Review: FANTASTIC FOUR: Not That Bad! Not That Good!

Fantastic FourIf the entire running time of Fantastic Four was a mess and a slog, it would be much easier to write about. But because the film gets so much right in it’s first 45 minutes, talking about it becomes extremely frustrating. The film is a clear example of project that tragically derailed and no one knew how to get it back on track, so they just haphazardly pasted scenes here and there and hoped for the best. The end product mirrors the inter-dimensional planet the titular four travel to: visually interesting, but ultimately lifeless.

As I said, the first half has some wonderful sequences, beginning with a prologue involving childhood friends Reed Richards and Ben Grimm building a teleport machine in Reed’s garage, and even though I questioned the film’s depiction of adults as joyless beings who aren’t impressed by Reed in the least, I was still on board. All we need to understand is the bond the two boys have, and director Josh Tank communicates this splendidly, reminiscent of 80’s Amblin films.

Eventually, years later, the Reed and Ben unveil the machine at their High School Science Fair, where the judges and teachers are still inexplicably unimpressed. Thankfully, Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathy) is present to offer Reed a full scholarship. It seems like Dr. Storm was just tricking Reed, though, because there aren’t any actual classes; it appears to be just a lab, where Reed works on the teleportation machine with the Doctor’s children, Sue Storm (Kate Mara) and Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan). Also on hand: Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), a scientist who was kicked off the project because he’s a complete egomaniac who disrespects everyone around him. The film attempts to portray the financiers behind this project as nefarious, but when Dr. Allen (Tim Blake Nelson) tries to convince Dr. Storm that Doom is not a wise choice, we completely understand where he’s coming from. Especially when Doom begins rambling early on about how humans don’t deserve to live. Not exactly the guy you want next to you when traveling to another dimension.

Fantastic Four

Also ignored: Allen’s insistence that actual astronauts be the first to use the machine, because, you know, they’re professionals and not teenagers who would most likely do something stupid (which they do). Angered by this, Doom gives some speech about how the inventors are never remembered, just the astronauts, so they all sneak into the lab and travel. What the hell does that Dr. Allen know, anyway? Quite a bit, turns out. In fact, one might even call him the hero of the film. Every warning he states turns out to be true.

Up until they become altered, the five leads all have superb chemistry together. It’s believable that they would bond in such a small amount of time, even Doom proves to have some humor. Toby Kebbell doesn’t offer a one note character, we see there’s quite a bit going on with him. I would have liked a film where these guys just hang out for two hours. They’re a lively bunch and inject some of the only moments of comedy you’ll get from Fantastic Four.

Fantastic Four

There’s a jarring tonal switch once they return; it almost becomes a successful journey into bodily horror. There’s a moment where Ben, now the Thing, screams out in pain to Reed, and it’s effectively bone-chilling, perfectly uncomfortable.

Events are rushed until the inevitable third act showdown with Doom, which torpedoes into mediocrity. All the moments in the final thirty minutes are completely unearned, including one scene that SHOULD be the film’s emotional centerpiece yet falls flat. Only a sequence where Doom struts down the hallway blowing people’s heads up had my audience cheering. But then it’s over five seconds later. If you’re going to have your villain do something as beautiful as blow people’s heads up, you should milk that for all it’s worth. Simply put: I want three hours of people’s heads exploding all over lab walls.

Fantastic Four

For a film whose running time is mostly dedicated to build-up, it’s pathetic that there’s very little payoff. It seems to forget obvious character moments. In the beginning, when Reed eyes Sue in the library, they have a fun little flirtatious back-and-forth, and then never really speak again, expect when we witness them laughing from Doom’s point of view, who jealously glowers at them, yet this potential piece of character motivation is completely forgotten. Doom just reappears towards the end and immediately just kills people, then promotes himself to destroyer of our world for no good reason. Without even being aware of the behind the scenes drama, it’s apparent that the product was chopped to bits. You could play a drinking game where you watch all the trailers, and for every moment that isn’t in the theatrical cut, take a shot. Although, you might be dead before the trailers end.

It all feels like a 100 minute trailer for the real movie we were expecting to watch. But hey, it has exploding heads.


I never stand in front of the elevator doors when they open. All because of the movie The Departed.

3 Responses to “Review: FANTASTIC FOUR: Not That Bad! Not That Good!”

  1. Cash

    I loved the first half, maybe in 5 years we will get something closer to Tranks cut of the film like they did with Daredevil

  2. Jordan Grout

    I really want to see the original cut of this film and am crossing my fingers that Fox releases it. I’d gladly pay $20 for the blu-ray. There’s undoubtedly a FANTASTIC documentary about the making of this film, which hopefully will one day be produced.

  3. Brian White

    What I’m interested in knowing is did they really mess with Trank’s cut or is the script really that bad? Someone had to read the script right? I did not feel like I got a three part act. I felt like it was only two their first encounter with Doom according to the laws of good screenplay writing should of happened around the midpoint, and there should have been a whole other 1.5 act left. When they got into that machine and their lives changed that was transition from act one to two in my opinion. Where’s the full act 2 at nonetheless an act 3?