Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four: 100-Minute Trailer of a Move that Never Happens

It is a possibility that ‘Fantastic Four’ is cursed or maybe its material isn’t suitable enough to be made into a film probably because the third attempt of making it into a big screen movie ended in disaster, again. Josh Tranks directs the new version of the Fantastic Four, whose debut movie was able to earn ten times more money than its $12 million investment. Therefore, the movie arrived weighed down by a lot of expectations and not to mention the costly reshoots, the rumored fights on sets, the change of a key character and the awkward promo interviews. The core characters of Marvel’s Fantastic Four are Reed Richards, Johnny and Sue Storm, Ben Grimm aka The Thing and Dr. Doom.

The good news? The movie is short. The downside? It feels too long as there is nothing solid to watch in Fantastic Four. There is only a bunch of attitudes and character traits that are fitfully brought to life by actors who may have mistakenly assumed they were hopping aboard the superhero movie gravy train, but ended up on this horrible misfire. An intriguing note kicks off the movie when 11-year-old Richard Reed sneaks into the Grimm family junkyard for stealing a transformer he needs in order to build a tiny teleportation device. That’s when he meets Ben Grimm.

In a flash forward, we arrive in the present where Miles Teller’s Reed and Jaime Bell’s Grimm are wreaking havoc at a science fair with their invention. Even though the machine shatters a gymnasium’s backboard, causes an unnerving rumble and brown-out the power, it is an impressive display that causes Reg E. Cathey’s Dr. Franklin Storm to hire Reed to work at the Baxter Institute. The institute has been trying to resolve the mystery of Planet Zero, the place where all teleported objects end up.

The next hour of the movie is the usual superhero origin story; we meet the two super-intelligent kids of the doctor. Kate Mara’s Sue Storm is quite science-minded, but introduced in street race that seems to have been picked up from the Fast and Furious movie, Michael B. Jordan’s Johnny is a juvenile delinquent. Another key member of the team is Dr. Victor von Doom, the arch-villain of the comic and anyone who knows the source material is aware that he will be transformed into an all-powerful megalomaniac. Sue and Doom used to be together because of which he doesn’t like her bantering with Reed over monitors and keyboards.

Toby Kebbell has taken up this role and is quite good in it as his glowering and world-weariness is a contrast against the blandness of the rest of the characters. Even Jordan’s Johnny, who’s supposed to be the utter bad boy, is just a muscular guy who occasionally quips and sneers, rather like Chris Evans in the previous films. Anyway, for a while, the movie tries to re-conceive the scientific mystery adventure about solving the puzzle posed by the teleportation gate; a mission is to be sent to Planet Zero to find out what’s there.

This approach is only partially effective because the characters are flat and even the gifted cast doesn’t have the skills to bring them to life. Another reason is because we are all waiting for them to get their superpowers and figure out how to deal with them. The latter is the entire basis of the story, which may have been called overdone and unimaginative, but provides satisfaction when executed properly. The part about getting powers shouldn’t be crammed into an hour, but for some reason, this movie tries to do exactly that. The inevitable disastrous mission does take place eventually and the heroes and villain get their powers.

The movie then veers the characters into another direction, sort of making Fantastic Four, Part II, where the foursome is pitted against Doom in a number of battles that have been packed into fifteen minutes. Not only do these scenes fail to explore the abilities of the characters, but also feel, look and sound completely unoriginal. There are no emotional responses of the characters regarding their powers, which eliminates what could have been a compelling and powerful moment in the movie. Ben, particularly, has been ill-served.

There isn’t even a hint of the personality changes he goes through in the previous film versions and the comics. He is basically a nice and quiet guy, a stick figure if you will, even after his transformation. Once he is transformed, the movie doesn’t even spend a minute in asking what it feels like to be a giant, rock-encrusted monster suddenly who repulses others. In fact, Ben even overdoes the word easygoing because he acts as if he just got a bad haircut that will eventually grow out. It is ridiculous how accepting he is of his change.

It is a very tricky thing to assign blame for a disaster in the reviews. Critics usually cite other reported articles, unless they have intimate insight into what went behind the movie’s production. We know that Trank can be difficult and there were tensions on sets and a lot of other troubles. However, they don’t explain why the movie is so terrible. Lots of people spent time and money on the Fantastic Four and it just ends up being a long trailer for a movie that simply doesn’t happen. The actors are excellent, but their characters don’t have any depth or proper dialogues. The movie needed better scenes and better characters rather than length.

A sense of opportunism has pervaded the big-budget superhero genre so even the most earnest moviegoers have a cynical veneer. Movies like the Fantastic Four, which give no outward evidence of being made for anything other than making money, do not dispel this palpable feeling. The Marvel Factor does provide stamps out intellectual property widgets with great visual effects and movie stars and even their least ambitious ventures work. This one, however, is defective and a complete and utter disaster and it is impossible to tell what it was expected to be.

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