“Change is Coming”
Directed by Josh Trank
Starring Miles Teller, Jamie Bell, Kate Mara, Michael B Jordan and Toby Kebbell
Child genius Reed Richards (Teller, or he will be when he grows up) builds a teleporter with the help of his friend Ben Grimm (Bell, again, once they grow up.) Dismissed by teachers throughout their lives, Reed is at last recruited by Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) to work on his interdimensional teleporter, along with his adopted daughter Sue (Mara) and tearaway son Johnny (Jordan), and the originator of Storm’s programme, grumpy Latverian Victor von Doom (Kebbell).
They complete the teleporter, but when their government sponsors decide to hand all use of the device to NASA, Reed, Victor and Johnny get drunk and rope Ben into a joyride into a dimension of rocks and CGI. There, Victor falls into a sea of energy and an explosion follows them through, transforming the three travelers and Sue, who is trying to bring them back.
Reed escapes and the government trains the other three, employing Ben – now a massive being of rock – as a military asset and grooming Johnny – who can catch fire and fly – to do the same. Sue learns to become invisible and manipulate forcefields, but it is her native pattern matching brilliance that allows her to locate Reed – working on his new stretching abilities in hiding – to help complete a new version of the teleporter on the promise of finding a cure.
The next mission finds Victor and brings him back, but he slaughters his way through the base and tries to suck the world into the other dimension… for shiggles? As fuel? Because he can? I don’t know; anyway, the other four stop him, then basically strongarm the government to get a cool lab.
What’s wrong with it?
Fantastic Four is really weirdly paced. It’s hella short, most of it is build up, and it misses most of the ‘learning to use their powers’ section before jumping to a really short denoument with almost no confrontation between Richards and Doom besides the punch up.
Seriously, they fucked up Doom. Again. Reckless genius, check. Latverian dictator, partial credit. Metal mask… not so much. And he’s intent on destroying the world and building a new one and has no magic or care for Latveria.
Despite the fact that Richards is the one who can’t hold him from falling, the personal grudge gets less screen time than Doom’s crush on Sue.
Like Man of Steel, most of the really interesting bits of the story seem to have been skipped. Unlike Man of Steel there is precious little spectacle to take their place.
Also like Man of Steel, the colour palette is kind of muted.
The Thing’s catchphrase is way less cute when Ben’s big brother uses it when he’s bullying him.
During the transition back to the world, Ben’s capsule is filled with rocks, Johnny’s with fire, but there is no reason for Reed to be stretchy or Sue invisible.
What’s right with it?
There are some really nice moments in the film, like Ben bringing a practical touch to Reed’s theoretical genius, and the effects are pretty amazing, if not quite spectacular.
Sue is never embarrassingly left naked due to an invisible wardrobe malfunction.
How bad is it really?
It’s just… dull. In an era of amazing superhero movies, it’s so… half-arsed. It almost feels unfinished, as if they didn’t manage to get all of it done and yet released it anyway.
Best bit (if such there is)?
The other dimension is kind of gorgeous.
What’s up with…?
- White Sue Storm? There wasn’t any huge reason for her to be adopted, so why not cast the whole family black?
- The rushed denoument? There’s more set up in the trailer than in the movie.
Production values – It’s pretty shiny, all told, but despite some epic alien landscapes,lacks something in the way of grandeur. 5
Dialogue and performances – The performances are universally good, but there isn’t a lot of zing in the script. It does what it needs to do and no more, without punch or panache. Seriously; you know you’re in trouble when Doom doesn’t even nibble on the scenery. 16
Plot and execution – So much set-up for so little pay off. The pacing is just… completely shot on this one. 19
Randomness – Given that they make a point of explaining why Ben and Johnny get rock and flame powers, it is especially odd that Reed and Sue’s water and air themes are unexplained. 11
Waste of potential – It’s probably the best Fantastic Four movie ever, but by the standards of modern superhero movies it’s pretty poor. 13