If I were asked to describe the latest attempt at a Fantastic Four film in one word that word would absolutely, without question, be joyless. I won’t beat around the bush here. We all knew this film was bad, but how bad was up in the air. This is a film who’s only reason for existing is to hang onto movie rights for a bit longer. It’s sad, really, to see Marvel’s first family treated with such after thought. It was as though the studio assumed that a film with Marvel super heroes is inherently great before the camera’s even begin rolling so why bother trying. Nevertheless I am a film critic so let’s get criticizing.
Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four immediately starts off by deviating from the original origins of the titular super hero team. In this flick Reed Richards is a ridiculously intelligent youngster who’s working on a teleportation device. His partner in crime is a young Ben Grimm, who’s not nearly as bright, but fills the affable “muscle” role that he’s always inhabited in the comics. Soon after Richards teleporter is discovered, at a high school science fair of all places, by Franklin Storm, head of a brainy think tank full of young inventors and geniuses. Before you know it Reed Richards is recruited (not Ben, who’s quickly forgotten for awhile) and is hard at work finishing his teleporter with the help of Storm’s two kids Johnny and Sue. Added into the mix is the negligibly malevolent Victor Von Doom who’s motivation for doing anything is as muddy as the cinematography in this dull, dull picture. In any event the teleporter is soon finished and that’s when we’re introduced to the meddling “evil” government types who want to take the teleporter away and use their own guys to explore the mysterious (and bland) alternate dimension our young bucks have discovered. Not to be outdone these intrepid youngsters decide to teleport on their own, without parental supervision (gasp). For some reason Reed say’s he can’t go without Ben, which I imagine is about how the screenwriter felt having forgot Ben Grimm so many pages ago. Our young heroes go through the teleporter, bad stuff happens, they get super powers, they have a super hero vs super villain fight. The End.
If it sounds like I’m over simplifying the later portions of the film I’m not. The narrative and cohesiveness of the story and characters fall apart around the same time as the lives of our young heroes do. The film sprints towards a rushed ending so quickly that the audience is in danger of whiplash every groan inducing second. No doubt the studio set it all up the way they did so they could get a sequel and start another power house franchise, but they sure missed the mark. This film can’t even claim to be a brainless action film a la Michael Bay. There’s little to no action happening. The final fight between Doom and the Fantastic Four is Reed saying out loud all the things that we the audience can clearly see are happening while each member of the Fantastic Four attempts to do something near Doom. The villain is ultimately defeated with a single punch. He tumbles back into a wormhole and that’s that. It’s exactly as exciting as it sounds.
I don’t know where to place blame here. Was it the studio? Was it the director? The actors? Nothing worked in this movie from the word go. It was a joyless slog through what felt like one film studio flipping the bird to another. I could very easily drone on and on about all the things they could have done to make the film better. There was plenty of small changes they could have implemented that could have allowed the characters to breath, to allow the narrative to excited and hold an audiences attentions, and to make the film fun, which above all else it was NOT. I can’t recommend this film in any capacity, unless you enjoy being painfully bored. Then again, we all knew it was going to be bad. Jokes on me.