"Fantastic Four" Could (and Should) Be Better

From the time I saw the first “Fantastic Four” teaser, I was one of the few who rooted for and supported the reboot nobody seemed to want. I’ve never been emotionally attached to the comic book characters, so tweaking their origin story a bit and making the Human Torch an African-American didn’t bother me one bit. As a fan of “Chronicle,” I also felt Josh Trank could bring the vision of an unlikely group of regular folks dealing with gaining extraordinary (and frightening) gifts to the big-screen successfully.

Transported to an alternate universe, four young outsiders gain superhuman powers as they alter their physical form in shocking ways. Reed Richards (Miles Teller) becomes Mr. Fantastic, able to stretch and twist his body at will, while pal Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) gains immense strength as the Thing. Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) becomes the Human Torch, able to control and project fire, while his sister Sue (Kate Mara) becomes the Invisible Woman. Together, the Fantastic Four must harness their new abilities to battle a former friend (Toby Kebbell) who poses a threat to Earth.

“Fantastic Four” is the exact opposite of everything we saw in the 2005 and 2007 films directed by Tim Story. Where those were family-friendly and fun, Josh Trank’s version is dark, sinister, and violent. The introduction of each character after he gains his super powers is disturbing and will no doubt scare younger children.

I’ve heard rumbles from people who have seen “Fantastic Four” that they felt it was rooted more in realism. I couldn’t disagree more with that sentiment. The movie definitely has a foot solidly planted in the sci-fi genre. You can fully picture the super hero team living in the same universe as the X-Men. That being said, the dimension the group visits isn’t explored nearly as much as it should’ve been. It feels like the screenwriters were possibly saving that for a sequel which will never happen.

In all honesty, “Fantastic Four” feels like Josh Trank took his script for “Chronicle” and an unused treatment for a sequel and bunched them together. he then used established popular comic book characters to bring the movie to life. The whole thing just ends up feeling imbalanced.

The main cast of “Fantastic Four” really isn’t the problem with the movie. I feel they deliver in their roles and each one was established well enough to where we cared about what happened to them. In the right hands and with the right script, I believe they could flourish and be the new faces of the team. The character and look of Dr. Doom was very cool as well. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re ever going to get to see the actors expand on their characters after this bombs.

I really hope that Fox just accepts the failure of “Fantastic Four” and moves on with the actors for the “X-Men” crossover they plan on doing. If the movie performs as poorly as expected, there’s no way a proper sequel will ever be greenlit. I, for one, think it’s a darn shame since this feels like the first half of a great movie.

The film is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, and language. Dr. Doom has a rather graphic way of disposing of his targets that will remind some viewers of the movie “Scanners.” There are other intense and frightening scenes as well.

“Fantastic Four” isn’t a bad movie. It’s just not fantastic (I’m sure you’ve already read this pun somewhere else). Whether it was the studio messing with Josh Trank’s original vision or his own fault, it simply isn’t what it should or could have been. It’s an uneven attempt at making a dark and gritty superhero movie while still injecting comic book narrative into the equation at some points. The combination simply doesn't work here.