What It’s About
Dull and dingy, “Fantastic Four” crashes and burns, likely dashing plans for a 2017 sequel and deflating any chance of building a fresh franchise.
Fox’s abysmal reboot of Marvel Comics’ longest-running team of superheroes shamefully wastes the talents of four fine young actors, who can do only so much with their poorly written roles.
Director Josh Trank (“Chronicle”) brings nothing new and lacks the imagination necessary for a snazzy sci-fi adventure. As one of the three screenwriters, he has unwisely reworked the original plot developed by Stan Lee in 1961, along with Jack Kirby.
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That beginning had the quartet hit by cosmic rays during space travel and developed super powers, but here they are college students working on a teleporter experiment. When a botched mission lands them on a dangerous planet with a toxic surface, their molecular structure is affected.
The team, under the watchful eye of the government, is: Mister Fantastic (Miles Teller, playing Reed Richards), who could stretch like rubber; The Invisible Woman (Kate Mara, playing Sue Storm); The Human Torch (Michael B. Jordan, playing Johnny Storm); and The Thing (Jamie Bell, playing Ben Grimm), strong, powerful and covered in rocks.
The gloomy Victor resurfaces as Dr. Doom, friend turned foe. So of course, they must try to save the world, as soon as they figure out how to harness their newfangled powers. They can get a wee bit grumpy about their physical changes.
Lee, the film’s producer, is MIA for his cameo that we’ve come to expect in every Marvel film. No wonder he wants to distance himself from this misfire.
A colorless script has resulted in bland characters. At least we’ve seen the young actors give good performances elsewhere when they have interesting material — Teller in “Whiplash,” Jordan in “Fruitvale Station,” Bell in “Snowpiercer” and Mara in “House of Cards.”
The film’s running time is only an hour and a half, but the pace is so lethargic that it feels as if three hours has gone by.
What Doesn’t Work
After an uninspired trailer came out earlier this summer, the prevailing sentiment was that this film, with a start date was pushed back several times, was a hot mess. The early word about a colossal debacle turned out to be true, and it’s sad.
Devoid of humor and logic, the film is an exercise in frustration. By concentrating on the origins, the actors spend much time talking, and the boring exposition means there is little reason to invest in the story. The action shows up about two-thirds’ in, but it’s too little, too late.
Perhaps we are over-saturated with movies based on comic book heroes, and there’s more to come in the next few years. Oh, someone could dare to make a stand, and say: “Enough, all ready. Slow it down — quit churning out these by-the-numbers cash-grabs so quickly, unless you provide compelling characters and stunning vistas.
“Fantastic Four” reeks. This dreary disaster needed a mojo injection, and it’s a mystery that the finished product even got this far.
1 star out of 4
Director: Josh Trank
Starring: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Michael B. Jordan, Toby Kebbell, Ben E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson
Rated: PG-13 for sci-fi violence and language