I’m all in for a good origin story, and I understand the need for one in films, especially when it follows a poor version of a particular series. Sorry Tim Story, but if you want to feel better watch “Batman and Robin”. Starting off with a clean slate is something that appeals to most major studios, and in the case of 20th Century Fox, a new, young, and fresh take on the 50 plus year old comic book series Fantastic Four was sorely needed in the golden age of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
So how does this one measure up to reboots like “Batman Begins”, and “The Amazing Spider-Man”? Did it stretch it out too long? Did it start off rocky? Did it heat things up? Did we see right through it? Or was it all gloom and doom? Okay, now that I got the puns out of my system, on with the review proper.
Reed Richards is a child genius who has a dream of inventing the first teleportation device. With the help of his buddy Ben Grimm they spend their youth struggling to make their device work. As young men Reed (Miles Teller) and Ben (Jamie Bell) meet Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) and his children Sue (Kate Mara) and Johnny ( Michael B. Jordan), who offer Reed a chance to make his teleportation dream a reality. With the reluctant help of Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) the group create a machine that can transport them to another dimension. When there, they are exposed to the unknown and unstable environment which gives each of them fantastic abilities. Now it is up to Reed to find a cure for his friends but will it be too late and are they all ready to give up their new found powers?
Directed by Josh Trank (Chronicle) this new Fantastic Four had all the makings of a pretty great superhero film. You had a sci-fi premise, which was embraced whole-heartedly and a young talented cast ready to join the ranks of the X-Men and Avengers. Where it falters though is in the execution, that along with terrible dialogue and a rush to the finish line, this movie feels more like the pilot of a show that’s setting up a series than it does a movie. Clocking in at a hour and forty minutes, Trank and team take the slow approach, which would be fine if it was given proper time to breathe and if the characters were not saying things that felt forced or shoehorned in. I appreciated that the filmmakers were not trying to make a typical “by-the-numbers” comic book movie, but they did so little with what they were given it didn’t feel original enough or even that entertaining. And you also get that familiar whiff of studio interference.
And here again we have the running trend of this genre of bad villains. One thing I liked about Dr. Doom as a character is that he doesn’t think he’s a bad guy, he’s a lot like Magneto where he believes everything he does makes the most sense in his mind. In this version he’s once again a love sick puppy with an unknown chip on his shoulder. Visually the film is impressive, and the serious attention paid to the Four’s powers is a lot better than the 2005/2007 versions. There is no disco dancing Mr. Fantastic with wobbly legs and arms, here his abilities are either practical or horrific in nature.
I had hoped Fox had learned from their recent success with the X-Men franchise, get talented writers and directors to guide these young hungry actors to making good, fun, and entertaining superhero films. Otherwise, give the reins back to Marvel and let them show you how it’s done.
–Robert L. Castillo