I could say the best thing about the new Fantastic Four movie was seeing the Marvel intro come before Twentieth Century Fox flashed across the screen. Or, I could say that the best thing about the new Fantastic Four movie was watching the green band version of the Deadpool trailer and the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer in the previews. But no, there isn’t anything redeeming about this movie. Not even Kate Mara inexplicably showing up periodically in a wig worse than Jessica Alba’s in the previous versions of Fantastic Four could save this movie. (Seriously, the wig was bad and disturbing because it didn’t match her hair in other scenes at all) Not even Reg E. Cathey chewing the scenery like a pro as Franklin Storm could save this movie. Miles Teller and Jamie Bell seem confused as to who they are supposed to be in this movie, and while Michael B. Jordan does shine a bit in his role as Johnny Storm, you have to ask yourself (just like the characters do at one point), “Why is he here?” The movie is just slow and dull. There is nothing compelling about this origins story, which is supposed to be based on the Mark Miller, Brian Michael Bendis, and Adam Kubert Ultimate Fantastic Four comic.
Without spoiling it for those who will still want to go see it regardless of what anyone tells them, let’s just say that clocking in at an hour and 40 minutes makes this movie an hour and a half too long. If you have to have more than two title cards in a movie to guide your audience through the narrative, then you are spending way too much time on things that don’t matter, and not enough on situations that could have been compelling and engaging. This retooling of the origins story fell so flat partly due to lack of chemistry between the four main characters. First of all, Ben Grimm is just the happy accident along for the ride, and Sue Storm is the innocent bystander who is too late to save some drunk boys from doing something stupid. There is no brotherly/sisterly love between Sue and Johnny Storm, and being adopted is not an excuse. They do not interact as two people who were raised by the same man in the same house, but more like two kids who barely knew each other in study hall. Sue and Reed have more of a brotherly/sisterly bond than the Storm siblings do. Or was that an attempt at romance? If so, there was more romantic tension between Ben and Reed than between Reed and Sue. One thing they did get right, Victor von Doom’s mild attachment to Sue came off completely creepy and stalkerish. All of this leads up to our big bad finally arriving on screen, and when he does, he has an absurd power level that makes the subsequent obligatory “We work better as a team” speech and approximately seven minute first and last battle, hardly plausible.
I would say save your money, because I’ve seen the Syfy channel make better weekend disaster movies than this big budget comics reboot. The story was so disjointed that even the manufactured emotional situations did nothing to convince anyone in the audience to give a damn either way about what was going to happen to this team. Not surprising at all, director Josh Trank is completely distancing himself from his responsibility for the train wreck that arrived on screen, saying the following in a tweet that he later removed for fear he might have just ruined his last chance for any career in Hollywood:
A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would’ve received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality though.
But luckily for us, the internet is forever, and the screenshot lives on.
And Josh Trank deleted his tweet. Good news, I still have it. The oral history lives: pic.twitter.com/AnZQ6ilM9r
— Mike Ryan (@mikeryan) August 7, 2015
His sour grapes over producers stepping in after his reportedly erratic behavior aren’t an explanation either, but directors have been disavowing films since the dawn of time, so it’s totally not unexpected. The real unexpected tragedy here is that this film had flashes of what could have been a great movie and a great reboot to the iconic “first family” of Marvel. Instead, it looks like all the good bits were in the trailers, and the rest just serves as a yawn-worthy time-wasting experience.
Directed by: Josh Trank
Produced by: Gregory Goodman, Simon Kinberg, Robert Kulzar, Hutch Parker, Matthew Vaughn
Screenplay by: Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater, Josh Trank
Based on: Fantastic Four by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Starring: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson
Music by: Marco Beltrami, Philip Glass
Running Time: 100 Minutes