Review by Justin Waldman for Mr. Will Wong
In this third Fantastic Four release, Josh Trank (Chronicle) faces some monumental challenges as both Writer and Director. Fant4stic stretches itself too thin unfortunately, often plodding in backstory among the four-person Ensemble, and neglects their biggest fear almost entirely until too late. Fans of the Franchise have been waiting patiently for a Film Adaptation that does its legacy justice, but one cannot help but feel underwhelmed yet again still.
Fant4stic starts-off by giving us an introduction to the leader of the Fantastic Four, Reed Richards (Miles Teller/Owen Judge) as he is presenting to his class a concept he built in his garage that could teleport people. The idea is discounted by all except for Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell/Evan Hannemann), who after an encounter with Reed decides to help him see his vision through. Fast forward to modern day, where we see Reed and Ben at a science fair, demonstrating that their Transporter indeed works. However, the genius is misunderstood and denied acceptance until Dr. Franklin Strom (Reg. E Cathey) and his daughter Sue Strom (Kate Mara) offer Reed a scholarship at Baxter Institute to enlist his help in creating a bigger version of his creation.
To make this dream a reality, they still need an extra few hands – the extra brains Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) and the muscle Johnny Storm (Michael B Jordan). The Team has now been able to create a much larger version of the Transporter that is fully functional, and once NASA decides to take it away from them Victor, Johnny, Reed and Ben decide to be the first people to travel into another dimension and not be taken for granted. Upon their arrival, the planet starts to react and disintegrate as the four men try to escape; they are affected by the planet’s energy upon leaving and re-entering Earth. Moreover, upon their rough return, there is a source of energy that strikes Sue Storm giving her super powers despite not being on the initial journey.
The biggest problems plaguing Fant4stic are a result of pacing. The Film progresses quickly early, while much of the middle is non-eventful. The members of the Fantastic Four want their lives to go back to normal and not be cursed with their powers, and to do so have to work with the military as their weapons and lackeys for the potential of finding a cure. From a comic fan perspective, this isn’t true to whom Fantastic Four were, they were an unwatched group of heroes whom received grants to work and protect the city – and we’re certain fans of the Franchise would notice this also. Ignoring the fact that the essence of the group has changed, their missions with the military did not further develop any of the Characters or move the Plot forward, we don’t feel there was enough of a foundation nor development to take us to the Film’s Third Act. Lastly, Victor Von Doom, also known as Dr. Doom does not reappear in the Film until far too late, where the Fantastic Four are finally able to use their full potential.
Despite a talented Ensemble Cast, their talents are disappointingly underutilized. Kate Mara is relegated to the side despite being a crucial member of the Fantastic Four. Miles Teller is off-screen for a good duration of the Film, but when he is present his embodiment of Reed Richards is spot-on. Michael B. Jordan as well nails his portrayal of the arrogant, self-indulged Johnny Storm, while Jamie Bell’s The Thing is treated similarly to Sue Storm as he is sidelined and never truly developed in the screenwriting process. Toby Kebbell when present in the Movie, is incredible playing the hateful, spiteful Victor Von Doom which is the Adaptation fans have been wanting to see on the Big Screen.
Fant4stic despite being marginally more entertaining than previous Films in the Franchise, still manages to underwhelm, and if you are patient enough to make it to the Third Act, you will be rewarded.
20th Century Fox Canada releases Fant4stic in theatres Friday, August 7, 2015.