A couple of science whizz-kids build a portal to another dimension and try it out. They are attacked by green energy, giving them strange bodily malformations. Oh, it is also a superhero movie but that was added at the end.
Now that the whole planet has criticized Fantastic Four into the ground, I decided to watch it. And I tried to see it without preconceived ideas, as if no one had yet seen it and told me their opinions. Also, the back story of the Fantastic Four is unfamiliar to me, so I decided to be totally open to what the movie would bring in that regard.
The first 15 minutes are not that bad, really. We have a solid introduction of the main characters Reed and Ben as they grow up and are recruited into someone’s science company. Miles Teller is a natural actor, good enough for the part of Reed.
At around 20 minutes most of the characters are introduced and they are all very one-dimensional, but so are most character in the Marvel movies, to be honest. And there is the main plot, a science thing about saving our world with interdimensional travel but why that would be a good thing, something about resources, is rather vague. Knowing that this is a superhero movie, I’d expect them to go there soon.
30 minutes in. So far, I’m reminded of Hollow Man (2000) with the superficial science and characters and CGI monkey. Fantastic Four’s special effects aren’t better than those of 15 years ago. The portal starts up. You know, this movie could still be saved at this point in the story. There have been a lot of montages of doing science and characters getting to know each other, and it isn’t riveting, it’s a bit boring, but it isn’t a disaster as of yet. It is all act one so far and is just taking too long for anything to happen. The vague science plot and bland characters aren’t interesting enough to hold your attention further than this moment. The movie is approaching a breaking point.
45 Minutes. I’m getting the feeling that this is not a superhero movie. The pacing is that of a science drama, or science horror setup. Something like Europa Report (2013) but with bad effects and a dumb plot. The marvel comic material simply doesn’t lend itself for such a story, and it is not what movie-goers are looking for in a comic adaptation. If you expected a superhero story (which would be understandable) you’ll be very bored by now. If not, if you would regard it as a science drama horror, it is too dumb to take seriously.
60 minutes. Ok, now the feeling really sinks in that I am wasting my time. After the introduction of the characters, a movie should progress to interesting events, but it feels like the movie is still working on the introduction. Director Josh Trank seems to think that the human, normal versions of the characters are the focal point of the movie, and that the mutations are the drama and conflict of the story. The rest of the world however considers the mutants the focus, and their superhero activities the drama and conflict. It is a fundamental difference and Trank made a fatal flaw here.
The failure of Fantastic Four is the result of a critical misconception by the director that the mutations are the main drama, and not the start, of the story. Following this plot scheme of the director, the final act of the movie should be the characters returning to their normal lives and conquering the drama of the mutations. Even if that would have happened, the movie would still have been boring. Then he suddenly changed gears and turned the ending into a superhero movie.
Director Josh Trank doesn’t deserve all the hate that he received. I have some sympathy for a director who had a vision, even though it was the wrong vision. I can see his ideas between the lines, so to speak, but he simply decided to make the wrong kind of movie for the material.
This is a tragic mongrel movie of two genres, and both don’t work. That is the large perspective on the thing, but at the microscale too a thousand mistakes are made. Kate Mara plays the most boring character ever, special effects are mediocre, the villain sucks, and so on. The best thing I can say about it is that it tried. It did try. But I really can’t recommend it.