By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 5.5 out of 10
The collective Marvel Cinematic and DC Universes have spoiled moviegoers over the last seven years. Formerly a genre that was rife with misfires such as Daredevil, Elektra and Batman & Robin, films such as Iron Man, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy have helped redefine the expectations for the superhero genre. It is for this reason why the reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise fails so miserably. Unable to present a cohesive plot, Fantastic Four falls apart on several levels with disappointing characters, an awfully paced plot and some truly awful story decisions.
Reed Richards (Miles Teller), Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), Sue Storm (Kate Mara) and Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) are given powers after a failed mission to another dimension. The four learn how to use their powers and are soon put to the test when Doctor Doom (Toby Kebbell) puts the entire planet into harm’s way.
Teller, Bell, Mara and Jordan have all shown that they have the chops to be great pieces in the Fantastic Four universe, but they simply don’t have the opportunity to show how well they can dive into their characters. From the outset of the film, the movie moves at an absurd speed, taking forever for the pieces to come together for a completely lackluster third act. This comes at a cost, as the four actors are forced into exposition-laced dialogue and have character traits that simply make no sense.
We see that Johnny likes to street race, that Susan is adopted from Kosovo and needs music to think, Reed is unable to make romantic advances and Ben works at a junkyard. Oh, and you also find out that Victor von Doom is creepily attracted to Susan. Never before did I think that I would be begging for Chris Evans or Michael Chiklis to hop on camera and show some much-needed character, but I found myself thinking exactly that early on during Fantastic Four.
The opening stanza of Fantastic Four isn’t awful, but once the four acquire their powers, the movie takes a turn for the worse. First, the film skips ahead a year, to which we come back and see that the characters have already learned how to use their powers and are doing so on a regular basis.
It’s a stunning turn because it takes the best aspects out of the origin story, seeing these characters develop after they have acquired their abilities and the battle they have before realizing that they are, in fact, heroes. As soon as this reveal occurred it was easy to see the writing on the wall, as the third act is nothing short of a disaster, culminating in the worst payoff to a superhero movie yet.
One key component for the movie’s failure to deliver in the third act is the attention given to Dr. Doom. This is not the fault of Kebbell, who we have seen can play the villain properly; if you need a point of reference, watch his turn as Koba in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. However, he is given absolutely nothing to work with in Fantastic Four, essentially diluted to a cookie-cutter villain who shows up late in the movie and is severely mishandled. Doom shows up, spews exposition, kills people with absolutely no rhyme or reason, then clashes with the heroes in the predictable final battle. It’s all so regimented and predictable that it gives viewers the feeling like FOX is questioning their intelligence by placing this dumb course of events in front of us.
The entire film has the feeling of a movie that was made just because it could. No desire to make a high-quality movie, no reason to make a FOX film that is equitable or one that is comparable to the outstanding X-Men franchise, Fantastic Four has the feel of a film made by a studio that is afraid of losing one of its remaining licenses to superhero movies. Throughout the film is just a lazy sense of care, as it is obvious when the re-shoots occurred, just looking at the acne or facial hair on Teller or the color of Mara’s hair throughout the movie makes the reshot scenes blatantly obvious. It’s almost laughable and definitely upsetting how little dedication FOX seemingly put into this film that cost over $100 Million to make.
Simply put, there is so much more to vet regarding this film, but it can be boiled down to a simple fact; don’t waste your time. Fantastic Four is easily the biggest disappoint of the summer. The trailers and commercials are not indicative of this colossal train wreck, as a slow-paced opening stanza gives way for a final act that specializes in the ridiculous and lacks any small shred of mediocrity. Save your money or go watch Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Let’s all hope that FOX loses their Fantastic Four creative license and Marvel Studios gets a chance to make their first family a proper feature film.