I’ve dreaded this day from the moment I began writing for Omnibus Journal. With our subject matter heavily drenched in nerd culture, I knew that Fantastic Four was going to need to be one of the movies I reviewed. With my expectations lower than they’ve ever been for a movie, I sat down to watch 20th Century Fox’s latest excuse to hold on to rights that they don’t deserve, Fantastic Four (or stylistically titled “Fant4stic”… assholes).
This straight up origin story follows Reed Richards (Miles Teller), a young and brilliant scientist who has created a means for interdimensional travel with the help of his best friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), siblings Johnny and Sue Storm (Michael B. Jordan and Kate Mara respectively), and Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell). When their trip to an alternate dimension goes terribly wrong, the group acquires powers that will change who they are forever… then there’s a final (only) battle and it’s over.
The biggest problem with this movie is its terrible script. Fant4stic’s as-basic-as-they-come origin story seems to have been written by someone who has only a rudimentary understanding of the source material, or comic books in general. It jumps around too frequently, missing opportunities to help build the relationships between characters that it so desperately needs, and it sets up problems that it obviously has no intentions of actually solving. At one point, Franklin Storm goes to a board of directors in an attempt to get funding for his project only to be shot down. This little problem is fixed in the next scene when Franklin assures Victor that the board will stay out of their way. That is literally the last thing that is said about it. There are so many times in the movie where it feels like there is an entire section missing and it leaves me beyond frustrated. That aggravation is exasperated by the writer’s half-assed attempt at building characters.
I could excuse the piss-poor writing if there was at least a semblance character development attempted, but that isn’t the case. The characters are the way they are because they do things that show it. In no way is there anything in the actual performances that show who these characters are. Johnny Storm is a daredevil because he raced a car. Ben is a tough guy because there’s a mention of him always having Reed’s back. You can tell how smart Reed is by the borderline offensively geeky awkwardness. Sue Storm, on the other hand, is… just boring. They don’t even try to give Dr. Doom – one of the greatest villains ever created – any kind of motivation. He’s just the villain because he has to be the villain. Everything is handed to us in clunky exposition, like how high Johnny’s IQ is (not even joking), and the actors are given nothing to contribute.
The only thing that (minimally) heightened my expectations for this movie was the cast. “If all else fails, at least we’ll get decent performances,” I thought to myself. As it turns out, even a great cast couldn’t save this heaping pile of turds. Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, and Michael B. Jordan are all highly talented actors that are utterly wasted here. They give no performance to speak of because they are given absolutely nothing of note to perform. There was no direction, as if Josh Trank wasn’t even involved in the filming of the movie. There are minute glimpses of good performances, but it’s clear that the actors weren’t even trying.
Fant4stic is the product of lawyers instead of actual artists so that Fox can hold on to the rights to Fantastic Four just a little bit longer. If it wasn’t clear after the abysmal rectal dripping that was Fantastic Four – Rise of the Silver Surfer, 20th Century Fox needs to go ahead and let this property go home to Marvel Studios. I really wouldn’t have minded all the alterations (or the outright misinterpretations) to the iconic First Family of Marvel if they had even tried to give something new or original, but Fox just proved that Bryan Singer is the real reason the X-Men franchise is successful and they are just the rich uncle. Fox needs to take a page out of the Sony playbook and strike a deal to share the rights with Marvel Studios before they drag the Fantastic Four name through the mud anymore.
Shining Moment: The Thing looked somewhat like the comic book version… sort of.
All Images Courtesy of 20th Century Fox