After teleporting to an alternate universe where their physical forms are dangerously altered, Reed Richards (Miles Teller), Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), Sue Storm (Kate Mara), and Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) must learn to control their powers and use them to stop Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) from destroying the Earth.
That’s it, Fox. I’m tired of you screwing up the Marvel properties you currently possess. I know it’s complicated because of legal contracts, but for the love of god please hand them over to Disney, the way Sony did when they realized they royally screwed up The Amazing Spider-Man.
Considering how low the bar was set for a Fantastic Four reboot, the odds of coming out on top were in your favor. But no. You and director Josh Trank made a shitty movie. A shittier movie than the 2005 version starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, and Michael Chiklis. Somehow, you’re making me look fondly on that movie despite how low-budget and cheesy it is. At least that movie was fun and had characters with some charm. This movie did none of that for me.
I’ve never witnessed a superhero movie that so openly loathes being a superhero movie. That’s probably why the movie spends 95% of its time establishing the setting and 5% half-assing the characters and plot. I’m serious when I say the first half of this film is a boring montage of Reed Richards doing science shit (a technical term) until he grows up and starts doing science shit in the Baxter building with the rest of the team. So, hey, if you’ve ever wanted to watch a movie where a bunch of people with the combined charisma of a cardboard box build a teleportation machine, this is your movie.
A big component of the Fantastic Four’s backstory is their scientific work, which leads them to the accident that gives them their superpowers. But backstory isn’t plot. Most plots drop the “event that upsets the world in which the characters live” within the first or second chapter to kick off the rising action that eventually leads to the climax (which, under normal circumstances, would be the big hero vs. villain showdown). Fantastic Four, however, decides to throw its plot curveball halfway into the movie, rush the rising action, and then give us ten minutes of yawn-worthy climax. Never mind that people paid to see superheros, not machine-building.
Worse than the lack of plot movement and outright hatred of the genre it’s part of, the movie is all gloom and doom with no heart or badassery to balance it out. At least when the Warner Bros/DC Comics films go all nihilistic on us, they have the decency to give us realistic stunts and kick-ass action sequences. Nope. Fantastic Four didn’t even have those. It’s just “serious” without giving us deep musings about life, science, power, etc. In other words, it’s boring.
And that’s what sucks because the characters also have that Marvel banter that makes them fun and interesting (like The Avengers). It’s not like the movie didn’t have the opportunity to show that off. Miles Teller is an awesome actor (and a bit of a dick in real life) who could’ve played with Reed Richards’ personality more. After all, Richards is awkward yet charming and a great leader. We didn’t see that, though.
Michael B. Jordan had what I consider the best role out of the entire group with Johnny Storm, who’s the cocky asshole we all love. But Jordan didn’t get to touch that AT ALL thanks to the angsty writing (which makes me mad because I bet all of the racists who didn’t want him to have the role will now use this to argue against casting a black actor in a white role).
Then there’s Jamie Bell and Kate Mara. Bell was barely in the movie. I think he spoke three or four lines with a few grumbles here and there. He didn’t even have a chance to interact with Teller beyond the beginning of the movie. How can you develop the friendship between Ben Grimm and Reed Richards when you’re not around? Or the love-hate back-and-forth with Johnny Storm (which is the best dynamic).
And poor Mara got screwed HARD. She came across cold and bland, which I fault Trank for since he apparently didn’t want to work with her (because word is he’s a major douche). Also, her Sue Storm wasn’t even on the planet when the other FF team members got their powers (She got hers from a blast when they reentered the lab, which is total bullshit). Hell, Mara didn’t even get a “girlfriend” role, which, while demeaning, would’ve at least given her more to do.
As for Dr. Doom…laughable. Not only did he look like the Iron Giant and Lite-Brite had a mutant offspring (so not scary at all), but he also only got to villain (Yes, I’m using it as a verb) for the last ten minutes of the movie. Gee, I wonder if he’ll beat the “heroes” in a fight that even the screenwriters didn’t care enough about to make intense, let alone last longer than a mouse fart. God, this movie sucks.
Overall, Fantastic Four is none of these things: a good Fantastic Four movie, a good Fox superhero movie, a good superhero movie, a good movie. It was a waste of my time and money. And, to be honest, I’d much rather watch the 2005 campy and ridiculous version because at least that movie was fun and had people behind it who liked comic books. This movie hates itself almost as much as the critics hate it.
Also, now that I’ve had the weekend to reflect on the movie, I’m changing my initial grade of “C” to “D+” because, yes, it was that bad.
Fantastic Four: D+
For my radio review of Fantastic Four on “Pat & JT in the Morning,” visit this link (starts around the 25:34 mark).