Fantastic Four is short and to the point, but pointless.
If you were clamoring for a reboot of the Fantastic Four movie franchise ever since 2007’s Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, you can probably assume that you’re in a small minority. I can safely say that not many people were interested in a new Fantastic Four movie, nevermind watching an attempt to relaunch the franchise in a more dark, gritty, and “character driven” storyline, a la X-Men: First Class and just about every superhero movie these days. Not all super hero movies need to follow the same exact formula again and again and again. It’s getting tiresome. The new Fantastic Four is no different. Even considering its weak editing and laughable story structure, it still manages to fall victim to comic book adaptation formula. I will concede one small victory to it—a reasonably short running time of 1 hour 45 minutes. It was nice to see a comic book film stay under 2 hours, though it was quite apparent that the F4 editors had no idea how to keep the pace and plotline efficient within that timeframe. In the end, Fantastic Four is not strong enough to stand on its own few merits, nor is it able to push a disappointing franchise forward.
Fantastic Four is what I like to call a “name tag” movie. It doesn’t have enough character arc complexity to qualify as an origin story (though yes, it technically is), and there isn’t enough well-structured conflict to mold the characters into their recognizable personas by the end. Fantastic Four is a surface level introduction, a “name tag”. We learn the names of these iconic characters, and some general information about where they’re from and what they’re like, but not much changes for these characters, played by the bad child actors in the film’s opening and the under-utilized stellar cast in the remaining three quarters. With Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell on your cast list, you’re seeing the most talented lineup of young actors in Hollywood. But place any strong skill in a unsupportive environment and you’re not going to see the skill at its full potential. No, none of these actors rise to the occasion in Fantastic Four. Even Dr. Doom, one of Marvel’s most iconic and despicable villains, gets more than a shred of screen time before an rushed and anticlimactic finale. Again, the 106 min. runtime is appreciated, though!
I also feel that Fantastic Four is being kicked while its down. It really didn’t have much going for it aside from its cast, so after a long road of harsh criticisms, such as its unnecessary green light, to racist reactions for the casting of Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch, the film couldn’t have been set with lower expectations (also publicized issues between the studio and the director, Josh Trank, who was later fired from ‘Star Wars’). Yet, somehow, a messy script and editing job foiled what maybe, kinda, possibly, could’ve been an interestingly weird gritty science fiction origin story. But I’m also tired of franchises going “gritty and dark” for the sake of looking more intelligent, introspective, and deep. No, they’re not smarter films—they’re just more depressing and more often than not, boring. Lighten up, Hollywood! Either find something original or find something familiar, but don’t try to make one the other.
Like Fantastic Four, this review has gotten messily tangential, so I’ll just say—skip this movie. Or, stream it later if you must. Luckily it won’t take up too much of your time. #106min
Fantastic Four opens in theaters today, Aug. 7th.