Fantastic Four (2015) by The Critical Movie Critics

Movie Review: Fantastic Four (2015)

With film franchises rebooting every few years, it’s surprising that this series took so long to take the plunge. The first version, “Fantastic Four,” was released by 20th Century Fox in the summer of 2005, when critics called it, “’Spider-Man’ times four,” although at the time, I described it as “Spider-Man” *divided* by four, since it takes that Marvel Comic and slices it up, dividing not only the drama, but the action and interest, as well. Rabid fans of the graphic novel may have loved it, but the casual movie fan watched, reacted on a very low level, left the theater and then thought about where to grab a bite to eat.

The movie (starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis as the famed superheroes) didn’t stick around very long. That’s not to say it was a bad film, it wasn’t. It just never held up. (The sequel, “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” was a bad film and even less well-received). Now, with Fantastic Four we get a whole new origin and a revamp of the series (directed by Josh Trank, “Chronicle”) which adds some amazing CGI and other effects, but leaves the viewer still wanting more from the script.

Recycled material can sometimes produce some wonderful products, but not so in Fantastic Four. Compared to recent successes such as “The Avengers,” “Iron Man,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and others, this fits somewhere between “Thor: The Dark World” and “Captain America: The First Avenger.” It’s not exactly the best place to be in the Marvel universe, friends.

Like most Marvel storylines, people conduct scientific experiments, experiment goes horribly wrong; people become infected with some kind of radioactivity; instead of dying of cancer, though, they gain super strength, speed or some other kind of amazing power. In this one, Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey, “St. Vincent”) recruits super-smart young people, such as Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell, “Wrath of the Titans”), Reed Richards (Miles Teller, “Whiplash”) and his adopted daughter, Sue (Kate Mara, “Transcendence”) to work on a teleportation project to allow inter-dimensional travel. Think of this organization as sort of a bulked-up X-Men, with the fatherly Franklin taking the Patrick Stewart role.

Later, Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell, “Filth”) and Franklin’s son, Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan, “That Awkward Moment”) are recruited to round out the cast.

The effort, which would take literally years to achieve is here completed in less than a few jump cuts and after a chimp is successfully sent and retrieved from the dark, primordial world, the group (sans Sue) decide they should get the glory by being the first humans to journey there (by the way, Reed will not go without Ben, who helped him with the original idea when they were kids).

Of course, as in all films of this ilk, things go horribly wrong as the energy in the strange world erupts violently, causing Von Doom to fall into a crevasse and the rest to barely escape with their lives. They now have amazing powers: Richards becomes as flexible as a rubberband; Susan (who was not on the trip, but affected nevertheless when the shuttle craft returned) has the power to become invisible and create a force field of some kind, while her adopted brother becomes a human flying torch; and Grimm turns into a rock-like thing graced with incredible power.

Kept in a secret government facility (like Area 51, only different), three of the four are angry at Richards for supposedly abandoning them in the hour of need. When he is captured, though, he maintains he was only trying to find a cure. Meanwhile, the evil Dr. Harvey Allen (Tim Blake Nelson, “The Homesman”) plans to use the group as indestructible weapons for the military, but Von Doom’s return (as Dr. Doom now) puts the kibosh on that particular arrangement.

To save his new world, Doom decides to extract the power form Earth and divert it to the alien dimension (why this is necessary isn’t exactly explained, but it does bring about the final conflict between former friends and colleagues). The four have to travel to the villain’s lair and join forces to try and defeat him (as Richards says, “Doom is stronger than each of them, but not stronger than ALL of them.”) That being understood, they use their combined powers and wrap up the concluding fight in almost record time, leaving most viewers wondering what just happened and why did it happen so quickly.

And while the FX are seamless and wonderful, like most Marvel/Disney efforts, the characters are mostly under-developed and the backstory (before they became super heroes) is really the most interesting part. In fact, the only character that brings about any empathy whatsoever is Ben/The Thing who has the most difficult job acclimating to his rock-like personae. Another in a long line of mid-level features designed to kill time between the next and bigger Marvel release. And, as if to label this a mere throwaway, Fantastic Four did not even bother to feature a Stan Lee cameo or even a tease after the ending credits. Talk about a dead giveaway.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
2 Star Rating: Bad


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Movie Review: The Gift (2015)

The Critical Movie Critics

I have been a movie fan for most of my life and a film critic since 1986 (my first published review was for "Platoon"). Since that time I have written for several news and entertainment publications in California, Utah and Idaho. Big fan of the Academy Awards - but wish it would go back to the five-minute dinner it was in May, 1929. A former member of the San Diego Film Critics Society and current co-host of "The Movie Guys," each Sunday afternoon on KOGO AM 600 in San Diego with Kevin Finnerty.

'Movie Review: Fantastic Four (2015)' have 15 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 8, 2015 @ 5:28 pm qualified_sassypants

    2015 the year Catwoman became the second worst big budget comic adaption.

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 9, 2015 @ 5:16 pm treyhealey

    Can we lay this to bed already? The Fantastic Four suck. Doesn’t matter who makes the movie, doesn’t matter who stars in it. The Fantastic Four is superhero herpes.

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 9, 2015 @ 5:58 pm Devon Peterson Jr.


  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 9, 2015 @ 6:25 pm Cortana

    Strange movie almost like parts of different movies were edited together and none of it was very good. Back story stuff, science-engineering stuff, speedy super power discovery stuff, tacked on fight.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      August 9, 2015 @ 8:58 pm strategy 3030

      The result of those pesky studio heads meddling where they don’t belong […]

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 9, 2015 @ 6:33 pm PacificRimJob

    Doctor Doom is one of the best villains created and he was reduced to a freaky aside. Total fail. Inexcusable oversight by the writers. I have so much hate for this movie I can’t properly put it into words. Fuck you for ruining him.

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 9, 2015 @ 6:55 pm omniphone

    Josh Trank said this was not his vision and I believe him.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      August 9, 2015 @ 11:13 pm Papa O'Neal

      I don’t. There were reports he came to the set drunk, isolated himself from cast and crew, micromanaged, etc. The studio isn’t without fault but Trank was over his head from the beginning.

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 9, 2015 @ 8:10 pm Maplelynch

    Everyone involved in the film should be caged and transported to Doom’s horribly constructed barren wasteland of a dimension and left to think about what they’ve done for eternity…

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 9, 2015 @ 8:21 pm HighGradeLeprechaun

    Watch ‘The Incredibles’ to see a Fantastic Four film developed correctly.

  9. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 9, 2015 @ 9:40 pm Sanibell

    I can’t believe I’m saying I prefer the Jessica Alba version more. This started out promising but quickly falls apart into a hodgepodge of half-baked ideas and nonsense.

  10. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 10, 2015 @ 6:57 am Romanik

    3 strikes and your out. Give it back to Marvel now.

  11. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 12, 2015 @ 12:19 am Mark

    This was not ‘marvel/disney’ as you say. This movie was Fox and Fox alone. They only have the rights from Marvel.

  12. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 12, 2015 @ 3:39 pm Billy Kryptonight

    I liked it despite it taking forever for anything to actually happen. The darker tone fit the story and everyone did a good job with their respective roles. With the origin story out of the way I’d watch a sequel…

  13. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 13, 2015 @ 1:48 pm Irus

    Ironic to me that a movie so reliant on science can be so stupid.

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