After Tim Story’s first two extremely flawed Fantastic Four film, Fox went ahead and shot out another reboot of the property. This time, with Josh Trank directing, with his last movie being Chronicle.
Miles Teller, who gave an incredible performance in 2014’s Whiplash, is playing Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic. Kate Mara, Rooney Mara’s sister, is playing Susan Storm/The Invisible Woman. Kate was pretty solid in the first season of House of Cards. Michael B. Jordan, who you may recognize from The Wire and Fruitvale Station, is of course playing Johnny Storm/The Human Torch. And probably the weirdest bit of casting – Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm/The Thing. They are all solid actors, with a solid director, who wanted to put his own very unique stamp on this franchise. I thought this movie really had a chance. And for a while it did.
Fantastic Four is far from fantastic, nor is it horrible. What Trank wanted to do here was make a straightforward sci-fi film, and try and ground the narrative in reality. Which means there really is not any real action with the main 4 until the last 10 minutes. The rest is dealing with these mutated kids in a government facility. It’s a little over 30 minutes, maybe 45, until the kids get their powers.
Essentially, a portal to another dimension is being built, and the Fantastic Four are brought in to help, in various convoluted ways. Reed wants to be the first person to teleport to another dimension. During one drunken night, Reed invites Ben over to this facility to travel to another dimension with the gang. Oddly, only the boys go, Sue stays behind, for seemingly no reason. She’s smarter than Ben and Johnny but they get to go, it doesn’t make sense.
Sure, Susan wouldn’t be the type of person to get drunk and decide to disobey authority figures and activate the world’s first teleportation machine, but neither is Reed. Anyway, that’s when bad stuff happens and they get their powers.
Once that happens…we’re not treated to any great sequences of them figuring their abilities out…much like Chronicle. Instead, it cuts to a year later where they’re already in the middle of coping with them and having the government helping them manage, while also using them like lab rats. Coming back from the other dimension, the film embraces those elements of body horror, and treats their transformation very seriously.
It’s not “cool” or “fun,” but creepy and painful. That was effective. But it skip to one year later and we don’t see them coming to terms with their new abilities. The very first time Ben Grimm as The Thing demolishes stuff and does is thing…it’s on a monitor that government officials are watching. It’s really not a superhero movie. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing…but picking the Fantastic Four to do that with is incredibly odd.
Nobody here stands out as an actor, they’re not given a whole lot to do. Chris Evans was a better Johnny Storm than Michael B. Jordan. Evans was more charismatic and likable. And Dr. Doom was handled so poorly, he physically looked ridiculous and was only in the movie for 10 minutes. With a very weak final action sequence. And I’m not even mentioning the fact that there are so many shots and scenes in the trailer that are not in the movie, and it’s so obvious that reshoots were done, Sue’s hairstyle is changing in the 2nd and 3rd act. It becomes more of a mess as it goes along.
Fantastic Four made an honest effort to be different. But I’d be delighted to see Marvel get the rights back.