07th Aug2015

‘Fantastic Four’ Review

by Jason Brigger

Stars: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson | Written by Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg, Josh Trank | Directed by Josh Trank

Fantastic-4-launch-1-sheet

Fantastic Four slams into theaters with a big comic book “THUD” this week; and there was a reason 20th Century Fox put an embargo on any film reviews for this movie until late in the week.

It’s not that the film is horrible like a lot of other websites are stating; it’s just boring. The film updates the classic first superhero family from the 1960’s by blending elements from the early 2000s version from Marvel’s Ultimate Universe but unfortunately the characters still do not seem real or genuine. Adding to the mess is the bigger issue: Fantastic Four doesn’t really know whether it wants to be a sci-fi film or a superhero origin film and that’s the biggest failure.
The film tells the story of genius science prodigy Reed Richards (Teller) as he is enlisted by Dr. Franklin Storm (Cathey) to complete a teleportation device. Along the way he is joined by Dr. Storm’s children, thrill-seeker Johnny Storm (Jordan) and brilliant scientist Susan Storm (Mara). Dr. Storm also brings back his ex-student, Victor Von Doom (Kebbell), to give Richards the final push to complete the teleportation device. The team becomes friends, as told through a series of montage because every superhero film needs montages, and Dr. Storm’s dream of traveling to another dimension is realized. Along the way Richards recruits his loyal and tough as nails friend, Ben Grimm (Bell) to test the teleportation device because why not, that’s why. During a late night test run, things go terribly wrong and the group barely returns intact but become enhanced with super powers, ranging from extreme stretching abilities to invisibility to a rock like substance and even a man made of fire. The superhero team must learn to work together and quick due to the big super-villain Victor Von Doom returning from the alternate dimension and ready to extract his revenge on anyone that will listen.

The Good:

-The cast, well, most of the cast, does a good job trying to carry a less than stellar script. I had reservations about Miles Teller in the role of Reed Richards but Teller proved me wrong. Michael B. Jordan is an amazing actor in everything he acts in and in the Fantastic Four he at least looks like he is having more fun with the source material than anyone else in the cast. The rest of the cast does admirable job, except for one that we’ll get to later.

-The first act. The first half of the film is a really good sci-fi film and gives a good back-story to a few of the main characters. It takes longer than most origin films for the super powers to show up but the heavy emphasis on the sci-fi actually didn’t make me mind the long setup.

The Bad:

-Kate Mara. Mara didn’t seem too excited to do any press for the film and she also didn’t seem too excited to act in the film either. She comes across as bored and reminded me of the horrible performance by Blake Lively in the Green Lantern film. Mara came across as she rather be anywhere else but in the Fantastic Four.

-Pacing. After a good first act, the film jumps to the finale with no second act. After acquiring their powers the film jumps one year and then ten minutes later, Doom returns and we are into the final battle with little buildup. It felt like the studio had a really good idea for the first half of the film but had no idea what to do with the rest of it.

-Pants. I’m sorry but can someone please get some pants on the Thing? Yes I know he is made of rock but when I have to see his rock crack on his backside every time he turns around, it gets a little ridiculous. Please, put some blue pants on him so no one has to witness his backside again. Heck, even the Hulk has stretchy pants.

-Dr. Doom. The studio has had three films to make Dr. Doom into one of the most memorable villains in all of cinema and they are now 0 for 3. One of the most evil characters in the comic books and not one writer has figured out how to translate that to the big screen. In his latest adaptation, Dr. Doom, not Victor Von Doom, shows up for 10 minutes at the end of the film and is beaten by a superhero team that put aside their differences literally five minutes into the final fight. It may have been better if the Fantastic Four fought a different villain in this film and actually built up Dr. Doom for a bigger role in the sequel. Of course after the recent reviews, a sequel is looking less and less likely.

The Middling:

-Nothing.

Final Grade: C-

Fantastic Four is not the worst superhero film made and it’s better than it’s previous two predecessors but it’s still not good. The pacing of the film kills any momentum the first half of the film builds up and just comes across as boring. There are seeds of a possible good film throughout but through multiple re-shoots and re-writes, the studio lost any chance of starting a new franchise and after a total of three attempts at trying to make a good Fantastic Four film, maybe it’s time to just stop trying.

**You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, every Wednesday here on Nerdly, or subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcasting apps**

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