Comic book and superhero based films are among the hottest commodities in modern film making. Nearly any and every hero is being granted the chance to make at least one appearance on the big screen. In an attempt to capitalize on the love affair that the public has with these heroes. 20th century fox decided to give one of its superhero franchises, The Fantastic Four, a do over.
Fantastic Four is an insulting, disheartening abomination that rapes, ravages, and pillages the concept of one of the staple teams in Marvel comic’s history. It’s an unjustifiable, disrespectful travesty that attempts to reboot and give an alternative perspective on the long tenured quartet from Marvel comics that originally debuted in 1961. The film stars Miles Teller (Whiplash), Kate Mara (Deadfall), Michael B. Jordan (That Awkward Moment), Jamie Bell (The Eagle), and Toby Kebbell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes). Directed by Josh Trank (Chronicle).
This is the latest superhero franchise to get a face lift. After a pair of moderately successful films some years ago (2005, 2007) and prior to the big boom in superhero film, 20th century Fox has decided to revamp the franchise. The new version is a darker, gritty, and far more serious tone as compared to the prior iterations. This incarnation should be considered more of a “based upon” and not actual adaptation of the beloved heroes from the comics as it only touches on the certain aspects of the team that define them. It does incorporate all of the essential characteristics of the team and their origin while trying to add a modernized twist to it. It does feature the conjoined origins of the Fantastic Four and their arch nemesis, Doom. It also shows the earliest beginnings of the love triangle between Reed Richards, Sue Storm, and Victor Von Doom. Beyond that, it doesn’t have much semblance to the super team that has thrived in the pages of the comics for some sixty plus years.
There isn’t many positives about this film. It’s a failure on a cataclysmic scale. The movie gets more depressing with each passing minute. However, the first half of the film is where it exhibits the most promise. The earliest origin story for the foursome. This tragedy does give a great unseen deep perspective on the friendship of Ben Grimm and Reed Richards. It also embeds a number of witty early reference to the comics such as the “Flying car” as well as trademark FF4 saying such as “Its clobbering time and Flame on. Another positive is the creative use of how they incorporate the use of their suits into the origin of the quartet’s powers.
The film is oozing with flaws. The biggest flaw though is that the director and writers don’t “get” the characters. In spite of being an origin story, Director Josh Trank clearly has no sense of who these characters truly are. Above all else, the FF4 is a family. In spite of the actual team not all being related, the FF4 has a strong sense of family embedded within it. You never get the sense of family needed for this movie. The FF4 is about a family and sense of kinship and this film never gives the audience that it is what defines them and what has helped to establish their legacy within the Marvel Universe. This movie never makes you feel that and that is where it begins to fail first and foremost. In addition to that deficiency, it also doesn’t have the camaraderie needed to sustain the movie. It exhibited nearly none of the elements that define the team. Limited love story between Sue and Reed, no Johnny vs Ben brotherly love spats, nearly nothing that makes the team who and what they are. The prior pair of films really embedded a number of light hearted moments really accentuated the stories and help to establish the camaraderie needed to truly give them a family feel to the team. This one is visibly absent of those leaving the audience unsatisfied.
This typhoon of despair is stockpiled with talent and completely squanders all of it. Many of its stars have flourished in other recent films which only adds to the unexplained misuse of all the actors. From top to bottom, there isn’t one standout performance that even helps the film to be bearable. The change of ethnicity and the fact that Michael B. Jordan brought NOTHING to the role other than the stereotypical role that we have seen all too often by black actors. Hip too slick black guy we have seen in far too many films, far too many times was clearly not even close to the performance that Chris Evans gave in the other films. Evans version of The Human Torch was clearly the better of the two and the more enjoyable on screen. I have seen many of Jordan’s films and this movie does nothing to showcase his talent. Miles Teller who had just received wide acclaim for his role in Whiplash is reduced to a bland, dull character. Toby Kennel after a great role with limited dialogue in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes costarred as the FF4’s arch nemesis, Doom, and like the rest of the cast was completely mismanaged. Tim Blake Nelson who made a memorable appearance in The Incredible Hulk makes his return to superhero films with a supporting role.
Fantastic Four is easily one of the worse superhero movies to debut in some time. It’s a stinker of epic proportions. The movie exhibited some promise in the early moments until about the midpoint then it quickly begins to dwindle. The story moves at an abysmally slow pace. The re-invention of the origin was a nice touch but there was not enough of any character to really make the audience embrace it. The special effects were good but I attribute that more to the technology now instead of the film. There are nearly no redeeming qualities and the anti-climactic climax is even worse. It is just yet another example of how bad the film is. It completely leaves the audience terribly unsatisfied. This movie never really got the concept of the FF4 and there is limited to no action. It’s befuddling how in the modern state of film making where these types of films are in high demand and the movie going population can’t get enough of them that this film turned out the way it did. It is clearly not the worse superhero movie of all time but it’s fighting to break into the top 5.