I have always thought that the Fantastic Four comic would be the worst comic to adapt into a live action movie. The whole set up was hokey even in the 1960’s: A brilliant scientist, his best friend, the scientist’s love interest and her younger brother launch in to space to observe a rare cosmic phenomena only to be bombarded with cosmic rays and gain unique super powers. They would then form a team (because why not?) to defend the Earth from threats terrestrial, sub-terrestrial, extra-dimensional and from out of this world. And their names ranged from classic (The Human Torch was based on a older character) to simple (Invisible Girl/Woman and Thing are pretty spot on) to downright arrogant (Who calls themselves Mr. Fantastic? He must be a monster between the sheets or Sue would’ve took him down a peg.) Despite this, they are an important part of Marvel’s history so naturally they would try to make a movie . They have done so: One was never released and only exists in bootleg copies and another had faults, but did well enough to spawn a sequel, which did its best considering the main threat was a purple-helmeted planet eating giant, at least in the comics but a Galactus-shaped cloud in the movie. But, in order to withhold the movie right from Marvel’s parent company, Disney, 20th Century Fox release a new Fantastic Four, directed by Josh Trank. Would this finally get this storied comic book franchise right.
Short answer, no. Long answer, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
The movie follows Reed Richards and Ben Grim in, what I guess, was their senior year in high school (while the actors look way past their teens) So, the set up is similar to the Ultimate Universe version (if you don’t know what that is, don’t worry. Marvel crapped that away years ago.) Reed’s science project, a interdimensional gate (how is he still in a public school if he is building interdimensional rifts?) gets the notice of Dr Franklin Storm, a scientist who runs an organization that is trying to build a similar device. Reed meets Dr. Storm’s son, Johnny, his adopted daughter Susan and a certain Victor Von Doom, who was working on the institute’s version of the portal. . When the government threaten to take over the project, Reed calls Ben and, along with Victor and Johnny, travel to the place they call Planet Zero. While there, the planet erupts violently, seemingly killing Doom and bombing the other s with radiation. Susan, is in the control room when they teleport back, getting caught in the explosion that follows and getting doused in the same “cosmic rays.” Of course they each develop powers, Reed can stretch, Johnny can emit flames and fly, Sue can turn invisible and has telekinesis and Ben is a super strong rock guy with no genitals. Some are thrilled, some are not (you’d be too if you were rendered a eunuch) and the government wants to you them to rebuild the portal and go back. But someone is waiting for them.
I had a hard time watching this movie. The acting is bad. Not horrible, but you never start to like any of them.. Kate Mara is the worse, with her dead-eye performance making me yearn for Jessica Alba in the role ( and Jessica had more charisma). The rest, well I didn’t feel it. The making them teens make sense, not casting actors in their thirties to plan them was not. Well, most were late twenties but they did not look the part. And, what they did to poor Ben! Was giving him CGI shorts too much for their budget? Or go the Watchman route and have Ben hang out in all his rocky glory? With a name like the Thing, there has always been jokes and speculation about the Thing’s…thing, but to castrate him like this is horrible.
My biggest gripe, however is that they failed to get Doctor Doom right. No movie so far has given us an authentic Doom (Rise of the Silver Surfer came closest, but still fell short.) A little Fantastic Four 101: Doom was not around for the space mission that gave the team their powers. He had no power, save those for his technology (he a bit of a mad scientist) and magic (he’s a double threat!). He was as smart as Reed, but his ego usually gets the better of them (and this against a guy who calls himself “Mister Fantastic!”) His connection to the team was that he knew reed in College and he blames him for an accident that gave him a scar! Surely with that origin, some screen writer could give us a Doom that is a plausible threat, one that would rival Darth Vader in sheer bad assness (and the scene in Empire Strikes Back, where the heroes meet Darth in a banquet hall? Doctor Doom did it first.)
This movie fails as a super hero movie., It fails as a science fiction movie about four friends mutated by cosmic forces. I would not be surprised if Fox shoveled out this movie just to keep the rights to the franchise While they’ve been doing good with the X-Men franchise as of late, this new version of the FF does not work. They are still threatening a part 2, though fans are hoping they will reach a agreement with Marvel/Disney similar to the one reached with Sony over Spider-Man. They won’t. Fox can be dicks sometimes. Look how long it took the ’60s Batman TV series to be released on DVD. With Marvel disbanding the Fantastic Four in the comics and the movie director disowning the film, 2015 has been a lousy year foe Marvel’s oldest superhero team. If you want to see the Fantastic Four done right, watch the Incredibles. Or if you have to have Johhny, Ben, Sue and Reed, watch some of the cartoons, preferably the “90 version, not the one with H.E.R.B.I.E (Not the Love Bug, though they are now owned by the same company…) Even the movies with Chris Evens and Jessica Alba are better (they do have a charm to them,). Don’t watch this one, you will just be sad.