Directed by Josh Trank
Written by Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater, and Josh Trank
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, and Tony Kebbell
Fantastic Four is the origin stories for Reed Richards (Teller), Sue Storm (Mara), Johnny Storm (Jordan), and Ben Grimm (Bell), who make up the Fantastic Four. As well as the origin story of their antagonist Victor Von Doom (Kebbell). The film follows Richards as he experiments with interdimensional travel and receives an offer to join the team of Dr. Franklin Strom, who is working the same project. Eventually, they can go between dimensions, something goes awry, and the team acquires super powers. Unfortunately, for the hardcore fans of the Fantastic Four, who were hoping that this would do for the team what Christopher Nolan did for Batman ten years prior will be disappointed. Although this film does try to be the Batman Begins of the Fantastic Four.
Despite the flaws in the movie, there are some things that did work in Fantastic Four. The primary pro for the film is that the first half of the movie is a fantastic (pun intended) superhero origin story. The film does an excellent job of setting up the circumstances around the acquisition of the super powers. With the experiment that takes them to this mysterious other dimension and them going over to it even though the government wants to send actual astronauts. The first half of this movie develops these circumstances over the course of thirty to forty-five minutes, aside from the powers this also spends time developing some of the characters. The relationship between Ben and Reed gets some back-story, as well as the relationship between Sue and Reed starts well. The cast manages to give solid performances considering that the script is at times less than stellar.
Now we get to the part that I am sure you all want to read given the widespread critical panning of this film, the cons of Fantastic Four. The cons of this movie are the second half of the movie, the half that begins after you get the one-year time jump. That jump is the first con because it glosses over the second part of any good superhero origin story, the heroes learning how to use their powers. Trank had done an excellent job developing the circumstances surrounding the power acquisition, so it was disappointing that learning the powers was undeveloped. The first half started the film strong, a superhero movie that was more of a science fiction film, and it began to have well-developed relationships between the characters. The second half of the movie becomes a standard superhero film, and those well-developed relationships stop developing. There is no further development in those relationships, they become one of those you know about these relationships, and therefore we no longer have to deal with them. The first casualty of the lack of character in the second of the movie is the antagonist, Victor Von Doom. Doom is one of the least developed characters in the first half of the film; there is a sparse reference to his story only to foreshadow that he is the villain. In the second half, Doom suffers the most because there is no weight given to the stakes, his motivations to why he wants to destroy the world is unclear. The second half of the movie comes down to Doom wants to destroy the world because he is the antagonist and in a superhero movie, that is what the villain does. The second casualty of the lack of character development in the second is also the least developed character in the whole film, Johnny Strom. The only relationship of Johnny’s that receives any mention is that he and Sue are siblings. This relationship is underdeveloped, which is disappointing because Johnny and Sue are adopted siblings. Adopted siblings have kind of relationship than birth siblings have. That aspect of their relationship is not explored at all. The lack of character development, especially with Johnny, leads to the cast lacking genuine chemistry. The relationship that the team is supposed to have is just not believable. The last con is that Fantastic Four is a superhero film with no action set pieces. Well, there are two, one is pretty decent, and the other is not great at all.
While Fantastic Four starts strong, by providing a good origin story throughout the first half of the film. However, the second half of the movie goes down like the Hindenburg; the movie follows through on none of what was being developed in the first half. The film that could have been good as a science fiction movie becomes a standard superhero movie. Fantastic Four receives a 1.5/5 because it fails to follow through on the film’s strong start.