Had it not rushed to the finish line and spoken almost entirely in exposition, Fantastic Four could have really been fantastic. Sadly, its talented cast is wasted in a big lead-up to a whole bunch of nothing. When things aren't blowing up, it's really something special. But it devolves into a done-to-death, end-of-the-world scenario that doesn't have anything new to offer.
Its first half is actually an enjoyable origin story, focusing on the science in the science fiction. Reed Richards (Miles Teller) is a talented student hand-picked to work at the Baxter Institute, which provides the funds for him to realize his dream of teleportation. A good chunk of the film finds him, Sue Storm (Kate Mara), Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) and Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) tinkering well into the night.
At times it feels like The Right Stuff or Primer for the Instagram generation. That's the stuff that works. But after the team's trip to an alternate dimension goes awry, the film all but falls apart, shifting gears into a standard action movie with all its distinguishing features removed.
What's so disappointing is that its second half has promise, too. The U.S. government forces our heroes to work as military contractors, exploiting their powers for international dominance. There's plenty to explore there, but the movie doesn't spend any time fleshing it out. Barely any time passes before its anticlimactic ending.
None of the motivation of any of the characters makes a lick of sense, least of all Doom. His nihilism and feelings of betrayal aren't well-developed. Neither is Johnny's rebellious streak nor Ben's depression. And who even knows what they were trying to do with Sue, who's literally and metaphorically invisible.
This is now Hollywood's third attempt at the Fantastic Four. If this is the best they have to offer, maybe it's time to close this comic book for good.