Starring: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson, Owen Judge, Evan Hannemann, Dan Castellaneta, and more.
Directed by: Josh Trank Screenplay by: Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater, and Josh Trank Based on Characters Created by: Jack Kirby and Stan Lee Cinematography by: Matthew Jensen Music by: Marco Beltrami and Philip Glass
Premise: Despite the opinions of his teacher and his peers, Reed Richards continues to work at making his dream of inventing a form of teleporation a reality. With Ben Grimm at his side, he makes enough headway to get himself noticed by an unexpected source. Dr. Franklin Storm believes Reed has stumbled upon the answer which has been holding back his own dimensional travel program. He gives Reed a full scholarship to come learn and work at the Baxter building. Bringing back a disgruntled Victor Von Doom, and his own authority bucking son, Johnny, into the mix, he uses his adopted daughter, Sue, to hold them together long enough to create wonders. But when the opportunity to be the first people to go to the other world is suddenly denied them, the young scientists decide to go for a ride despite them. And things go wrong. (Rated PG-13)
1) Acting – Thumbs Up: The young actors Owen Judge and Evan Hannemann did a fantastic job setting up the audience and getting us to connect with Reed Richards and Ben Grimm. Miles Teller and Jamie Bell pick up from there as the story rolls forward seven years. Kate Mara does a different take on Sue Storm, making her more of a loner than previous incarnations. It was great fun watching Reed trying to connect with her despite her own reservations. Michael B. Jordan also did very well as the authority clashing Johnny Storm. Toby Kebbell was grim and distrustful as Victor, but he too could be surprised.
2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: There were a lot of cool CGI effects in the film. The dimensional globe was quite impressive, especially when we see the first version of it in Reed’s garage. The setup of his science project version made it look very impressive, even if his teacher didn’t think so.
Johnny’s flame and Ben’s rock skin looked great. And they did a fabulous job of actually letting Mr. Fantastic use his stretch skills effectively. Sue’s fields and bubbles also got a spiffy look.
The green goo on planet Zero was super cool. Loved the cracks. The swirling gas and bioelectric micro-lightning looked great. And what happens after that? Very nice.
The planet, however, was not cool. If I see one more alien planet with 45 degree angled rocks jutting from the ground everywhere, I’m going to SCREAM! It’s an alien planet, for pete’s sake, use your imagination! With CGI you can make the planet look like anything! So why is it that everyone is using the same setup? 45 degree angled rocks are becoming a visual cliche in science fiction movies. I don’t understand why they’re overusing them like this? Why? (As I saw it for the first time through the camera screen, I kept expecting Riddick to step out from behind one of the angled rocks and take a pot shot at them…:P)
3) Plot/Story – Neutral: I knew from the commercials the film was not going to be cannon. Dimensional travel instead of space travel, super young people instead of late twenties to mid thirties, got it. I went to see it totally prepared for all that and more. And to give them credit, the first half was fabulous! Totally loved how they started the story and swept us up in the tale. Which made the second half, once things actually go bad plotwise, a complete and total copout! *cry*
Sue keeps the guys focused, Sue makes the suits to keep everyone safe, Sue gets promised, like the rest, that she will get to go on the first voyage…And she’s bummed like the rest when they take the opportunity away…But the guys go off to get drunk, decide they’re going anyway, and NEVER called her! They bring in Ben (who I did think should go) but left her out! They never even thought of her. If I was her, I would have been FURIOUS! Horrible turnout be dammed. Heck, she might have kept them all safe! Yet she spent all this time all this work and they forget her? Then, since she gets her powers as part of an energy discharge when the group comes back, they’re just actually subliminally implying she won’t be as powerful as the rest. Well Grrrrrr. (Though at least she did get pattern recognition and intelligence, so it could have been worse…) (And really, it was a cheap plot shot to just make four travel canisters instead of five.)
Victor…you are a genius. yet you stupidly put you hand into reactive energy on an alien planet without taking scans, precautions, or anything else. Really? Worse, you decide to suck the Earth into a blackhole for no real good reason. Worse, if you can make a syphoning interdimensional conduit from pure power and rocks, why didn’t you use that to open a portal to come back yourself? The character of Dr. Doom in the comics is scary because he defeats people with who have superhuman powers with his intelligence! But no, let’s just make him smart but then give him a ton of super natural power which he will waste stupidly blowing people’s heads off for no real reason. UGH!
Reed…You ran away. At first I thought, good, so you can collect your thoughts, make a plan, and come back to save the others. But no. For a full year, you just run around. You’ve controlled your power, you can make yourself look like anyone. You know Sue looks for patterns, yet you never tried to contact your friends EVER! You only end up talking to them again because you got captured (great fight!), really, Reed? Really? You can create a dimensional rift with speakers and wire but not figure out a way to help the people you feel GUILTY about messing up? REALLY?
And talk about skipping reality fallout. An entire secret base is a giant hole in the ground with only four survivors – four survivors who are super powered. Yet they’re instantly embraced as heroes rather than scapegoats for the loss of life and millions of dollars? Not like there was anyone there to back up their story. But our government just took them at their word? Let them quit and gave them everything they ever wanted? Yeah, right…
And finally, they get all sorts of goodies they ask for, but they don’t end up owning the Baxter building and no 4 with a circle for the helicopter pad. Boo!
Ben Grimm keeping track of kills in the field? Double Boo! And not a single one of them moved to save a single human at the base or on the other dimension. They only cared about Franklin and didn’t really even try to save him with an invisible shield or elastic push. Argh!
And last, but not least, what about the fact that though “being turned back to normal” is the giant motivation placard for which Ben is out there killing people, but by the end, it’s not even a consideration anymore. Yet nothing had really changed to make him not want to go back. Come on!
4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: Nice work for the stunt people and interlaced CGI. Watching Ben Grimm (The Thing) kick some booty with bad guy military peeps? Awesome! (Killing count – not so awesome.) The facility personnel and their bad travails toward the end were nicely done.
Conclusion: Fantastic 4 had a great first half, then threw all that work away by shoving in an unimaginative and not well thought out problem, assuming audiences would be satisfied with just bright lights and action. So they threw the whole thing away. Boo!
Rating: 3 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)