Fantastic Four Review: Fantastically Flawed

Director: Josh Trank

Starring: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell

Please note, this review contains spoilers.

Plagued with problems from the start, it’s a miracle this reboot ever got off the ground. When the studio themselves said prior to the release “there were definitely some bumps in the road”, it didn’t instill me with a great deal of confidence. After the dire attempts at getting this franchise off the ground in 2005, the latest Fantastic Four film had an even bigger point to prove.

The Overview

Child genius, Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and his best friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), create a prototype teleporter in their garage. Attracting the attention of Professor Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey), they are then recruited to join his adopted daughter Sue (Kate Mara) and his son Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) to develop a device to enable interdimensional travel. The “Quantum Gate” was designed by Professor Storm’s off-the-rails protégé Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), but they need Reed’s skills to complete the complex invention. Early test flights prove successful, but when Reed, Johnny, Ben and Victor drunkenly decide to take themselves off to the unknown realm, they are accidentally exposed to a mysterious substance and the mission is dramatically cut short. Crashing back to Earth, Sue is caught in the explosion also, as she was trying to help them get back safely. Whilst the intrepid youngsters return depleted in number, they also discover they have developed unusual super powers. And so our heroes are born!

The Good

So this won’t take too long! If it is any consolation, it is better than the truly terrible 2005 attempt. For a start, The Thing effect is great. In fact it is one of the best things in the film, and far from the terrible rubber suit that Michael Chiklis donned for the 2005 and 2007 Fantastic Four films. Generally the special effects were pretty good, particularly the Human Torch. Even though “Planet Zero” looked suspiciously like Mordor, all of the scenes set there were pretty solid.

The sense of foreboding with Doom was really good, with Sue sarcastically quipping “Look at Dr Doom over there!” to him, far before his transformation is revealed. Doom is one of the most badass characters in the Marvel universe, so early signs like this made me excited to see how his storyline would play out in the rest of the film. We’ll get to everything that was wrong with Doom in a little bit, however the scene of him escaping from the facility where the heroes are being monitored is amazing, far bloodier than I expected but genuinely great.

The Bad

Might need to take a deep breath before this one! Todd McCarthy of the Hollywood Reporter summed it up really well when he said: “Fantastic Four feels like a 100 minute trailer for a movie that never happens”. Okay, so it is an origin story, but when there is well over an hour of explanation about how the Fantastic Four got their powers, with barely 20 minutes left to attempt a plot, something has gone very wrong somewhere. We see Doom for barely a quarter of the film, and the film is over before it has even really got going.

The action scenes are sparse, and the genres seem muddled. One minute it’s a comedy, another a sci-fi epic à la Interstellar, then it’s horror. It’s just all over the place and it never really knows what exactly it is trying to be. Most of the jokes seem to fall flat, but yet the bits which are meant to be more serious end up being amusing. The scene when we first see Reed’s stretchy limbs is more hilarious than I think it was intended.

There were multiple moments that made me cringe: the Portishead and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea were a bit too knowing, Richard’s taking a selfie in the lab and Storm’s Instagram reference were out of place, and the construction montage was just plain cheesy, and a little too much like The A-Team. The end scene, with our heroes trying to think of a name for themselves was also unnecessarily saccharine, and stolen almost entirely from the final scene of Age of Ultron, in which Captain America is cut short before he can say “Avengers assemble!

There’s also an abundance of gaping plot holes! One minute, Johnny Storm has a broken arm, next minute he is happily welding away. The test flights to Planet Zero require a whole team of people, yet four drunken teenagers are seemingly able to whisk themselves there, no problems at all. Also, can we talk about the fact that Sue Storm’s hair changes colour in almost every scene she is in? And it happens before she gets her powers, so we can’t even blame that!

Finally we get to Doom. Oh Doom. You could’ve, and should’ve been so good, but yet you were killed off before you even got the chance to do anything. This is up there with what Iron Man 3 did to the Mandarin in terms of ruining an awesome villain, and is pretty much unforgivable. Not only do we wait the entire film to see Doom, he then doesn’t even get the chance to be badass. Shame.

The Verdict

I saw this movie so you don’t have to. I would say before this film came out I was cautiously optimistic about how it would turn out. I wasn’t blown away by the trailers, but liked the cast and just kept thinking: it can’t be as bad as the first attempt. And it isn’t as bad as the Fantastic Four from ten years ago, but it is certainly not a good film. Thoroughly disappointing, disjointed and dull, it lies down in defeat just as it should be standing up to fight. Sadly I think it is time to give up on this flawed franchise.

Agree with everything I’ve said, or am I a terribly misguided idiot who has got it all wrong? Please let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to share as well.

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