff for my tastes as was the line dubbing by Michael Bailey Smith but overall it was solid as a rock, especially considering what little the filmmakers had to work with. The costume design was also pretty decent. Yeah the costumes looked like they were homemade. But that's what they were. And they looked like they did in the comics so that didn't bother me. And one thing I really love about this film is the score by David & Eric Wurst. Especially the main title. I think it's an underrated sonic gem. That bit of music is the best part of the film for me. The film even had some crowd pleasing moments as well. Like when Reed punches Doom at the end. I liked the line of dialogue he had there.
Reed Richards: "This is for trying to kill me." Reed punches Doom.
Reed Richards: "This is for trying to kill my friends"
Reed punches Doom again.
Reed Richards: "And this is for being a jerk." Reed punches Doom off the side of the castle.
That scene got a little chuckle and even a bit of a cheer from yours truly. This is a film that you really want to root for given it's reputation. The film despite it's flaws has an endearing quality to it. It really does make you wonder how much better the film would have been with higher production values, better writing, better directing and some better performances. And if it was given a chance in the first place. It's a flawed Fantastic Four but it isn't entirely without it's merits. But it's ultimately a fantastic fail despite it's best efforts.
**out of five stars