Twitter Plot Summary: The Fantastic Four get a darker, grittier reboot that somehow manages to be worse than the ones with Jessica Alba.
Without wanting to jump on the tide of negative press about Fantastic Four, having now seen the film I feel as though I must. It’s with no great delight that I have joined in with dubbing the film Fantastic Bore. The attempts to provide a more serious superhero movie a la Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy have resulted in a film that isn’t very good, plain and simple. I’m not going to blame Josh Trank or the writers Simon Kinberg and Jeremy Slater for that, instead I will throw much of the blame on the studio and the reshoots that were ordered.
This isn’t the first attempt at bringing Marvel’s first family to the big screen. Ignoring the rather awful Roger Corman effort, Fox have previously released two big budget films starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis. They managed two films out of that horrible mess of product placement, but at least they were kind of fun in their own, heavy advertising way. By comparison this interpretation of the Fantastic Four strips away all of the fun and reduces the plot to a dour narrative where barely anyone is seen outside an equally dour government facility, the villain isn’t given nearly enough to do nor an evil plan that makes sense, and the four lead characters are bordering on ciphers. To say they all lack personality is the biggest problem and the most galling mistake they could have made.
The racial reassignment of Johnny Storm into the form of Michael B Jordan is a non-point – anybody who has issues with characters being recast as a different race or gender really need to get a grip. Rather than griping about a previously white character now being black, what they should instead focus on is that the character – indeed, all the characters – are not served in a particularly flattering light. Without wanting to labour the flame based puns, there is a spark of the Johnny Storm we all know and love, but that’s all it is. A spark. Ben Grimm, aka The Thing, spends most of his screen time looking depressed. Aside from a brief horror moment where his new rock-based form is revealed, his only other real contribution to the plot is to shout “It’s clobberin’ time!” somewhat ironically in the film’s final set piece, and to punch things.
Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and Sue Storm (Kate Mara) fare little better. Teller gives Reed a certain degree of enjoyably nerdy behaviour, but he’s rarely given opportunity to demonstrate exactly what it is that makes him such a scientific genius. Sue is equally badly served, apparently a voice of reason yet that is lost in translation somewhere amongst the rewrites and reshoots. It’s probably hidden under her awful wig.
What it amounts to is a supreme waste of talent of all those involved. Everything that made Miles Teller such a standout star in Whiplash, that made Kate Mara a hot property in House of Cards, that set Josh Trank out as a director to watch after the rather excellent Chronicle, this film puts all of that to one side and quietly forgets about it. You would think on face value that they weren’t very good in the first place. This is incorrect of course, but Fantastic Four does create these doubts regardless.
When the only good thing you have to say about a film is that the special effects look half decent, you know you’re in trouble. Now it seems to be a question of how long it will be before Marvel recoup the rights to their characters and bring them into the Marvel Studios fold.