Starring: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell
Directed by: Joshua Trask
Fantastic Four, only (sadly) is isn’t the iconic fantastic quartet of heroes that we met in 1961 as created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, nor is it the characters we saw in any of the various TV cartoons we’ve seen over the year, nor the live-action characters who appeared in the first two Fox films. Oh, Hell, these aren’t even the folks who appeared in the “lost” Roger Corman film that was made in 1994. No, these are the cinematic versions of the “Modernized re-imagining” of Marvel's long-running Fantastic Four comic book franchise that were created by Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Millar, and Adam Kubert which debuted in print early 2004, and were a part of the company’s Ultimate Universe imprint.
The story (such that it is) revolves around four youngsters who teleport themselves to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in “shocking” ways, granting them powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men, irrevocably altering their lives. Then the four (including Victor Von Doom, who is no longer the ruler of a European nation, but just a (slightly) older scientist on the team must now come together as a team (save for Doom), learn to harness their new abilities, and then work together to save Earth from well, Doom, who has now become their sworn enemy.
Sorry kids our problem with this incarnation is well, it simply isn’t the FF. further, the film takes itself so seriously that everything is done ponderously slow, and with great weight, so as to show you how serious the film takes itself. Gone is the human, family element of connectivity that we saw in the comicbooks, animated cartoons, and on-screen for the past 54 years, The feet-of-clay every-man-turned-hero that imbued the various series featuring these characters, gone is the playful frenemy bi-play between Johnny (The Human Torch) Storm and Ben (The Thing) Grimm. All of it tossed aside to rush yet a new reboot of these characters to the screen.
Hey, Hollywoodland, I have a if you are going to pay a boat-load of money to adapt something that has not only been around for over half a century, but has been pretty successful during that run, perhaps you should stop screwing with the core formula and simply give us what already works. Better yet, just throw in the towel, and give the rights to make Marvel films back to Marvel, because they know how to make good superhero films. So, having said all of that, go see the film if you must (better yet, save the 10 bucks, wait until it hits cable, and then watch it for free, don’t even bother to rent it from Redbox, because it isn’t even worth that rental fee. To be sure, we are huge fans of Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan and while they did well, they were far more talented than the script, or the film itself. Mores the pity.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing comicbooks for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web.