Fantastic Four: Grim Storm, by Rudie Obias
Twentieth Century Fox had a keen eye on rebooting the Fantastic Four since the last film in the series, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, flamed out in 2007. They still have the film rights, so they have to make a new movie so the rights don’t revert back to Marvel Studios and Disney. Eight years later, the studio hired director Josh Trank (Chronicle) and a new cast of up-and-coming young Hollywood stars – Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell – to play Marvel Comic’s first superhero family and team. While everyone involved in the project had good intentions to deliver something new and fresh, the end result falls very, very, very, very far from fantastic.
Fantastic Four begins in 2007 with a young Reed Richards telling his middle school class that he plans to invent teleportation during the school’s career day. His teacher immediately brings his hopes and dreams down, while it doesn’t seem to phase Richards at all. In fact, he inspires a young Ben Grimm to help him achieve his goal by supplying him raw materials from his family’s scrap yard in New York to build his machine. The two successfully build a teleportation machine in his garage, but not before the power in his neighborhood goes out. The film cuts to seven years later with Reed Richards and Ben Grimm as young adults.
Reed Richards (Miles Teller) is recruited to help the Baxter Foundation build a way to get to a newly discovered dimension. The foundation’s director Professor Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) recruits him to work with his daughter Sue (Kate Mara) and his star student Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) to make his dream of quantum teleportation a reality. Storm’s son Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) is a brash and irreverent race car driver who gets into an accident in his father’s car, so as a punishment, he’s sent to help build the new machine. Johnny is a brilliant engineer and provides the film any real humor or charm, which is painfully muffled and muted.
Once they successful build the Quantum Gate, Reed, Victor, and Johnny decide they want to be the first people to go to the new dimension, so they plan to do so in secret. But not before Reed asks Ben to join them because of…reasons? The four of them enter the new dimension, which is called Planet Zero or the Negative Zone, they immediately cause a collapse that transforms them with uncanny superpowers, but not before Victor gets trapped in the dimension. Once back on Earth, Reed, Ben, Johnny, and Sue, who also helped them get back, get infected with superhuman powers. And blah, blah, blah…
If you’ve noticed that the synopsis above is longer than usual, you have a keen eye. It’s actually quite hard to recap Fantastic Four because there’s no real story here, but rather 100 minutes of expository scene after scene to build a bigger universe. In fact, the first hour of Fantastic Four is all plotting and set up for an anti-climactic third act and resolution that seems to whimper by the time the end credits start to roll. Fantastic Four is almost inexplicable because there is no real story, characters, setting, or concrete ideas. It’s almost as if it’s barely a movie in only the strictest sense. I mean, there were moving images on the big screen with sound, acting, and special effects, but nothing seems to work together, unlike the comic book Fantastic Four superhero family.
It’s also aggressively ugly and dull, in terms of color pallet and photography. Fantastic Four is a very grim and cold looking movie with an unnatural blue color grading that’s adds to the film’s overall tedious and monotonous plotting. The film is an example of how “dark and gritty” or “realistic” take on superheroes just doesn’t work or make things better. It actually makes things worse when compared to the original movies this new film is rebooting. In fact, I’d argue that the original films know exactly what they are and try to achieve some level of entertainment and enjoyment. The new Fantastic Four offers up psuedo-science and smart talk mumbo-jumbo and passes off as interesting and fresh when it’s the complete opposite.
Here’s an example: in the first Fantastic Four, the family gets their new powers within the first 15 minutes. In the new reboot, it takes them an hour to get their powers. One full hour before any superhero shenanigans happen. And within that one hour, it’s just a mess of scientific explanations and ill-conceived attempts at character development and a dumb love triangle that is never explored or relevant to anything before or after it’s introduced.
You’ve got to hand it to Josh Trank for making a movie that fails in almost every way. Fantastic Four is just frustrating because you can see hints of something interesting, but without the knowledge to build upon those ideas. It’s not laughable or flimsy, it’s just plain boring and uninteresting for a superhero movie, a science fiction movie, a character study, or just a movie, in general. It takes itself so seriously that it fails to live up to the tone it sets out for itself.