Superhero movies...superhero movies everywhere. Is it then any wonder that 20th Century Fox dusts off its movie rights to the Fantastic Four and gives them another shot? Not really.
With Fantastic Four directed by Josh Trank, 20th Century Fox reboots the franchise of the four elemental Marvel heroes and gives them a more mature look and modern style. Cast with much younger actors and boasting a more grounded and realistic tone, Fantastic Four seems to come off very much like an imitator of trends set by The Dark Knight and further motivated by the successes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But is Fantastic Four capable enough of finding its own identity and not coming off as a movie simply there for Fox to maintain their rights to the characters?...
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.
After numerous trailers that intially spawned quite some concern for fans of superhero movies and especially Fantastic Four fans, it is now sadly safe to say that Fox's latest Fantastic Four reboot is actually even worse than just the problems the trailers hinted at.
Instead of just a forgettable and uninspired superhero movie, it shockingly turns out that Fantastic Four is actually one of the most incapable superhero movies in recent memory (if not ever). In an age where it seems like superhero movies are always at least solid entertainment (at least when made by Marvel Studios), Fantastic Four is a prime example of a studio having no clear vision what to make of its license to these characters with the only goal being to create a similar cinematic universe just like Marvel did. It quickly becomes painstakingly obvious that Fantastic Four is not a movie that wants to entertain you but to set you up for more sequels - and nothing else. With that said, this is one of those rare movies that cannot be spoiled, since there absolutely doesn't happen anything that you don't already know from the trailers.
|"What have you done to my career, Fox!?"|
Fantastic Four is a movie that is absolutely nothing but a giant big exposition. With that said, most of the movie focusses on how the protagonist team consisting of Reed Richards, Johnny Storm, Susan Storm and Ben Grimm actually get to their powers instead of actually showing what they do with them. So don't be surprised if you notice that about 65 minutes of this 90 minute movie are entirely spent on introducing the characters in the movie and the teleporting device they use to get to another alien dimension, and absolutely nothing else. There are no real sub-plots and nothing else going on. Though it might sound like exaggeration, it is absolutely not.
It all leads to a movie that is overall more of a bland sci-fi flick than an actual superhero movie, clearly underlining the huge identity crisis this movie is going through. Though it clearly aims at a far darker and serious tone, which remains to be respected, it still comes over as very forced and simply unfitting for the Fantastic Four. Even considering that the previous two Fantastic Four movies starring Chris Evans were overdoing their lighthearted and goofy style, this was still somewhat way more fitting to the colorful feel of the original Fantastic Four comics.
|The movie mainly only has three colors: dark blue, orange and grey...a lot of it.|
Instead, this year's Fantastic Four reboot comes off as an overly dark attempt to make these heroes more appealing for mature audiences, which incredibly backfires. There's a large difference between making a movie serious and making a movie unnecessarily depressing and downbeat. Unfortunately the latter is what is the case for this newest Fantastic Four movie. The addition of more realism to the Fantastic Four formula is in itself actually quite welcome if done right: the military of course wanting to get a hold on the FF's new found powers, the drastic change or transformation of the protagonists' bodies being far not as "cool" and "amazing" at first but actually quite scary (sort of like in body horror movies). The realistic tone and directions the origins and story of the Fantastic Four movie takes are not really the problem, but rather that the movie makes aboslutely no real attempt of entertaining you with joyful moments that balance the overwhelmingly depressing and downbeat feel of the movie. Neither the minor comedic attempts in the movie work nor do the only two small and laughably lame action scenes in the movie convince or entertain anybody. It is literally one of the most uneventful and boring superhero movies out there, making the previous Fantastic Four movies feel like huge accomplishments in comparison.
|The Dark Knight Effect - every superhero has to be dark and brooding now.|
Aside from nothing of true substance actually happening in the entire movie, there is another huge problem - the characters.
Nothing about these newly introduced and far younger members of the Fantastic Four makes them in any way charismatic or relatable to the audience. Instead of a team with members that occasionally mock each other but still work together greatly as a team, here it feels like the actual Fantastic Four team doesn't even exist or come to life until the last few minutes after the movie's showdown.
Once again bringing up the fact that this movie is only there to set up more sequels, it always feels like these Fantastic Four are just random teens with powers who just so happen to fight the same enemy towards the end with nothing else truely in common. Only occasionally the main outlines of the relations are set but never followed upon on a deeper level. Susan is the adoptive sister of Johnny Storm, Victor Van Doom supposedly had a love relationship with Susan, and Reed and Ben are childhood friends...that's it. What usually is only the basic framework of a movie's character relationships to build upon is the absolute maximum of character insight or development you will get in Fantastic Four.
Making matters worse are some truely ridiculous and illogical plot points uttered by characters in the most serious ways possible to overshadow how little sense they make (for example: Johnny Storm's scientist father is very mad with him constantly taking part in dangerous illegal street races, yet is totally okay and encouraging towards sending his son and daughter into another dimension via a teleporter....?!).
Summed up, you will care about absolutely none of the characters there. And no matter if Johnny Storm is now a black guy or whether the entire team is much younger than usual, the movie does absolutely nothing effective to actually make you like or want to see these characters ever again in another movie.
|The posters are the best joke here, since they absolutely never fight in any city.|
And then there is Dr. Doom. Well, even considering how much hate Dr. Doom's look already received when the first trailers hit, his new look is well...you have to get used to it. Yet in the light of a more realistic depicition of Dr. Doom's transformation and how he got his metal mask, Fantastic Four actually shows a pretty clever way of how Victor Van Doom came to his infamous look.
As already said, his look, despite being somewhat more grounded, indeed strays away from the original comic book origins of Dr. Doom quite a bit, much like the overall origin of the Fantastic Four's powers (not gained through a space travel but dimensional teleportation travel) and resultingly is guaranteed to become extremely polarizing to say the least.
Yet once again, much like the rest of the characters in the movie, the true personality and motivations of Victor Van Doom only get scratched on at the surface. Though it's occasionally shortly hinted at a supposed past love relationship between him and Susan Storm, we never get a clear look at what's behind it all. Furthermore, the reveal of the actual Dr. Doom feels incredibly shoehorned into the last 20 minutes of the movie. Resultingly, Doom's motivation for wanting to destroy Earth comes off as extremely sudden, rushed and somewhat clicheed.
|Dr. Doom's look is definitely polarizing but not entirely bad...with his cloak on.|
Aside from comic book- or Fantastic Four fans, especially the grand majority of viewers who simply want to see some good ole' superhero action will be left completely disappointed by Fantastic Four.
As already said, "there basically is nothing happening in this movie" - and this isn't an overexaggeration. This means that also no real action scenes are happening in the movie except for a very short fight scene between Reeds and some soldiers and the anti-climactic final showdown with Dr. Doom.
For a movie whose TV-spots praise themselves by showing lots of cool effect shots, this is truely a shamefully misguiding advertising move to lure uninformed movie goers into your pretty much action-less and boring drag of a movie. Once again, it should be kept in mind that Fantastic Four is seriously just one big exposition for a superhero movie that just never happens. So, it's no wonder that the final showdown with Dr. Doom suddenly starts 5 minutes right after he shows up for the first time and also lasts only about 5 minutes.
It's somewhat laughable in a way when seeing that Ant-Man, a movie about a guy who can shrink in size, has loads more action and overall entertainment, than a movie with FOUR superheroes with elemental powers.
Putting the final nail in the coffin is the movie's surprisingly low quality of its visual effects. Much like the entire movie itself, most of the visual effects clearly come off as very rushed, unfinished and artificial looking. Effects like The Thing in general and especially the sequence in which Reed transforms his face into another one are definitely below today's Hollywood effects standards and feel like something out of a mid 90s movie.
|It's a 120 Mio.$ superhero movie that can't even get its effects right.|
With Fox's latest reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise one definitely has to wonder whether there even is a promising cinematic future for this superhero team at all.
This year's Fantastic Four reboot is a shocking trainwreck of a superhero movie. While there surely have already been other bad superhero movies in previous years, it's baffling how 20th Century Fox, who did a great job establishing their X-Men franchise, completely botched this attempt at another superhero franchise - and exactly this is the main problem of the movie:
Fantastic Four has clearly not been made to be a fulfilling and entertaining movie completely in and on its own, but rather a movie that's simply there to set up more sequels and a money making universe like Marvel Studios' (Fox even already announced a release date for a sequel ahead of the reboot's release). Resultingly, the entire movie is nothing but one giant exposition of how the four heroes get to their powers and not about what they actually do with them. It's a movie with as good as zero action or anything remotely interesting happening, while the tiny bits of effects and action that are present are ridiculously underdeveloped and feel shamefully slapped together.
The big true negative miracle here is that even in this movie that spends most of its runtime on developing its characters (a 90 minute movie and they get their powers at about 70 min into it), the movie somehow still manages to make them some of the most boring, dull and uninteresting bunch of "superheroes" in recent memory.
All in all, despite the fact that we are currently living in what can be called the "Golden Age of Superhero Movies" that doesn't mean that every superhero movie getting released is automatically good. Case in point: Fantastic Four.
Absolutely don't go and watch this movie. You will otherwise most likely hate yourself afterwards for wasting your money on something this lazy, unfinished and joyless.
Fantastic Four is not only a bad superhero movie but a bad movie in general, that makes Batman & Robin or Green Lantern seem leagues more entertaining. Avoid it at all costs.
Final Verdict: 1 out of 10