'Fantastic Four' Movie Review: Why You Should Not See This in the Theater
Get the details of the superhero film with Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan.
— -- Starring Miles Teller, Jamie Bell, Kate Mara, and Michael B. Jordan
One-and-a-half out of five stars
This is a reboot I suppose somebody asked for, maybe because the first attempt 10 years ago at establishing a "Fantastic Four" franchise didn’t work out so well.
Guess what? The second attempt is just as bad, if not worse.
How this opportunity was squandered is something to be discussed in great detail in other forums, but ponder this: How do you assemble a team of terrific actors with an excellent writer, and still manage to screw things up?
It has always been clear, to me at least, that when Oscar-worthy actors look bad, it’s usually the director’s fault. And so I feel bad for Josh Trank. Even given the promise he showed directing 2012’s "Chronicle," it turns out this time, he was in way over his head. WAY over his head.
"Fantastic Four" is an origin story. We first meet young genius Reed Richards as a little kid in a public school in Queens, New York. Forced to go in front of his class and discuss what he aspires to be, he says he wants to be able to transport matter through the air. His teacher, played by Dan Castellaneta as perhaps the worst teacher ever, poops all over Reed’s dream and embarrasses the little nerd in front of the class, but Reed doesn’t seem to care. He just goes back to his seat and starts scribbling complex mathematic equations in his notebook.
While the other students stare with disdain, fellow student Ben Grimm looks on with curiosity and a bit of admiration. The two become friends.
Seven years later, grown-up Reed (Miles Teller) and Ben (Jamie Bell) are at the high school science fair when Reed is approached by Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) and his adopted daughter, Sue (Kate Mara), who tells Reed they want to give him a scholarship to their Baxter Institute. The Storms are working on an inter-dimensional matter transporter (in New York, we call it the subway) Dr. Storm believes can take them to another dimension that ultimately can save our dying planet.
Why or how our planet is dying is never addressed, but Storm also believes Reed can supply the final piece to the puzzle.
What a fun narrative, right? Dr. Storm also convinces his former student, the mercurial Victor Von Doom, to return to the institute to work on the project now that Reed’s on the team. Inorganically injected into the story is Dr. Storm’s son, Johnny, played by Michael B. Jordan (who easily should’ve been an Oscar nominee for 2013’s "Fruitvale Station"), a hothead who hasn’t lived up to his father’s expectations.
Spoiler alert! Something goes wrong with the experiment, and Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben develop super powers and become the Fantastic Four!
Sadly, what actually starts out as a decent enough movie devolves into a film in which great actors who are supposed to be speaking to each other spend half the time seeming as if they’re not speaking to anybody. There are scenes in this movie where I wasn’t even sure all of the actors on the screen were in the same room. The production values are inconsistent as well; the other dimension looks less like an alien landscape and more like a fancy screensaver.
It’s possible fanboys and girls could propel “Fantastic Four” to a strong opening weekend, giving Fox enough justification to make a sequel. If so, I hope they pick a director who can shoulder the responsibility.
It’s also my hope Trank continues to direct and eventually works his way up to a big-budget blockbuster everyone who saw “Chronicle” knows he’s capable of handling.
For now, the only big screen on which "Fantastic Four" deserves to be seen is the one in your living room, on a Saturday afternoon, on Syfy.