Well…. They may want to rethink the title. ‘Mediocre Four’ would be more apt. I wanted to like this movie. I really, really did. I love comic books and I love movies so it should be a no-brainer that I would like this movie. At the end of the day, a reboot wasn’t necessary as I actually enjoyed the 2005 version of this film more than this most recent offering. Let me point out that nothing I am going to say in the course of this review could be considered “spoilers” since the film is kind of spoiled by it’s very nature. Where do I begin….
For those who are unfamiliar, The Fantastic Four were created in November of 1961 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and basically began the Silver Age of comics. A group of four friends gain amazing powers after being bombarded by cosmic rays during a scientific mission into outer space. Over the years, this origin has been updated in it’s telling but the premise has basically remained the same. In this most recent theatrical release, the updated story is that the group has been working on a way to transport organic matter to another dimension. After a successful test with a monkey, the project is put on hold so that the U.S. Government can take over and use it. Upset by this turn of events, Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) decide that they should be the first ones to cross over to this other dimension. Gearing up and joined by Reed’s childhood friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), the group makes the journey but are nearly killed while exploring this new world. All of them make it back except for Doom who is apparently killed before Sue Storm (Kate Mara) is able to bring them home. The “attack” by the other planet affects each of the group in a different way. Reed can stretch his malleable body, Johnny can set himself on fire, fly and shoot flames, Sue can become invisible, create force fields and… can also fly (?) and Ben is coated in alien rocks making him super strong and nearly invulnerable. In a plot too convoluted to explain, Doom is brought back, attacks everyone and decides to go back to the other dimension and suck the Earth into it with him thus killing everyone on the planet. He is stopped after the new team go after him and beat him following a rather ridiculous, anti-climatic battle and then return home. **SIGH**
While the casting may not have been very good, the acting itself was very solid all around. Obviously doing an origin story for each character would have been difficult in an ensemble film such as this and so only the early days of Reed Richards and Ben Grimm were shown. Franklin Storm (excellently played by Reg E. Cathey) was the pillar that supported this film both in terms of the story as well as with his substantial acting presence. That is pretty much all I have to say as far as the positive aspects of the movie. Now onto the gaping flaws…..
Let me start with Victor Von Doom. In the world of comic books, there are few villains who can rival Doctor Doom as far as power, gravitas and sheer bad-assery. He is the monarch of the fictional nation of Latveria, a super genius, master strategist and also has a vast knowledge of mystical energies and magical powers. In the movie he was shown as little more than a jealous rival, a petulant genius and, once he attained his “powers”, kind of a mashup of various villains. There was no attraction for his character and he almost felt like just someone they included into the early part of the movie because “We have to include Doctor Doom.” and then didn’t really know what to do with him after that.
Besides the overall disjointed feeling that the movie had to it, there was just no heart to it at all. The film felt hollow with no urgency or way to connect with the characters for the audience. The one exception, again, being the scenes between Franklin Storm and his son Johnny. (So for all of those people out there complaining about an African-American being cast as Johnny Storm, it might be worth noting that he was the character I felt was the most relatable of the ensemble!) The inattention to detail also puzzled me. For example: They can make a flame-proof suit for the Human Torch and clothing that can disappear for Invisible Woman, but they can’t make pants for The Thing? Also, when they get their own base at the end, they don’t go back to The Baxter Building, they aren’t given Four Freedoms Plaza, they don’t even move to Pier 4. Nope! They are given a mountain based facility called Central City. Central City?!?! Like the place where The Flash calls home?!?! C’MON!!!
Overall, it was one big disappointment. In fact, this was just barely a notch above being an Ang Lee’s ‘Hulk‘ sized disappointment. You can’t pin the problems on any of the actors either. This was a result of bad writing, poor direction and inattention to the most basic of details. If Fox is even halfway smart about things, they’ll broker a deal with Marvel / Disney in the same fashion that Sony did with Spider-Man to help salvage the mess they’ve made with yet another reboot attempt before going ahead with their sequel that they’ve already got in the works due to be released in 2017. As far as going to the movies this weekend, you’re better off getting the 2005 version at Redbox or Amazon Live instead of wasting your money on this.