The Not So Fantastic Four
If everyone was waiting to find out if Marvel Entertainment was going to get the rights back to “The Fantastic Four,” this movie may be what does it. My review is one in a long list of others that critically pan the movie. Simply put, it was awful. The writing was on the wall as the review embargo moved closer to the release date from major critics and early public viewings weren’t available, either. I wanted this movie to be good so badly that I went to see it anyway. I was so wrong.
A growing trend in superhero movies is to make them more “dark and gritty,” mostly thanks to Christopher Nolan and the amazing success that he had with “The Dark Knight” Trilogy. It is important to remember though that Batman exists in a dark and punishing world, not all superheros do. The Fantastic Four don’t; that is where this movie starts to fall off the rails and from there can never recover. The story is simple, it’s their origin and, while it diverges pretty hard from the comic book, that isn’t the issue. It’s the underdeveloped characters, unfinished plot lines, and unexplored relationships between the characters that cause this story to fall on its invisible, rock-encrusted, flaming, rubber face.
Without spoiling anything, there are no relationships between the characters and, most disappointing of all, the familial relationship between Susan and Johnny Storm is so underdeveloped that they may as well have given them different names entirely. The flawed pacing of the movie, severe lack of action, and dry dialogue make you wonder where the $120 million dollar budget went—not the special effects, not writing, must have been the thirty minutes of set design that the audience sits through. That was an impressive set. Also, our villain was so underdeveloped as to be unbelievable and had goals so simplistic that they could have been in a 80s Saturday morning cartoon. In fact, the final act of the movie felt exactly like that. 5/10
Acting in this movie was subpar, too, which is such a shame because of the names associated with this title. Kate Mara who, if you’ve watched “House of Cards,” is a phenominal actress who was given nothing to work with. It felt as if the only direction she got for this film was, “be a nerd” and even that she didn’t do well. Miles Teller fresh off his BAFTA award for “Rising Star” was flat and forgettable. I want to watch him again in “Whiplash” just to get the taste of this performance out of my mouth. Jaime Bell, who did such amazing work in “Snowpiercer,” was sadly underutilized and once he became The Thing he had only one sentence lines. The only member of the team that seemed to put any effort into acting was Michael B. Jordan who not only brought much needed energy to the movie, but was the only one who seemed to be enjoying himself throughout the entire film. The rest of the cast was passable but equally forgettable. 6/10
Reviewing the inclusivity of this movie was something I was looking forward to because it included a mixed-race family, people of colour in positions of authority and as main characters. Sue Storm even in the two movies before the reboot was an impressive scientist as well as a caring sister, and the entire dynamic of “The Fantastic Four” was always about how they were family. Not so much any more. The familial relationship between Susan and Johnny is sadly unexplored, as is both of their relationships with their father, Dr. Franklin Storm. Susan is still a scientist but no longer has the other traits that made her anything but the token women on the team. Even though Franklin Storm is in a position of authority, he is always portrayed as being at the mercy of a Board of Directors and the military, the majority of whom are white, thus reinforcing that particular stereotype. The diverse cast is one thing, changing roles is something else entirely. Also, with a prominent female character like Susan Storm you would think that this movie easily passed the Bechdel test. Sadly, it did not. 6/10
Awesomeness is normally where you will find at least some redemption in summer action blockbuster movies and again my jumbo bag of popcorn was filled with disappointment. Pacing was absolutely atrocious. At a run time of 100 minutes I can tell you, having sat through the movie, it felt so much longer. Needless exposition, pointless set building, poorly developed characters and only one real action sequence made this the most forgettable action movie of the summer. With no real morality play like we see in every other superhero movie, from Batman to Guardians of the Galaxy, there was nothing to make you wonder, question or even think about this movie. I needed to write this review immediately upon getting home not because of any self-imposed deadline, but so that I could purge the memory of it from my brain. 2/10
In closing at a score of 4.8 not only can I not even remotely recommend this movie, I would actively suggest avoiding it, even when it comes to Video on Demand or other services; not because it isn’t worth the money, but because it isn’t worth your time.