Review: Fantastic Four (2015)


Director:Josh Trank

Cast:Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell

Running Time:100 Minutes


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.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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