With a new cast and a new director, Fox looks to breathe some life into the franchise they quite haven’t been able to crack.
For the most part, Fox has had a pretty successful run of films dating back to the first X-Men film. Yet with all the success of the X-Men franchise, Fox has had a lot of trouble really cracking the formula to a successful Fantastic Four film. 10 years ago, Fox took their first crack at it and the film wasn’t exactly a critical success but it made money at the box office. It wasn’t the best superhero film but it was a fun time for film audiences. With their next attempt with Rise of the Silver Surfer, it received more mixed reviews and still made a good amount of money but it still wasn’t anything groundbreaking. Now, in 2015, Fox has decided to give it another go with Josh Trank helming the project. Instead of going the more comedic and fun route, Trank took the franchise and tried to ground it, make it a bit darker. Unfortunately for him…it may lead to one of the biggest disasters in the comic book genre.
Opening up with Reed Richards and Ben Grimm as children, we see how the two begin to form a friendship that’ll stick together for the rest of their lives. Taking place in 2007, Reed Richards and Ben Grimm form a childhood friendship and the two work together to build a prototype teleporter. Seven years later, the Reed (Miles Teller) and Ben (Jamie Bell) reveal the prototype at their high school science fair. While the project gets them disqualified, it does attract the attention of Professor Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey), who is the director of the Baxter Foundation, and scientist Sue Storm (Kate Mara). Reed is given a full on scholarship to the Baxter Foundation where he is brought in to help complete the “Quantum Gate,” allowing for interdimensional travel.
Professor Storm brings in his protege, Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), and his son Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) to help with the creation of the “Quantum Gate.” The goal of the “Quantum Gate” is to teleport to what has been described as “Planet Zero.” When the creation of the “Quantum Gate” is complete, the group runs a test with huge success. When the facility supervisor Dr. Allen (Tim Blake Nelson) tells the group that he’ll be going to NASA, this doesn’t exactly go well. So Reed, Johnny, and Victor get a bit drunk and decide they’re going to be the first people to take steps on “Planet Zero.” Reed calls Ben to come with them on the trip and the four go on the trip to “Planet Zero.” Once there…things go terribly wrong and the group will never be the same again.
There’s not a whole lot that Trank gets right with his adaptation of the Fantastic Four. Looking at, what may be, the one actual bright spot of the film: the special effects are amazing and “Planet Zero” is gorgeous. Aside from that, everything else just feels like a stretch. Trank somehow found a way to assemble a talented cast yet waste ALL of their talent. Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell do stand out in comparison to the rest of the cast but it just doesn’t say much.
What also feels out of place is how Teller, Bell, Jordan, and Mara are supposed to play recent high school graduates/college students. Obviously, this isn’t the first time something like this has been done in a film. Andrew Garfield was 29 when he was cast as Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man and Tobey MaGuire was 27 when cast in Spider-Man. The difference is the both of them felt like they fit their roles and their scripts were written well enough so that they at least were able to pull them off. The four cast members of Fantastic Four are written so poorly and at this stage in their lives truly don’t look like high schoolers anymore. Miles Teller is a charming actor, but not even he has the charm to pull of a genius high schooler.
And then there’s Doom. Doctor Doom is one of the most iconic villains in the Marvel Universe and he’s truly a force to be reckoned with. When looking at the Doom created by Josh Trank, the first thing you notice is just how poorly designed he is. While the Fantastic Four films from 10 years ago weren’t perfect, at least Doctor Doom didn’t look like a scrapped design of a Dyson vacuum cleaner. And now he’s been given the power of what appears to be a scanner, having the ability to blow the heads up of his enemies.
When it all comes down to it, someone dropped the ball here…it’s safe to assume that it was Josh Trank. There were a lot of rumors leading up to the release of the film about how Trank’s work on Fantastic Four cost him a shot at directing a Star Wars film and it’s evident now as to why. What’s sad is that Trank’s version of the Fantastic Four does have some fascinating ideas but they never go deep enough to explore anything that Trank talks about. The sad, sad truth? If you really want to watch a Fantastic Four movie, go on and watch the 2005 and 2007 films and just wait until Fox hands the Fantastic Four property back to Marvel, begging them to make money on it.
Fantastic Four is directed by Josh Trank, written by Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater, and Trank, and stars Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, and Tim Blake Nelson. Fantastic Four will be in theaters August 7, 2015.