Review: Fantastic Four

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After directing the fantastic Chronicle, everyone was incredibly excited by Josh Trank taking the reins of a new Fantastic Four but behind the scenes drama, apparently tons of interference from Fox and other factors have led to one of the weakest superhero movies in recent memory.

Supposedly based mostly on the Ultimate Fantastic Four, Miles Teller plays Reed Richards, whose literal science fair project draws the attention of Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey), who recruits Reed to join the Baxter Foundation and help develop a way to travel to another dimension.  Also on the project are Dr. Storm’s adopted daughter Sue (Kate Mara), his son Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) and Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell).  The group eventually does get the technology working and goes to the other dimension (sans Sue in one of many just utterly bizarre plot decisions) where they get strange new powers.  In place of Sue, Reed invites his childhood friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), who becomes the ever loving Thing (although he’s more like the suicidallly depressed Thing).  There’s so many terrible, inexplicable plot mechanations and they all lead to one of the worst final battles ever in a superhero movie.  The Four barely use their powers and when they finally have a chance to unleash their full potentail, they are immediately neutralized by a hilariously terrible looking Doom.  There’s the barest sliver of cool uses of everyone’s powers (the US military sends Ben on missions we never see) but they are mostly just moping around in various non-description bunkers.  There’s none of the goofy fun of the Fantastic Four from the comics and the movie’s biggest sin is that it’s just boring.

The cast of Fantastic Four is almost universally great but they are given pretty much nothing to do, especially after they get their powers and are just angrily depressed.  Sue and Johnny feel like they just met instead of being siblings, Johnny has maybe one scene with Ben, so there’s none of their banter and Reed and Sue’s relationship is built up a bit before their accident and then never mentioned again, probably because there’s an utterly ridiculous plot point with Reed where he disappears for a year.  Reg E. Cathey almost brings some legitimacy through sheer force of will but even he can’t save terrible lines and scenes.  The only bright spot is Tim Blake Nelson, who gets to ham it up as the team’s government liaison.

There’s almost nothing to talk about regarding action because the only major scene is the finale, which feels incredibly rushed and tacked on.  The only moderately cool scene involving powers is when Doom arrives back on Earth and telepathically starts blowing up the heads of everyone in Area 57 (that’s not a typo).  Actually, when the four first get their powers and are completely unable to control them, that entire sequence has a kind of Cronebergesque, body transformation feel as Reed is unable to reel his limbs back in, Ben has to painfully rebuild his body from a pile of rocks, etc.  It’s a cool idea that is completely glossed over with a fade to black/time jump, which happens quite frequently and is probably a result of the studio putting the movie on the chopping block in the editing room.

Fantastic Four is not the worst superhero movie ever made but it’s incompetence is not acceptable in a post MCU/Dark Knight Trilogy world.  If it had come out in the early 2000’s, it probably would have been regarded as one of the better movies of that dark time but with the bar raised so high for the superhero genre now, it’s not worth wasting time on.

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