I have to admit, going into this film I had very low expectations.
If you are not a huge fan of comic books, then maybe you didn’t pay any attention to all the news and interviews leading up to the release. For comic book fans as myself, all the online chatter gave the impression that the film FOX was releasing was not a true Fantastic Four film but their own entirely different superhero film with the name ‘Fantastic Four’ attached. Although my expectations were low, I still had a small sliver of hope that Josh Trank’s vision for the ‘first family of the Marvel comics’ to truly be fantastic. However, it was not so. I’m not sure if that the blame lies with Trank himself or, according to him, FOX as they cut and trimmed his film to the point where even he says that it isn’t fantastic.
If you are familiar with the franchise, the team consists of genius scientist Reed Richards, his wife Sue Storm, her brother Johnny Storm, and Reed’s childhood friend Ben Grimm. During a trip to space, they were caught in a cosmic storm that changed their biological make-up, giving them unique abilities. Reed can stretch his body and manipulate his matter into any shape he wishes. Sue Storm can turn herself (and others) invisible. She can also create forcefield bubble to protect herself or use that energy to project it at an enemy. Johnny Storm has the ability to fly, turn his whole body on fire and shoot fireballs at any foe. Finally, there is Ben, who’s entire body is turned into a giant rock ‘thing’. He has the strength to go toe to toe with the Hulk. This is the original origin of the Fantastic Four, and not what we see in the film. (Though, personally, I think that is fine in principle. Creative liberties are fine and, in theory, the concept of it was interesting.)
Fantastic Four is a film about young teenagers (who don’t even look like teenagers) who are part of a team at the Baxter institute where they are looking to create a teleporter that can send man to another dimension in order to find new ways to save the planet or create resources. After they have succeeded, the government steps in and takes over. Upset over their involvement, Reed Richards (Miles Teller), Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) decide that they are not going to let NASA be the first ones to plant a flag in the new dimension. Of course, their journey does not come without consequences. Sue Storm (Kate Mara) rushes to their help to manually bring them back and the result changes their lives forever. They have powers that the government now wants to exploit, and Doom wants to use to destroy the world.
There are many things wrong with this film, not the least of which is that it is mostly bland and boring. Most of the action you have already seen in the trailers leading up to it. The film is filled with medicore dialogue and characters that, although interesting, were never really developed enough for us to actually care for them. Fantastic Four (the comics) is about family and fun and being together and having a great bond, despite our differences. This film touched on none of those issues. The family aspect is one of a broken family where a father is so caught up in his work that he’s too busy for his son (which we have to guess because it’s not really fleshed out) and yet shares a stronger bond with his adopted daughter (which of course brings a weird turmoil between the siblings that again is touched on and then that’s it). Reed Richards is too smart for his own good but, even then, he is missing for a big portion of the film and, compared to his comic book counterpart, he’s not that great. Kicked out of the Baxter institute for some unexplained reason, Victor Von Doom is portrayed as a brooding manchild who hates mankind (and especially the government.) His character is a horrible interpretation of the character with powers that can neither be explained nor justified in terms of the final battle. Ben shows up for a trip, and then is a brooding Thing the entire film. (He even says his famous line, “it’s clobbering time” for no reason other than a nod to the comic character. Even Sue Storm was really only used as a 5th wheel. While Doom was going crazy, she was still not really “part” of the team or family (which does the character a great disservice). If his powers were as they portrayed, the Fantastic Four stood no chance against him. Basically, the film takes all that made the Fantastic Four a beloved family in comics, strips it all away, and attempts to create something new that never amounts to anything.
By the time you can honestly say “That’s the Fantastic Four!”, it is the very last scene of the film.
There is one interesting concept in the film. Franklin Storm (Johnny and Sue’s father) tells Doom that they should not try to play God. Doom wanted to destroy our world and create a new one where he can rule….alone (makes no sense). But that is essentially the error of mankind more times than we can count. When we attempt to play God, we often make things worse for ourselves than when we first started out. The biggest lie Satan ever told was when he told Eve in the Garden that she would be just like God. Since sin entered the world, that lie has always been there and has always dominated mankind. We were created in God’s image to have a personal relationship with God. He tried to spare us from the knowledge of evil, and in an attempt to be like Him or be His equal, we are dealt with a world that grows much more evil as the years pass by. Yet, He still loves us enough to send His son to die for us and offer us redemption.
As of this writing, Fantastic Four has a 9% Rotten Tomatoes score from critics and 28% from viewers. It is a film with interesting concepts and characters that never get developed (however 9% is low). The viewers are closer to reality as around 30% to max 50% seems right (which is still a failure).
My opinion? Save your money and wait for it to come on Netflix.