"Fantastic Four" Review
The new Fantastic Four movie puts a darker spin on Marvel Comics' "first family." Led by a strong cast which includes Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell and Toby Kebbell, this latest iteration sadly lives down to the hype. I desperately wanted to enjoy this movie, but I actually walked out afterwards in a state of depression.
The story sees the team coming together to crack inter-dimensional travel; in doing so, however, they find themselves imbued with unique abilities and bodily features. Reed Richards (Teller) can stretch himself like putty, Sue Storm (Mara) can turn invisible and create force fields, Johnny Storm (Jordan) can fly as well as conjure fire, and Ben Grimm (Bell) is a massive, Hulk-like rock monster.
Beyond that, nothing remotely interesting happens in this movie. There is no semblance of any stakes whatsoever, which makes it difficult to root for any of the characters at all. Everyone creatively involved simply phones it in. The typically wonderful Teller gives a performance that starts well enough but turns to middle-school play territory in the film's last 15 minutes. That guy is too old and too talented to still be doing Pine Tree #2.
I shouldn't really hold that against any of the actors, though. The script from Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater and Josh Trank is positively joyless and shockingly devoid of action. It resembles Ang Lee's Hulk in that way. There's little good that any actor could do with this material or with Trank's misguided direction.
Even the way that the characters obtain their powers feels painfully contrived. Obviously something about the science experiment goes wrong, and somehow each of them is affected differently despite being exposed to the same adverse conditions. Why is Ben the only one to get hit with rubble? How on earth does Johnny catch fire? What happens in Reed's capsule that he can somehow stretch and the others can't? And Sue isn't even with them. How the f**k does she get her invis-abilities? *Lolz*
The other character affected by this event is Victor Von Doom (Kebbell), a friend-turned-enemy of the Fantastic Four. The writers get absolutely everything wrong with this guy. First of all his look is horrendous, and secondly he somehow hatches a quick plan to destroy the world that's dispensed with about as quickly as it's brought up. A good villain needs to make the stakes personal for newly introduced heroes. They need to build up to the apocalypse over a couple of sequels so that the audience has time to get invested in the characters and their abilities. This is why most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been so successful. Anything other than that never works. See Green Lantern, Man of Steel, Thor 2, and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Even if "Dr. Doom" returns for the already green-lit Fantastic Four 2, any evil plot that the writers devise for him will not matter. The entire world is about as high as the stakes get, and now that's done with. In about 20 minutes of screen time, the arch-nemesis of the Fantastic Four is ruined for this whole rebooted franchise.
From a technical standpoint, the costume design is drab, the color palette is too dreary, and the visual effects are hit-or-miss. The character animations on "Human Torch" and "The Thing" are good, but the artistic praise pretty much stops there. There's a brief sequence that looks almost half-rendered where Reed stretches his face back into place after disguising himself in a shop in Central America. It's ridiculous enough that Reed goes from dark tan back to pasty white. I don't recall my Play-Doh ever changing colors like that when stretched. The poor animation just adds to the stupidity.
There are also some scenes with green screen work of similar quality to your nightly TV weather forecast. It's nearly impossible to miss when the crew first lands in the alternate dimension.
I would've liked to see more diversity in the color palette instead of constant grays and navy blues. The Fantastic Four inhabited some pretty psychedelic worlds in the comics, and it would've been nice to see the production design reflect that.
I could rant on and on, but I think you get the point. I honestly struggled to stay awake for this 100-minute downer. The 2005 and 2007 movies with Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis are more fun and offer truer representations of the characters than Fant4stic(fant-four-stick) does.
-Great young cast
-Contrived character development
-Almost zero action
-Dreary production design
-Takes itself waaaay too seriously
Written by Ben C. of The Reel