Fantastic Four (2015)

Fantastic Four (2015)
  • Time: 100 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
  • Director: Josh Trank
  • Cast: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan


Fantastic Four, a contemporary re-imagining of Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero team, centers on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.


  • There are two things to keep in mind coming into and watching Fantastic Four. One, it is directed by Josh Trank. Two, it is a Marvel movie made by 20th Century Fox. (It is also worth noting that this is Fox’s second stab at this material, having released the generally unacclaimed 2005 film and its equally derided 2007 sequel, Rise of the Silver Surfer).)

    This reboot is Trank’s second feature film, but not his first foray into the genre. His debut, Chronicle, was an inventive and resourceful found footage look at how three high school friends dealt with their mysteriously acquired superpowers. Fantastic Four concerns itself with the same theme and goes one further, in many respects intending to be a superhero origin story that willfully avoids its final destination as a superhero film. In this respect, Trank’s approach matches the route taken by Gareth Edwards in last year’s Godzilla, in which Edwards shrouded the main attraction until the last possible moment. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this tactic but it does go against what audiences are primed to expect. Who knows how Trank’s Fantastic Four would have turned out under the supervision of Marvel Studios, but one gets the strong sense that Fox studio heads interfered, resulting in a partial and severely compromised version of Trank’s original vision.

    The film starts at the beginning of the friendship between science prodigy Reed Richards (played as an adult by Miles Teller) and Ben Grimm (played as an adult by Jamie Bell), who lives in an abusive and dysfunctional home. Reed has been building a teleporter, a shuttle that can transport matter through space, but it isn’t until his school science fair project is seen by Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) and his adopted daughter Sue (Kate Mara) that Reed gets the opportunity to fully carry out his creation.

    Ben accompanies Reed to the Baxter Institute and, realising the academy is exactly where his childhood friend belongs, bids farewell to Reed. Dr. Storm assembles Reed, Sue, his hotheaded son Johnny (Chronicle alum Michael B. Jordan), and former prized pupil Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) to work together to perfect the teleportation device in order to access an alternate dimension from which potential resources can be mined. Brows are furrowed, eraser boards huddled over, and computer screens stared at. An ill-advised visit to the alternate dimension concludes with the group cursed with powers. Reed develops the ability to stretch his limbs, Johnny becomes a human fireball, Sue has the capacity to turn invisible and cast force fields. Ben, whom Reed had coaxed along for the ride, transforms into a rock creature.

    The acquisition of their powers is where Trank most upends the usual tropes of the genre. Unlike most films of its ilk, the quartet’s special abilities are no cause for celebration. Thematically, this is closer to X-Men than The Avengers but even the former, with its socio-political commentary on those outside the parameters of convention, never displayed such horror at the changes its protagonists have undergone. The sight of Sue flickering in and out of visibility may be mild, but Johnny screaming at full flame, Reed’s limbs stretched to unbearable lengths, and Ben’s wailings emanating from the boulder that has become his body border on the grotesque, tipping the film into horror territory.

    And then the film flashes forward to one year later and proceeds to fall apart at an alarming rate. Fantastic Four suddenly rushes to become a superhero film and then ends on a chipper note, a frankly discordant chord that betrays all the notes that came before it. One can blame the truncation and overall stop-and-start pacing on the studio’s meddlesome mandates, but Trank’s vision was by no means perfect and he does bear some responsibility in how his foundation was so easily weakened. There is a lack of connectivity that plagues the film, and it diminishes the conflicts Trank and his co-writers Jeremy Slater and Simon Kinberg establish throughout the film.

    One never feels the bond between any of the characters. In fact, it would not be the least bit surprising if all the actors had been separately filmed and then spliced together in the editing room. The leads are a talented group and they do the best they can, but they fail to generate any interest. It’s difficult to engage in their professional and personal entanglements – this is where the actors’ ages work against the film since it sometimes feels like Fantastic Four High – and even harder to accept the planetary peril at hand when much of the film takes place in either the hermetic confines of the institute or the barren environs of the alternate dimension.

    For all the film’s many flaws, there is a certain watchability to this so-so offering though Fox would be well-advised not to greenlight a sequel.

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  • Ever since it went into production Fantastic Four has been the subject of massive controversy from the casting of Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch to the news of director Josh Trank’s bad behaviour on-set – something which allegedly got him fired from his Star Wars too – It’s a film that seems to have been doomed from the very start and well let’s just say that all these problems have manifested themselves in the worst way possible.

    I’m not gonna try to explain the plot since well, there isn’t any, so basically this movie follows the story of four ‘outsiders’ as IMDb puts it, played by Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, and Michael B. Jordan (yes, they become the Fantastic 4) who get teleported into an alternate dimension, get these weird powers, blah, blah, origin story, blah, blah they need to learn how to use these powers, blah, blah, there’s a friend who’s turned into their enemy. This is usually the plot-line for every first super-hero movie in a franchise and I usually don’t mind it. But you see, Fantastic Four isn’t like every other superhero movie.

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  • Quickie Review:

    Genius young scientist Reed Richards (Miles Teller) builds a teleportation device to another dimension. After visiting the other dimension a tragic accident leaves the four young outsiders with shocking new abilities. As an old threat comes back, the four must team up to face Doom (Toby Kebbell) together. Fantastic Four is a failure on multiple levels. The characters are underdeveloped, the pacing is completely off, the villain is generic and bland, the story is lacking, and most importantly it is not fun. Fantastic Four is so dull, with little redeeming qualities that it may cause you to think that the previous attempts at this franchise were actually decent in comparison.

    Full Review:

    What happened!? I was among the few in my group of friends who was genuinely excited and was rooting for this new incarnation of the Fantastic Four. It has a great cast, writer, and director, all the essentials to make a good movie but somehow, almost nothing clicked.

    It is a pity that the movie didn’t work considering the cast. They were the one decent aspect of the entire movie. Despite the occasional awkward dialogue, at least they gave it their all to their respective roles. In fact they may be the reason why in the first 30mins I thought “this isn’t so bad, what was all the fuss about?” Of course, I spoke too soon because the movie randomly starts to lose track of its own plot.

    Where do I even begin with the negatives? I am not an avid Fantastic Four comic reader but even I know that they are supposed to be a family. At no point did I feel them sincerely bonding with each other.  Near the end they throw a couple of punches together for about a minute, and that apparently constitutes as teamwork. It all felt contrived, only Reed and Ben’s relationship was believable and that’s because we see them together as kids in the beginning of the movie. Other than that it makes no sense why these four would be working together. And that’s not something I should be questioning!!!

    Then the pacing, or lack there off. The problem is that the purpose of the whole movie is to setup the characters of the Fantastic Four for the next movie. So there is no coherent storyline. It is just stuffed with filler scenes of people sitting in front of computers, people deeply brooding, or lame practice montage to fill the run-time till the villain shows up.

    As for the villain, first of all, the character design for Doom is horrendous. He looks like a crash test dummy with a burnt curtain on his head. He has one of the shallowest motivations for being villain. Then, in a typical dumb villain style, is almighty powerful that he can literally blow people’s heads with his mind but will refuse to use this power against the heroes. Because you know, you don’t want to make things too easy for yourself right?

    The biggest sin of this movie is that it feels like the film studio and creator are ashamed at even the idea of Fantastic Four. These characters in comics are colourful and have funny banter with each other. But the filmmakers were so concerned about coming off campy that they went unnecessarily dark to the point that even the characters don’t embrace their hero names. We live in a day and age where audiences are embracing a talking tree, gun-toting racoon, and a guy who controls ants. So show some pride in the fact that you are the Fantastic Four! Or at least fake it so we feel less ashamed of watching this fantastic disaster.

    Everything that could go wrong with this film, went wrong. There was so much potential, and you see glimpses of that in the first 30-45mins of the movies. But then the movie quickly divulges into a meandering plot that concludes with one of the most abrupt endings in recent times. You better off watching the 2005 or 2007 Fantastic Four movies… and I can’t believe I am saying that.

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  • “Where’d the rocks come from? From the same place the car went to. Where is that? I don’t know yet.”

    During my youth I spent many hours next door with the neighbor boy. Not just for having fun or horsing around, but also because in their veranda there was a disused closet with sliding doors where you could always find some old comics lying around. I suppose these were from the older brother who was a real comic fan. Many hours I spent sitting in front of that closet, reading them all. Comics like “Archie the man of steel”, DC comics and of course Marvel. My favorite was “The Fantastic Four”. This series I found extremely fascinating and that because it was a collective, consisting of several superheroes with different super powers. They formed a close-knit family and their identity was known to the population so these heroes had a rather family character. Actually, they were a little bit the forerunners of “The Avengers” and the figure of “The Hulk” resembled that of Ben.

    Unfortunately, this film is labeled as an unnecessary and worthless reboot. I partially agree with that. The only thing is that I can’t judge whether this is an unnecessary reboot or not. I’ve never seen the previous films made in 1994 and 2005. Saying this is a failure or total disaster though, is something I don’t fully agree with. A big part of the film I enjoyed watching and personally I thought it was interesting enough. The introduction of the various members of the unprecedented four was extremely captivating. The beginning showed a young Reed Richards (Judge Owen). A genius who seemed to come from Mars, according to some of his classmates, and who’s building a futuristic machine in the garage. A missing component he finds on a junkyard where he bumps into young Ben Grimm (Evan Hannemann). The experiment proves to be a success and things can be materialized to an unknown destination and brought back again. Years later Reed (Miles Teller) and Ben (Jamie Bell) attend a science fair, where they attract the attention of Dr. Storm (Reg E. Cathey) and his daughter Sue (Kate Mara). And before they know it, they are in a sophisticated lab rebuilding their invention on a large scale.

    This introduction was the most successful part for me. It felt like an adventure film in which a boy pursues the realization of a dream. In an amateurish and childish way, the prototype of something big is made out of junk (a bit like in “Project Almanac”). Also the introduction to the various members who become part of “The Fantastic Four” in the Baxter Foundation, made this film different of other superhero movies. Mostly this part is kept short so they can move on to the action part immediately. The moment things start going wrong with the four noticing something happened to their bodies after they’ve jumped to the other dimension (while being drunk), it’s still interesting enough. You witness how each of them discover their new capacities. But when the action-packed part of the film starts, it’s no longer fantastic. It turns into an uninspired, quickly made up heroes-movie. As if they suddenly realized that stuff should be in it too. The visuals of the other dimension are still enjoyable, but the final stage feels rather flat and not very original. And certainly because nowadays as a moviegoer, you’re buried under tons of superhero-movies.

    Ultimately, this film emphasizes the formation of and relationships between the members of “The Fantastic Four”. The superhero action that you ultimately expect, is fairly limited. A film that takes 90 minutes, with only a demonstration of superpowers and a final clash of fifteen minutes, can hardly be seen as a superhero movie. Perhaps this change was welcome anyway, after all the Marvel releases in recent years. The fatigue comes into play when it’s about this genre. Perhaps the final part of the movie wasn’t so great, but it wasn’t painfully bad either. And now I’ll just wait for “Deadpool” ….

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