I wasted over an hour and half of my life. How did I do it? Sadly, I did it watching an attempt to bring one of my favorite comic book series to life on the movie screen.
Fantastic Four is the third attempt to bring Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s comic masterpiece to the big screen. The other two tried to follow the way Lee and Kirby presented the characters. This one tries to do it with younger characters that do not fit into Lee and Kirby’s typology.
The movie gives us the four characters with the same names, but who they are in the story are very different. Miles Teller plays Reed Richards, a college-aged genius who attempts to teleport people from one point to another. The only problem is he is not moving them on this plane of existence but on to another dimension of existence that becomes known as Planet Zero.
He is aided by Sue Storm (Kate Mara), the adopted daughter of Franklin Storm (Reg. E. Cathey). Franklin is head of a government group attempting to find a way to Planet Zero to use the resources found there for the military. Sue is a genius at pattern recognition. Also, Sue is white. Dr. Strom is African American.
Sue’s brother, Johnny (Michael B. Jordan), is a hot shot mechanical engineer. He is also a hot head with huge father issues. Johnny is African American, too.
Rounding out the four is Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell). He is Reed’s best friend and has been since they were kids working on Reed’s crazy ideas.
All of them go to Planet Zero through the transport system developed by Reed and Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell). There the group is changed physically, with each developing unique powers. Reed can stretch his limbs. Johnny becomes a human torch with the power of flight through flame. Sue has invisibility and a force field she creates. Ben gets the worse end of the powers deal. He becomes a huge, rocky creature known as the Thing.
These four end up squaring off against Victor Von Doom, who gets left on Planet Zero, ends up with telekinetic power and attempts to destroy Earth.
So what is my problem? First, let me say what they got right. What drives the story line of the Fantastic Four in the comic is they are a family. In the comic, Reed and Sue are married. Johnny and Ben are part of the family unit, but they fight like cats and dogs. What Reed keeps searching for is a way to change the group back. Reed blames himself for what happened to the group, especially Ben. The movie does well with this idea.
Yet the film moves beyond that idea to come up with this ham fisted story of trying to stop Doom. The angst angle gets swallowed up by the Doom story. There is not enough character development to make Doom that big of a villain. He is anti-social before the trip to Planet Zero, but there is nothing there that makes one think he is going to be a homicidal maniac. Which brings up another point of contention.
Doom in the comic universe is beyond good and evil. He is not so much homicidal as ego driven. There is hatred between him and Reed that is real because they have always been intellectual rivals. What motivates Doom is how he can make himself look better than Reed.
What I saw was half of a good movie on the Fantastic Four. It was in the second half of the movie that I saw something that doomed (no pun intended) the whole thing.
Josh Trank, the director and co-writer, distanced himself from this movie. He claims that the studio interfered with his movie.
None of that matters now. What got served was a plate full of stink they called a movie. And I am sad.
I am sad because I believe there will never be a fully fleshed out telling of one of the great comic book series in history. And that means that everyone loses. Those long time fans lose. And those who do not know the greatness of the story also lose. Will no one make a movie that does justice to the greatness of what Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created?
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and language
Directed by Josh Trank
Written by Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg and Josh Trank
With: Miles Teller (Reed Richards), Michael B. Jordan (Johnny Storm), Kate Mara (Sue Storm), Jamie Bell (Ben Grimm), Toby Kebbell (Victor Von Doom), Reg E. Cathey (Franklin Storm)