Fantastic Four Review

The Fantastic Four reboot from 20th Century Fox and Josh Trank has been synonymous with bad buzz for nearly every headline. Fans of the comic series are outraged over a young Reed Richards, Sue Storm as an adopted child, and the name change Victor von Doom apparently almost received (among other alterations). However, these changes are not the problems in Fantastic Four.

Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell are all talented actors. Look at what Teller did in Whiplash, and the otherwise dull Divergent series. There's no debate as to whether or not the young man is talented. The same can be said about Michael B. Jordan, who proved his acting ability with stellar performance in Fruitvale Station and even the ability to be funny in That Awkward Moment. Mara and Reg E. Cathy, who plays Franklin Storm, seemed to be the only cast members mentally present for the shoot. Bell also did his part well but was only visible for a third of the movie.

It feels like the cast regrets the film already, and it is hard not to blame them. Not only because of the script problems, which we'll get to, but the ridicule they've received from both fans and press alike. Everyone wants to know why the Human Torch is black but it honestly makes zero difference. The character is, in fact, sadly under-utilized. Michael B. Jordan should have had a bigger opportunity to portray Johnny Storm both pre- and post-powers. Rather than a Fantastic Four origin story, the 100-minute reboot feels more like a character study on Reed Richards. When Reed's story actually becomes intriguing, we jump through time and completely skip whatever happened between past and present.

Toby Kebbel's Victor von Doom also got the short end of this stick. He gets plenty of screen time, but it doesn't come with much value. He's portrayed as a jerk from the start, and when he suddenly reappears as a fully formed villain, his motivations seem unfounded and silly. Hasty and violent apocalyptic outbursts don't make you evil.

The Fantastic Four is a bright and fun property, even when they're burdened with saving the world, so why try to force them into being darker, humbled characters? The movie has "Fantastic" in its title. The dark, gritty, grounded tone the world discovered from Christopher Nolan, need not apply to such a franchise. But Trank tried anyway. And instead of flooring us the way Nolan and his Batman films did, Trank has us tapping our feet, shifting in our chairs, and looking at our watches as we wait for something to actually happen.

As for all the talk of a Fantastic Four and X-Men crossover - hopefully that's just wishful thinking. Unless the planned sequel truly does come along, finding a way to redeem the characters, cast, and director alike, there's no need to mix the two franchises. The world created within Fantastic Four's debut could mesh into the X-Men universe, but X-Men finally got itself back on track with First Class and Days of Future Past. We don't need a questionable franchise to stick it's nose in there to derail it again.

Fantastic Four is not a total loss - it's just not much of a win. If the aforementioned sequel does come to life in 2017, the groundwork is more than established. For fans who prefer the super sci-fi side of movies and detailed back stories, there might be something pleasing here. The effort felt promising in it's first act, but as it slogged through the characters' evolutions, it became increasingly dull. One could probably compare it to a much smaller version of waiting in line for San Diego Comic Con's Hall H. But rather than waiting overnight for an amazing reward, audiences will sit through about 75 minutes of exposition for a slightly less satisfying payoff in the form of an interdimensional showdown.

The characters standing side by side by the end of the film may be able to find redemption in a more pulpy sequel but this time around they won't earn much praise. It isn't a bad idea put forth by Trank to revolutionize characters in order to reintroduce them but it's the manner and length at which they are unveiled. Now that this stretch is out of the way, though, Fantastic Four might actually find it's stride in a future endeavor.

There was no, "Wow, that was awesome," moment offered in the movie, but it definitely had a good, "What the ----?" moment when Dr. Doom is realized on screen - and it's violent. It's too violent. Marvel properties (with some exceptions, such as Wolverine or Deadpool) are typically populated with brightly colored, happy-ending types of heroes. Trank tried to make something radically different from the known image of the Fantastic Four but it just didn't work.

Bottom Line: Fantastic Four is a radically different approach to the franchise. While this version of the characters may work out in the future, their establishment is anything but stimulating. 5.7/10