Review: Fantastic Four (2015)

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The Fantastic Four was Fox’s latest attempt to bring Marvel’s first family into the new century by doing with it what managed to be done with the dying X-Men franchise: make it relevant and successful. Unfortunately for everyone involved, it managed to do nothing of what it set out to do. If you can manage to shut out the behind-the-scene drama that is currently leaking, you might say this is not the most unwatchable movie ever, I leave that moniker to Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

With a script from Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg and Josh Trank, it seemed to bring in some of the good moments from the comics, more importantly, their use of powers but the acting and story structure alone was bad enough to sink it. Boasting a cast like Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan and Kate Mara, it had the chance of being well-acted but it is unclear if it was the script, director or character development that made it sink lower than the Titanic.

Taking their origin story from the Ultimates version of the comics, which debuted in 2000, as a new, updated version of the origin story that they developed in 1963, it had some promise. Unfortunately for the audience, we were stuck with traditional clichés and multiple used tropes that we have seen in a misunderstood genius that is smarter than everyone else, given that it was designed to take place in 2007, it made it even harder to swallow.

When asked what Reed Richards what he wanted to do when he grew up, he announced that he wanted to create an interdimensional transport. Mr. Kenny (Dan Castellaneta) ridiculed him and berated him in front of the class, which does not bode well for someone from the “science community” and would be fired as a teacher in today’s climate. Not to mention that theoretical physics is not considered a “real job?”

The relationship between Ben Grimm and Richards is unclear. It could be eluded to the fact that Ben finds what Reed’s doing as interesting and is drawn to that. Given that it shows nothing as to how Grimm would or even could assist Richards in any of his experiments, their friendship seems rather implausible. Unless he is asking for a screwdriver.

Of course, when they show that their interdimensional transport at the school science fair, Mr. Kenny is there to ridicule them and disqualify their work. Which still makes no scene. Richards (Miles Teller) does a bit of a misdirect in the presentation, that he did not need to which makes him look like he’s lying. Ben (Jamie Bell) seems unconvincing as a technical assistant when he cannot get a paper plane to return.

In traditional cliché mode, Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) and Sue Storm (Kate Mara) arrive to discuss with Reed that he used something that they did not think of. Saying they found something that Reed found five years earlier. The biggest missing question is who are these people? How did they know to find Reed and anything about his research?

This is one of the film’s biggest problems: lost time. I use that in the sense that many of the weird or disjointed moments seem to be the result of “lost time” as if there was major scenes of the movie that was cut and left the audience to just accept it and move on. The pacing was off and each act felt like a completely different movie, as if it was trying to go in a comic book style but failed to make that clear.

The movie was not completely bad. It had some highlight. Standout for me was the characterization of Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), who made the character a real person and not the over-the-top character that we saw in the two previous films. He was a genius and hated that corporations and the military was interest in their scientific work with the interdimensional transport, which resulted in him leaving the project.

Kebbell’s performance was well-balanced. He had the anger towards authority and a huge ego. However, he saw the brilliance in Reed and knew he could develop their project further. It was the somewhat budding infatuation between Reed and Sue (which we had to believe because there was zero chemistry between them) that bothered him. Using the motives that turned him into a bad guy in the movie, Kebbell still managed to keep the character grounded and somewhat cool.

The use of powers was a nice touch. They glossed over the standard cliché of everyone discovering how to use their powers, instead they are being trained by the military to perfect their use of powers and work for the government. With Reed missing, everyone somehow seems okay with it and continue to train. In certain battle sequences, Sue used her force field to carry Reed and Ben through space to fight Doom, which was a usual move in the comics.

The CG was awful. There were some moments that looked good like the Planet Zero landscape. Thing was inconsistent but the Human Torch CG was horrible. The effects from Chris Evans’ version was miles better than the one in this film. Chemistry was missing. There was not a single believable moment between Reed and Sue. Both are good actors but Mara gave nothing. It reminded me of Anakin and Padme in Attack of the Clones. Natalie Portman tried to make it work but a wooden Hayden Christensen just was not having it.

The final battle seemed very rushed and had nothing to do with the entire hour and forty-five minutes we spent watching this movie. The ending shot was the cheesiest ending in a long while. We were forced to believe that these four individuals would fight as a team. Even though Sue and Johnny were brother and sister, there was no traditional love between them. They could have simply taken out the line of that lineage and it would not have changed the film at all.

In the end, this was by far as bad as Amazing Spider-Man 2. Even being a fan of the comic made me question what either Trank or the studio (depending on which reports you believe) were thinking in the formation of the movie. The dark and moody concept is completely played out and should not have been the core of this movie. It worked for X-Men but that is who they are. I would recommend that you wait to see this movie.

Some people believe that if you don’t support one comic book movie, it could hurt future comic book movies. Yes, that may have been the thought in 2005. However, in the world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the upcoming DC Cinematic Universe, I do not believe that is true anymore. The studio can make one bad movie and the world will not end. Fortunately for us, Fox still has X-Men: Age of Apocalypse and Deadpool. I think they will be alright.

Rating: 2 stars

 

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