The latest reimagining of “Fantastic Four” is an experiment gone horribly wrong. What’s emerging in theaters this weekend is a mutant born out of haphazard screenwriting, poor direction and rushed special effects. The new movie based on the Marvel comic book series teams it-kids Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordon, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell, yet “Fantastic Four” manages to squander their talents and come off amateurishly constructed. I wonder if it escaped from the 20th Century Fox lot as a tax write-off.
“Fantastic Four” begins with hilariously young baby genius Reed Richards (Teller) winning a spot to work with military funding and equipment. He recreates his teleporting device that opens a portal to another dimension creatively named Planet Zero. Since immaturity is part of the job description of the film’s latest oldest 18-year-olds, boys Ben Grimm (Bell), Johnny Storm (Jordon) and Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) hop in to call first dibs before the military returns to put a stake on their claim. Of course, it all goes horribly awry, and the survivors must come to terms with their new superpowers.
No one apparently saw anything wrong with relegating Sue Storm (Mara) to the sidelines, disinviting her from the boy’s field trip or do anything that doesn’t require her to stare blankly at her team. She hardly feels like a member of the group, but more like an afterthought. Then again, who else would be in charge of designing the outfits for the boys to wear while she stays in the lab. Yes really, she makes the costumes although she never really becomes the Invisible Woman herself. The Thing, The Human Torch and Mr. Fantastic show off their new strengths much more, but no one calls them by their comic book names.
— Fantastic Four (@FantasticFour) August 2, 2015
The supporting characters fare little better than one-trick ponies. Von Doom sounds like a libertarian conspiracy theorist turned Unabomber, and when his anti-government ethos is later echoed by Sue, it’s a little odd to say the least. Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) is a walking Marvel motivational poster without any of the interesting character flaws in that other famous mentor, Professor X. How do audiences know the government officials are shady? The main representative can’t stop nonchalantly chewing gum, so clearly he has ulterior motives.
Not enough harsh words will be heaped upon the film’s paper-thin plot, which goes from boring to laughably horrendous over the course of the movie. Director Josh Trank dropped the ball on the superhero playground. I can’t come up with very many excuses that would justify Reed yelling “He’s pulling everything into another dimension!” just after showing pieces of earth getting sucked into a bright blue black hole.
— Fantastic Four (@FantasticFour) August 5, 2015
The troubled past of this latest “Fantastic Four,” well-chronicled over at The Daily Beast, is apparent in almost every frame of this movie. Its sloppy script needs at least a baker’s dozen of rewrites before it’s remotely palatable. The special effects look about a decade out of touch, let alone the hollow sense of comradery that appears painfully forced onto the screen. Without the grandfatherly presence of Stan Lee (who appeared in the previous 2000’s adaptations), “Fantastic Four” looks disowned by its creators and renounced by one of its stars.
Don’t be surprised to hear the series will be rebooted again in the next few years.
"Fantastic Four" opens in theaters Friday.