Review: Nothing remotely fantastic about this 'Four'
Directed by Josh Trank, “Fantastic Four,” the inexplicably plodding and dreary new attempt to adapt the beloved Marvel story, is not wholesale terrible — just depressingly mediocre, and at a certain point you sort of start wishing it were definitively terrible, because that would at least make it more entertaining.
It's not that the raw materials aren't there. Aside from the known story — science-loving humans experience a cosmic accident while exploring inter-dimensional travel and emerge with formidable superpowers — we have some talented actors on-hand. They include the usually compelling Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan, along with Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Reg E. Cathey (“The Wire”) and an expertly creepy Tim Blake Nelson.
It all begins promisingly, with a setup that introduces Reed Richards and Ben Grimm as fifth-graders on Long Island. Reed is a science nerd who tells his class his life goal is “to be the first person in human history to teleport myself.” The teacher directs Reed to come back with a more realistic goal.
But the precocious lad has already developed a mini-version of said teleporter. Years later, Reed (now Teller) is back with his invention at the high-school science fair. Here, he and Ben meet Dr. Franklin Storm (Cathey) and daughter Sue (Mara), who realize what Reed has — a better teleporter than their own. Storm gives Reed a scholarship at his science institute to pursue his dream.
There, Reed meets Storm's son Johnny (Jordan), a reluctant scientist but expert builder, and the disaffected but talented young scientist Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell). Soon, they're a team. Eventually, the full-blown teleporter is ready. One night, they all get tipsy and decide to take a test spin.
Oops! They end up on Planet Zero, aka the other dimension, but we'll just call it Planet-Very-Bad-CGI. Reed's curiosity leads him close to a mysterious energy force, and havoc ensues. When the group returns, they're forever changed.
The best scene is where everyone discovers their new forms. Reed (Mister Fantastic) has limbs that stretch indefinitely. Johnny (Human Torch) is a blaze of flames. Sue (Invisible Woman) can disappear. Poor Ben (The Thing), is unrecognizable, a powerful mass of rocks.
The movie's final scene has the team standing together, speaking dialogue that becomes so silly, people erupted in laughter at my screening.
The end result? Something much less than fantastic.
Jocelyn Noveck is a film critic for the Associated Press.