Fantastic Four or Fant-4-Stic if you want to use the actual title, is the epitome of what’s wrong the superhero films today. It’s an atrociously bad movie, almost impressively so. This movie should be studied in film class throughout the ages, so others know what to avoid when making superhero movies. I was bored ten minutes in, annoyed at twenty, and down right frustrated by the first hour mark. Oh, did I mention this train wreck of a film is almost 2 1/2 hours long? This wouldn’t be a bad thing if almost all of Fantastic Four‘s plot was nothing but exposition. There was so little that this movie did right, I actually debated walking out of the theater.
Fantastic Four is the origin story, because of course it is, of four individuals that discover the secret to inter-dimensional travel. The four friends in question are genius Reed Richards (Miles Teller), wildcard Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), his sister Sue Storm (Kate Mara), and Reed’s childhood friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell). Accompanied by the incredibly bland Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) they manage to transport themselves to another planet. As I’m sure you already guessed, things go awry and the group is infected with an unknown energy that gives them superpowers. Victor is trapped on the planet, while the others awake in an underground military bade; where they are trained to control their powers. The group goes back for Victor, finds him acting all evil now for reasons never explained, and it’s up to the superhero foursome to bring Doom down.
This is a by the numbers comic book story, that offers little in the way of depth or intrigue. Fantastic Four aims for a more gritty and realistic approach, because we haven’t had enough of that by now, deciding that every character needs to channel their inner Batman and brood about everything. Seriously, everyone seems so bored and depressed in this movie. The humor is flat, border line forced at times, to the point where you are just laughing because you need a relief from all the dismal attitudes of the entire cast. Kebbell’s performance of arguably one of the most famous comic book villains of all time is just awful. He has no commanding presence on screen, there is never a sense of menace about him, and his motives are never explained to the audience.
No really, Doom vanishes for a good hour of the movie only to reappear in the last twenty minutes bent on destroying Earth. Why? I couldn’t tell you. If I had to guess the power corrupted him, yet there is never a mention of this at all. It’s not like the accident enhanced any underlying emotional instabilities he had, because if it did that would require the movie to actually establish that they existed in the first place. Nope, Dr. Doom just shows up because the movie needed a villain for our misfit team to have a “coming together” moment. I’m pretty convinced that Fant-4-Stic is missing a massive chunk of its plot. Parts of the film come out of left field without any explanation or previous mention in the plot. It’s as if they ran out of time making the movie and just decided to release it in a fractured state.
The pacing is awful, saving the only action scene to be at the end of the movie and it last about ten minutes tops. Fantastic Four is not a trying to tell you a story, instead it’s hopping on the Marvel Universe bandwagon that apparently all other superhero properties must do. This isn’t a film, but two and a half hours of exposition that may lead to a more interesting film. Origin stories are fine, but you have to follow an actual narrative thread as well. Two-thirds of Fant-4-Stic are just our heroes moping around as they whine about every little problem in their lives. It’s not until Doom shows up that the movie startles itself awake; trying to jam an entire film’s worth of story threads into twenty minutes.
The CGI itself is…decent. I’ve seen better, but I have also seen a lot worse. I’m not against Doom’s design, but Johnny Storm looked awful in motion. The Thing looks decent, but nothing to gawk about. Normally I would give a pass, but with films producing lifelike CGI such as the Planet of the Apes series it’s hard to take Fantastic Four‘s in any kind of serious matter. Green screen sets are so apparent that you’d forget you’re watching a movie instead of the opening cutscene to a video game. Editing was adequate, though lacked in any sense of flourish or sense of urgency.
Fantastic Four is a perfect example of what happens when big studios think trotting out the latest superhero property will just give them an excuse to be lazy. Superhero stories shouldn’t be so shallow, as people sometimes fail to understand how much comics can tell us. Both heroes and villains can be perfect physical representations for the sociological, cultural, or economic issues that we suffer from today. This is not what happened at all with Fant-4-Stic, instead it’s just another number on a spreadsheet at FOX. All though, can we really be surprised, we all knew this was coming given the blood feud Marvel has been having with Fox over their various properties. Let me give you four words of advice if you are on the fence about Fantastic Four.
Go. See. Another. Movie.