Over the weekend, my younger sister and I went to go see “Fantastic Four.” As a huge comic nerd in high school (who still very much reveres the universe of comic books, even if they haven’t been my go-to reading material in the past few years), I was supremely excited for the film reboot of these characters. The casting looked amazing (how can you not love Michael B. Jordan after his arc in Parenthood, one of the greatest tv shows of all time?). The original franchise certainly wasn’t, in my opinion, that bad; but I assumed this reboot could only improve on the characters and their storyline. Rumors were that it would be different. Rumors were that it would be more about after their Powers instead of how they got them. And then I saw the film and was utterly underwhelmed.
Beware, spoilers come after the cut.
Let’s start with the good. The casting of this film was stellar. The actors all embodied the characters we know and love well. Their acting abilities were one of the highlights of the film- Kate Mara, in particular, was a fantastic Sue Storm. Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm and newcomer (maybe just to me) Toby Kebbell as the incredibly sexy Victor Von Doom had me feeling feels with just a look. The cast, right from the beginning seemed to assure of a great, film to come, as fantastic as it’s title…. But that’s about where my praises end.
Let me clarify. There wasn’t anything absolutely horribly wrong with the film. It was just… underwhelming for all it’s potential. You never really get to get attached to the characters. The epic scenes are short; it’s a film that doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be- a major summer epic or a character study of these dimensional characters portrayed by talented actors fully capable of making you fall in love with who they play, if only the film had decided on which direction it want to take.
The beginning seems to hint at a character study. You a start to get to know these characters, their world just a bit. You see Victors state of mind as a misunderstood, slightly troubled young man who doesn’t seem to quite fit in. You see him in love with Sue. You see Sue falling in love with Reed (Miles Teller) and yo start to feel the sympathy that comes with a desperate love triangle. You hardly get to know Ben or Johnny, their characters being portrayed as brief side characters despite, perhaps, being two of the most interesting. At what feels like the climax, where the five gain their powers, you suddenly realize the film is not actually come to a close and leaving you hanging on for more but suddenly spinning an entirely new direction that slows down the pace and feels similar to whiplash suddenly we’re jumping ahead and jumping ahead again, getting only brief glimpses at these characters trying to deal with their new abilities and then suddenly facing an epic battle that lasts all of five seconds. The film tries to highlight it though, thrives to make this moment… I’m not entirely sure. It felt all too much like Man of Steel, where instead of being epic it tries too hard and falls short. You suddenly lose interest in the characters and are mildly entertained until you notice how easily and nicely things are wrapped up in a big red bow.
The film lacks the tension you want to find, and in my humble opinion would have served itself far better if it had been split into two films; the first a tale of the group achieving their powers as they did in the film and coming to a conclusion as they deal with those powers and come to have some control over them, some sense of teamwork and lust to be a just cause for the world. The second film would pick up from there, with the foursome facing Von Doom after the first film gave us a Marvel-esque hint by showing a shot of a moving, human-shaped form on Planet Zero during or after the credits.
There was so much potential here and it was squandered by the writers, directors, or maybe the producers (if anyone knows who’s to blame for wasting such an impeccable casts talents, please let me know). I’ll still be looking out for the second one that (according to IMDB) has been green lit, and I’ll likely buy this one when I stumble across it on sale (have I mentioned my love for Michael B. Jordan yet?), but if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s definitely okay to catch at the dollar theater or when it’s out on DVD at redbox (or, preferably, through your local library. Did yo know most of them let you borrow feature films?).
Have you seen it? What did you think? If not, do you want to or are you uninterested in it (why?)?