Fantastic 4 review

Josh Trank
Miles Teller
Michael B. Jordan
Kate Mara
Jamie Bell
Toby Kebbell
Reg E. Cathey
Rated: PG-13

The latest reboot of “Fantastic Four” starts off in 2007 with the protagonists Reed Richards and Ben Grimm as young kids building a teleporter in their garage. Flash forward seven years and Reed (Teller) and Ben (Bell) are still working on the science project, with Reed being the brains and Ben being the assistant.

It isn’t long before Reed’s skills are noticed by Dr. Franklin Storm (Cathey). Reed is soon brought in to work on a major teleportation project, partnering with Storm’s children Sue (Mara) and Johnny (Jordan) as well as another young genius named Victor (Kebbell). Just when the group cracks the code on teleportation, though, an incident occurs which results in the whole group getting mutated abilities.

Director Josh Trank helmed “Chronicle” in 2012, a movie that was in my top 10 list that year. Lead actor Miles Teller was great in “Whiplash,” a movie in my top 10 list of 2014 and was also solid in the romantic comedy “That Awkward Moment.” Michael B. Jordan was great in “Fruitvale Station” and also gave a strong performance in “Chronicle.”

I could go on and on, but the point is, this movie in theory, could have and probably should have been great. Instead “Fantastic Four” turned out to be a movie that, while having potential, was a complete mess.

The story in “Four” kicks off with some promise. It shows Reed’s interest in science and attempts to build the loyalty between Reed and Ben. As the first act goes on, the movie becomes somewhat of a sci-fi flick with a focus on the young adult characters. The early interactions are fine and the sci-fi element provides some interest.

Then the accidental experiment incident happens and the movie flies off the rails.
The second and third acts of the movie are completely rushed with hardly any interactions between the heroes to display any sort of growing camaraderie with their new powers. The movie suddenly jumps from the characters working with science to them being used by the government with military purposes. There’s no transition, there’s no build up and worst of all, there’s barely any discussion of using their powers for that reason. In total, there were probably three lines of dialogue regarding this subject.

Speaking of no build up, that also applies to the villain. In the first act, Kebbell’s character Victor Von Doom is fine. The delivery is good and he convincingly brings a character who is obviously on edge to the screen. The problem is there is zero transition from him being a pessimistic young scientist to the ultra super villain he later becomes. The fact that there is no transition leads to a climactic battle that is faster than the Human Torch can fly. It’s so rushed and in the end feels empty.

Much of the other performances in “Fantastic Four” were similar to Kebbell’s, with the actors trying to give good performances but being restrained by the story and lack of development.

There was some chemistry between all five main characters but when the second act comes the film never goes further to expand that chemistry and give it new life after they get their powers.

Teller is believable as a person who cares about the importance of science, Jordan is fine as the loose cannon, Bell shows he is a loyal friend to Reed and Mara is convincing as a smart, young version of Susan Storm.

These actors and the characters they play feel so held back, though, with major segments of needed development being glossed over. For example, there is a character death later in the movie that should have been a huge point of growth for these characters and could have been a great point of depth and a good rallying point. However, it just seemed to be passed by in a couple minutes.

For a Marvel-based action movie, there isn’t much to say in entertainment value, either. Even with all the updated CGI out there, The Thing doesn’t look perfect, Johnny’s Human Torch form isn’t much more impressive than the version about 10 years ago and the usage of all the powers combined at the end isn’t exactly mind blowing at all.

It’s a shame, too, because super hero teams usually provide for great moments of action combos. Take “The Avengers” for example, with the way Iron Man shoots his repulsor rays off Captain America’s shield to blast away enemies. That’s what this movie really needed. Sure, “Fantastic Four” does show them using all their powers at once, but it doesn’t feel cohesive place resulting in it being unmemorable.

Buried deep within “Fantastic Four” is a good movie somewhere. I believe that with the acting talent on hand, and some of the scenes that were in the film, that a solid picture could have been made. Unfortunately, according to a lot of entertainment news agencies, there were a lot of problems with production and it certainly showed on screen. There’s somewhat of an entertainment value to this and it certainly isn’t the worst movie of the summer, but it’s still a poor attempt.  2 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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