We knew it wouldn’t be good. We accepted the low expectations we had for the movie/remake no one wanted. Here is what it was really like. A boring, unfantastic film. Spoilers ahead, if anyone really even cares.
There are moments when writers sit in a room and discuss a project. In TV shows there is five or more writers or less, sitting together, brainstorming, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. This film had three screen writers. Jeremy Slater and Josh Tank apparently had a much more block-buster movie planned. Chuck full of travel, more action and a flying car. But everything changed because of the budget. This script, before the addition of the X-men Days of Future Past Writer Simon Kinberg came on board, was much more exciting than what we saw on screen. The King of Latveria Victor Von Doom wasn’t even supposed to be the villain, in fact Mole Man was planned and Galactus, pretty much everyone besides Victor. One source even says that this movie was supposed to be much like the original 1961 comic. But Hollywood sent it through a chopping block and what you get is a mess (Source).
Here’s what we’re dealing with. The majority of this film doesn’t revolve around all the characters learning to work together, or getting to know each other. No. The first half of the film revolves around Reed Richard’s. Reed’s childhood, his friendship with Ben Grimm, no one taking his teleportation invention seriously, except his best friend Ben. That is until Franklin Storm shows up, with his adopted daughter Susan Storm (yes you read that right). So he gets an offer to go to the Baxter institute full of other kids that we never meet and only barely see, in order to fix the bigger version of the device which would send them to another world. And oh yes, for the majority of the movie everyone is 17-18 years old, aside from Franklin Strom and all the government stooges.
Long story short the men…yes Sue Storm was not invited, head to the negative zone and when they return and the re-entry blast effects Susan, everyone else gets powers. They all wake up in Area 57. Not 51, or 52, not even in the Navada desert, but area 57 somewhere where there is snow. The government, a year later is using them to hunt bad guys, or destroy drones, which from a government perspective makes sense. These are valuable assets. But their plan isn’t to help people, it is of course to return to the negative zone, create more super-powered people and have their own army. Because that always works.
This movie is pretty slow paced and then picks up on the climax which lasts ten minutes, or maybe it was fifteen out of the 100 minute long movie.
Let’s talk about our characters. Sue Storm, played by Kate Mara gives a decent performance with what she had to work with. Susan iss smart, attractive, and has a much better hold of her powers than Jessica Alba did. She had time to master them. She’s stronger and does some pretty cool things with her powers, of course we only see those powers for mainly those climactic ten mintes. But hey, better than nothing right? She’s really under used in this movie.
Reed Richards, played by Miles Teller is a boy genius with a heart…and people skills, compared to the previously seen Reed Richards. He’s more interested in people’s opinions, full of ingenuity and steals the show for a good chunk of the movie. This is his story, the other are just in it and that’s not necessarily a bad thing…except that the film is titled Fantastic Four, not Reed Richards and the Fantastic 4….3…whatever.
Johnny Storm played by Michael B. Jordan is less flirty than the previous portrayal but that might only be because the only woman we see in this movie is his sister. He is shown as a lot smarter and similarly cocky, but the audience isn’t really sure what he knows or where his skills lie beyond fixing cars and welding. We actually see very little of him in Human Torch action sequences.
There are two majorly really under used characters in this film, aside from Sue. Let’s start with Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm. Jamie Bell is famous for playing the lead character in the AMC television show Turn. His role as Ben Grimm is pretty much to be the best friend to Reed Richards. Problem being we never see much of that friendship in the film. They’re friends, they went to school together. But Ben Grimm is a brilliant and capable man in his own right. He’s barely used and the design for the Thing is kind of depressing. See left. it doesn’t resemble Jamie Bell nor does he sound like him. A waste of a good actor. Oh and in case anyone is wondering if the makers of this film remembered that Ben Grimm was Jewish, the answer is “If you blink, you missed it.” The only indication of his faith, in anyway is the Menorah we see on the shelf in Ben’s home at the very beginning of the film, never to be thought of or mentioned again.
Finally let us examine Victor Von Doom played by Toby Kebbell. He clearly likes Sue, and while his rivalry with Reed is virtual than visible, the powers displayed by Doom is so much better than the previous incarnation. We see Doom kill people and lift the earth, we never get to talk about his origins, other than the fact that he’s from Latveria.
This movie’s final act is rushed at light speed and we aren’t really given clear motivation for Doom’s actions beyond “oh this world is meek, I had so much more fun in my desolate Negative Zone where I gained amazing powers.” He only shows up in the last parts of the movie. Its rather poorly handled, likely due to rewrites and reduced budget. But it isn’t an action packed story. It tries, poorly to tell the origins of these heroes, and it fails. Their superhero names are not mentioned, with Doom being the exception and it doesn’t really establish them very well as a cohesive team of any sort.
I sincerely hope for the sake of comics and for the sake of the careers of these actors, that Fox doesn’t decide to make anymore Fantastic 4 films. Seeing as how Brian Singer wants an X-men/FF crossover, it seems that might not happen.
Final Grade: F+. The Plus is only because of the utilization of Dr. Doom’s powers beyond electricity.