In the years since its production Roger Corman's Fantastic Four has gained a level of infamy among comic-book fans, but if this documentary proves anything it's that this misguided attempt at an adaptation is more than just a punchline. Bringing together almost all of the major players involved in Corman's feature, Doomed offers a comprehensive guide as to how 1994's The Fantastic Four came into being. Starting from the conception of the idea and its arrival at the desk of Roger Corman, this documentary goes on to chronicle the film's casting, principal photography, promotion, post-production, and of course its inevitable shelving.
Where Doomed is most effective is in its ability to get you emotionally invested in the story of this absurd feature. Many of those attached to the project were blissfully unaware that the film was never intended for release, to them this was a chance to bring some much-beloved comic-book characters to the big screen in the best way they could on a miniscule budget; ironically, those closest to the 1994 film show a genuine enthusiasm for the source material that seemed to be lacking in the eventual big-budget incarnations of Marvel's First Family. That's what makes this situation all the more heartbreaking. The revelation that the movie had been made purely as a way for the studio to get through a loop-hole in their contract caught almost everyone completely off-guard, not only dashing their hopes that this would be a big break for each of their respective careers but also packing the added punch that not a single person would get to see their hard work. Of course, the movie has since been illegally reproduced but to this day is yet to see an official release.
Doomed is without a doubt the definitive resource for information on this story, but the documentary itself isn't executed flawlessly. Certainly some parts of this story are more interesting than others, and as a result there were a few points about halfway through where it lost a little momentum. This wasn't helped by the broader issue that Doomed feels somewhat generic, adopting the standard talking heads format so common in documentaries these days while failing to offer a distinctive voice or bring anything new to the table. Doomed is still an enjoyable watch particularly for those wanting the inside story on Corman's production, but given the intrigue that has surrounded this Fantastic Four movie for the last two decades it would have been nice to see the story behind it told in a more memorable way.
it is, Doomed is a very competent retelling of a strange series of events but
one which might struggle to stand out from the crowd, and perhaps isn't
destined to find an audience outside of the niche community of comic-book fans
to whom Corman's feature has become well-known.
DOOMED: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ROGER CORMAN'S FANTASTIC FOUR / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: MARTY LANGFORD / STARRING: ROGER CORMAN, CARL CIARFALIO, JOSEPH CULP, JONATHAN FERNANDEZ, REBECCA STAAB / RELEASE DATE: TBC