Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four film has been plagued with problems from the beginning. A reboot of the 2005 film, based more on Marvel’s first family of superheroes from the more recent time line where they’re closer in age, the film has a darker tone than its predecessors. However, while the prior films weren’t fantastic (I know, I know, but it had to go in there somewhere!), they were fun and involved a bit more character dynamic than the reboot is ever willing to give us.
An origin story isn’t necessarily what we wanted (or needed) but reboots always find themselves back at the beginning, don’t they? This origin story is slightly altered (and no, I’m not talking about people’s issues with Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm–which, for the record, wasn’t at all a problem), with the team never having flown into space. But before getting to that point, screenwriters Simon Kinberg and Jeremy Slater take us back to when Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) met. Reed is a kid genius who is trying to build an inter-dimensional machine that will prove that other dimensions exist.
Franklin (Reg E. Cathey), one of the lead scientists at the Baxter Institute and his daughter Sue Storm (Kate Mara) take interest in Reed’s experiment and recruit him to the institute. There, he must work with Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell), a student who had conceived the same idea but never saw it succeed, and Sue’s brother Johnny (Jordan) to create a large machine that will be able to transport humans to another dimension. After succeeding, the teens refuse to let NASA be the first to explore this new new scientific breakthrough and so they, along with Ben, go to this new dimension themselves. The consequences? The unknown territory and an accident gives them new powers that they now must deal with.
I wanted to like this movie. I really, really wanted to like it. Some may think the Fantastic Four are some of the boring superheroes, but I’ve always enjoyed their relationship with each other. Suffice it to say you’ll see none of that here. Okay, that’s a lie… you will see about three to four minutes of it, but nothing else. Ultimately, this is the fault of the screenwriters. Fantastic Four is a team, you say? Well, not really according to this movie. The lack of overall chemistry is glaring. That, along with the awful pacing, throws the entire film out of sync and makes it painful to sit through. Fantastic Four tries to go for dark and edgy, but it is neither of these things and tries really, really hard trying to convince us that it’s something it’s not. Any fun you think you may have had watching the film immediately disappears as soon as they begin working on that dreaded machine. So much for spicing it up.
The movie spends three quarters of its time being too dialogue-heavy and technical and the character development and relationship building is practically non-existent. There is no conflict happening anywhere onscreen and it makes for a boring film. The last ten minutes involve Doom doing apparently evil things that the team has to save the world from, but it’s all so forced and contrived that it doesn’t even feel like it belongs in the movie. The trouble is that all the actors are talented, but they have absolutely nothing to work with. Absolutely nothing.
The thing is is that the first 15 minutes or so of the film are very promising, but it continues to stay stagnant and is terrible at putting itself together. What the film ultimately lacks is heart, drive, and intrigue and comes off as stale rather than interesting. By the time the action comes around (and it’s not impressive by any means, the CGI doesn’t live up to the film’s pretty hefty budget), you will have truly stopped caring. Fantastic Four is not worth the watch. It’s an extremely rough film where there are a lot of edges that needed to be smoothed over. You can easily tell that it was revamped several times by everyone involved because there are a lot of scattered pieces that just don’t fit together. It leaves us to question how Victor von Doom even got from point A to point B, the dialogue in the last 20 minutes is so terrible that even the actors looked pained saying the lines, and the film’s script and pacing is abysmal. An unfortunately disappointing bore.