The new Fantastic Four movie has received so many negative reviews that you’d think you’d get contact cosmic radiation from watching the film. As of the time of this review, Fantastic Four was holding firm at 10% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, which is good enough – or bad enough – for a tie (with Pixels) for the summer’s worst movie. We’ll get to the movie’s cons in a bit, but let’s discuss what the film did well first. Yes, there are some highlights.
The cast showed signs of chemistry. The actors Fox cast as the FF are some of Hollywood’s most promising young stars, so the chemistry wasn’t a huge surprise. You got a sense of depth and history. The love triangle between Sue Storm, Reed Richards, and Victor von Doom was understated and worked for the most part. Sue and Johnny Storm showed levels of sibling love and familial responsibility. We even saw Ben and Reed’s friendship begin and grow.
The final five to ten minutes gave fans some hope for the series’ second installment. Fox announced a Fantastic Four sequel, which is set for a June 2017 release, before the first movie even opened. (They have to retain their movie rights.) Thank goodness we saw a team that more resembled the Fantastic Four, even if it was just before the credits rolled.
This might be a horrible case of optimism on my part, but the acting performances and the glimpse of a true Fantastic Four at the movie’s end, left me hopeful.
There’s plenty to not like about Fantastic Four, but most of the internet’s ire stems from the movie’s slow pace and the grim versions of the characters, and I can’t disagree with them.
(Director) Trank built an iceberg of a plot with little payoff. The glacial pace reminded me of a low budget sci-fi film where the focus is on asking a thought provoking question about humanity, but we’re never given a thought provoking question. At its heart, Fantastic Four should be a comic book movie and yet it tried to apologize for how ridiculous a man bursting into flames is. Note to Fox: You don’t have to apologize. The customers who paid for admission expect to see a man burst into flames.
To make matters worse, every character had a chip on their shoulder, and not just the literal chip for the Thing. This movie was the emo version of the Fantastic Four: the Fantastic Four who could star in a Zoloft commercial. I never cared for the brooding nature of Ultimate Fantastic Four (the comic of which the new Fantastic Four movie is based). It says something when Doctor Doom looks like the well-adjusted one emotionally.
Speaking of Doom, he got built up as blood-thirsty and all-powerful, and then he got beaten by a thirty-second-old superhero team in record time. If you were expecting one of Reed and Victor’s classic battle of wits, don’t. The way the Fantastic Four takes out Doc Doom could be found on any elementary school playground.
Prior to Fantastic Four’s release, fans were belly aching that Johnny Storm was recast as an African-American. This casting choice didn’t hurt the film and since Michael B. Jordan gave a solid performance, Fantastic Four benefited from the recasting. They may look different, but you could tell Sue and Johnny were family. So “we don’t need hateration, holleration’ in this dance for me.” It’s okay to add a little flavor to Marvel’s vanilla ice cream team of superheroes.
Even though Fantastic Four has earned most of its hateration, it’s still worth a movie rental for those moments of fine acting. I wouldn’t spend the extra dough for the theatrical release unless you can catch it at a bargain movie theater. If you’re a huge FF fan, you might consider a matinee.