There comes a time when something just isn’t done properly. With the slew of super hero movies churned out year after year, there was one that was bound to be interpreted in a less than stellar way. Such is the case for the newest super human reimagining, “Fantastic Four.” There are certain things a super hero movie needs in order to survive and earn critical acclaim, and there’s especially something very key to include in an origin story. “Fantastic Four” works as an extremely intensive, laborious origin of the super human team, and therein lies the main, glaring problem: it never strayed from telling the story, nor did it do anything to move it along.
The origin of this super hero team is depicted slightly differently in “Fantastic Four” than in its comic book lore. Recruited by Professor Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey), Reed Richards (Miles Teller) is tasked with completing a machine that has the ability to transport matter to an alternate world. Along with scientist Sue Storm (Kate Mara), technician Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) and Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell), the machine eventually gets completed. Wanting to be the first to test it out, Reed brings along his high school friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), and the four guys sneak into the machine to the other side. When things go awry, Victor gets stuck behind, and Sue helps the remaining guys return, but not without disaster, leaving the foursome with as of now permanent physical alterations.
Now, that’s how the Fantastic Four was created, but that sadly is all the film focuses on. There’s too much exposition and not enough action. The only conflict in the film comes in the final moments, and it’s not even done in a way that’s exciting. There’s a wait for something—anything—to happen, but it never does. A film can’t move along unless there’s conflict, or a build-up of something to get to. There’s no anticipatory action to be had, which is the first thing wrong.
But it doesn’t stop there. A super hero film needs not only a good hero—or group of heroes—but it needs a good villain, as well as good character. Not character as in an individual, but in the sense of its charm and charisma. “Fantastic Four” lacks all of the above. Nobody is fleshed out enough, which results in a lack of care for what happens (or in this instance, doesn’t happen). The only glimmer of a good story comes with the friendship of Ben and Reed, but even that isn’t explored fully, the former being mostly absent and the latter disappearing for a lackluster attempt at accomplishing something (that is never really explained) that never comes to fruition. The acting isn’t bad, but the cast really had little to work with. In the end, there’s nothing but hollowness in all that plays out, and nothing is added to lighten it up. It’s humorless, and lacks that certain character that most super hero movies tend to incorporate. “The Avengers” is the perfect antithesis to “Fantastic Four” as far as super hero movies are concerned.
Overall, it’s no wonder “Fantastic Four” was such a bomb at the box office. In the simplest terms, it’s boring. There’s no excitement, no action, and the heroes don’t get to do much of anything. The film as a collective whole would have worked better as a flashback in a sequel to build a backstory. Instead, we’re treated to a whole lot of backstory with little to no actual story to make this a film worth watching. There’s no humor, excitement, action, character, conflict or anything worthwhile. It works visually, and thematically it touches upon the benefit vs. the downfall of meddling with science, but that isn’t enough to save it from lining the bottom of the barrel in the super hero film genre. It joins the likes of “Batman and Robin” (which actually had a story—albeit a very campy, unrealistic one) and “Green Lantern” as some of the worst ever, which is a shame. But, with such fierce competition in the genre, it was inevitable that a film with “fantastic” in its title would be nothing but abysmal.
Final grade? D+