a critiQal film review Fantastic Four (2015)

Plot: Transported to an alternate universe, four young outsiders gain superhuman powers as they alter their physical form in shocking ways. Reed Richards (Teller) becomes Mr. Fantastic, able to stretch and twist his body at will, while pal Ben Grimm (Bell) gains immense strength as the Thing. Johnny Storm (Jordan) becomes the Human Torch, able to control and project fire, while his sister Sue (Mara) becomes the Invisible Woman. Together, the team must harness their new abilities to prevent Doctor Doom (Kebbell) from destroying the Earth.

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So what was the biggest thing about the summer of 2015? Was it Jurassic World (2015) bringing dinosaurs back in a big way? Was it Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)? Naw…it was the bad reviews that surrounded Fantastic Four like a black cloud. With the kind of negative publicity this film got, it’s a wonder it did any business at the box office at all.

While that may have dissuaded us from seeing the film in theaters, we still wanted to check out Fantastic Four once it became available for home viewing. After all, we have been known to go against the critics before (the critically-loved Spider-Man (2002) was just awful). So, would this remake/reboot be worth our time?

Fantastic Four showcases a much younger cast than viewers are used to seeing in the roles. Still, the cast is surprisingly good in their roles. Miles Teller (as Mr. Fantastic) and Michael B. Jordan (as The Human Torch) have the most to do in the film, and do a good job making the characters their own. Kate Mara (The Invisible Woman) also does a good job, and her interactions with Teller are fun to watch. Viewers can see the beginnings of the relationship they already know about, and it’s fun to watch the first tentative steps. Jamie Bell, on the other hand, is ill-used until his transformation.

And then there’s the villain. Toby Kebbell, as Victor Von Doom, shows a bit of the maniacal in his interactions with the others. But, it’s his jealousy after watching Mara and Teller flirting that really shows the beginnings of the villainy to come. Despite being much different than the comics, he’s got a decent start as the villain.

The storyline, at first, seems pretty good. While the film builds slowly to the transformative stage viewers know is coming, it sets up the characters rather nicely. Viewers should enjoy the introductory portion of the film, as each individual is introduced and slowly moved into proximity with each other.

Unfortunately, this setup portion takes up a larger than expected part of the film. With so much time being used up, viewers will begin to wonder if the superhero team will actually ever get their powers. Finally, the team goes through their transformations – and that’s where things really start falling apart.

Almost immediately, the now Mr. Fantastic takes off for parts unknown, leaving the viewer to gape as the rest of the team slowly learns to control their abilities. He inevitably comes back, but by that time a large rift has formed between him and the rest of the team. The rift, by the way, is entirely baseless, and could be cleared up by a simple explanation – BUT IT NEVER HAPPENS. Without that explanation, the rift totally negates the entire lead up, as the friendship showcased between him and Ben Grimm is a thing of the past, as is any strides he and Sue were making towards their future relationship together.

With the reemergence of the also-changed Dr. Doom, the film suddenly stops going in slow motion, and jumps into fast forward. Quickly, the four heroes are the only ones left to challenge Doom. Just as suddenly, they unite to put a stop to the foe. While this is typical superhero fare, it doesn’t work for Fantastic Four. After all, they all supposedly still have a grudge against Mr. Fantastic. But that seems to have been forgotten already (and never once mentioned again) as the team plunges through a myriad of special effects.

While the special effects are impressive (especially the new version of The Thing), the viewer has gotten a bit too disgusted with the film to really care what’s going on anymore. Toss in some special effects that make the characters a bit hard to find, and it doesn’t help matters at all. Then there’s Doom’s powers. He apparently has god-like powers, but what exactly he can do is never quite explained. That’s another bizarre aspect of the film, since Victor was such an integral part of the first portion.

It’s like the filmmakers were going along with their story, but couldn’t come up with a climactic battle sequence. Finally, they realized they’d forgotten about Doom, so had their villain. But with time constraints on how much more they could add to the film, they hurriedly threw an ending together.

It’s strange, really. Fantastic Four starts out well in the introductory portion, which, while long-winded, is fun to watch. Then they finally get to the good stuff – you know, the reason why viewers are going to see the film in the first place – and rush through it as quickly as they can. It doesn’t make any sense at all, and viewers will walk away feeling let down.

Oh…and did I mention they are never actually called Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, The Human Torch or The Thing at all? Ugh.

With the filmmakers already apologizing for the film and promising a sequel that viewers will enjoy, their may still be hope for this team in the future. With the decent cast, there’s potential. It’s just a pity they couldn’t realize that potential with this film.

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