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Fantastic Four Review: This Marvel Reboot Is Doomed

By Julian Roman — August 6th, 2015

Fantastic Four is a colossal disappointment. It seems unfathomable, but this reboot is actually a worse film than the previous two. Yes, those awful Jessica Alba clunkers that burned your eyeballs with lameness are superior to this movie. It is mind boggling how so many seemingly good parts could have been assembled into such a bad product. Fox and Marvel dropped the ball off a cliff here. Fantastic Four is so dismal, I really can't think of a single redeemable virtue. This franchise is dead on arrival.

The story begins with Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) as children. Richards invents a machine that shuttles matter from one place to the next - a teleporter. Years later at his high school science fair, he is mocked and ridiculed for a working model of the device. Insert Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) and his adopted daughter, Sue (Kate Mara). They have been closely following Reed's work. Their organization, The Baxter Institute, has developed a similar device. However, they inform him that the teleporter transports matter to another world...drumroll please...in a different dimension.

Toby Kebbell costars as Victor Von Doom, a sociopathic protégé of Dr. Storm with a crush on Sue. He overcomes his jealousy, works with Reed, and along with Sue's hard-charging brother Johnny (Michael B. Jordan), they complete a fully operational device. Only to be devastated when a corporate stooge (Tim Blake Nelson) takes over the project for military use. Wanting to be the first humans on the alien world, the intrepid scientists decide to sneak in and use the teleporter. But Reed has to have his childhood pal Ben along for the historic voyage. The resulting journey is a tragic catastrophe. That imbues powerful abilities on the team, but hideously transforms Victor and Ben.

The screenplay by Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater, and Director Josh Trank is terrible. The characters are poorly developed, the settings are boring, and the climax is underwhelming. The film is such a snoozer. It never grabs your interest, not for a second. I can't imagine what the filmmakers saw in this story. My theory is that they wanted to avoid convention and not write a 'ten pages and a bang' script. The result is a painfully slow movie that just never gets going. Even when they start exhibiting their powers, it is oddly dull and flat. You've really failed when The Human Torch and The Thing are totally unexciting.

Fantastic Four was miscast. The lead actors, especially Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan are quite talented. Their previous roles have proven their skill. But not everyone can play a superhero well. I liken it to the same reason Kurt Russell wasn't cast as Han Solo. They just don't fit the parts. It's quite distressing because this was the primary concern of fans. But with Marvel's stellar track record, you just had to believe that the filmmakers saw something in the actors that would lead to comic adaptation gold. Nope, worst fears come true. The fanboys were right.

The interracial makeup of the Storm family is awkwardly addressed in a brief conversation. The goal here, obviously, is to add diversity. Means nothing to me. It would have been fine if Sue and Johnny pulled off being siblings. They don't. Kate Mara and Michael B. Jordan have zero chemistry. The film does nothing to establish a back story between them. Sibling rivalry could have been used to generate tension and make the characters more relatable. It seems awfully stupid to cast this way and do absolutely nothing with it.

Toby Kebbell and Jamie Bell are wasted in this film. They are one note and have little screen time. Kebbell's Doom, through no fault of his own, is the feeblest villain we've seen on screen from Marvel. It's such a disservice to a great comic character. Ben Grimm looks exactly like The Thing, but poor Jamie Bell has a few meager lines and no exposition. I seriously cannot understand how the studio and filmmakers allowed these characterizations to happen.

The final act of Fantastic Four is appalling. The showdown with Doom, after we've suffered for ninety minutes and begging for something remotely cool, is staggeringly bad. The dialogue where they concoct the team moniker is just awful. The perfect swansong for an embarrassingly poor film. Marvel finally drops a stinker. Fantastic Four will break your fanboy hearts.

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