Concluding 2015’s summer superheroes, Director Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four premiered Friday, rehashing a tweaked origin story but overall a “fantastic” bore.
Like a rite of passage, superhero reboots are forever trapped reiterating the transformative events that separate their protagonists from mankind. This past decade treated comic book fans to some promising adaptions, but after three (now four) unsuccessful attempts since 1994, the Fantastic Four films have become a little more than a failed experiment. It begs the question: how many times are we going to watch the Fantastic Four’s science project go wrong or Bruce Wayne’s parents die or Peter Parker get bitten by a radioactive spider? What is the necessity of repeating their origins?
It’s not a direct adaption, though. Originally set during the Space Race, borrowing the previous installment’s idea of modernizing the new Fantastic Four was a plus. But the film downplays the millennial cast as immature college youths. For supposed geniuses capable of mastering inter-dimensional travel, watching the famed freak accident triggered from a drunken idea, which was shared over a flask of alcohol, was disappointing.
The life-altering event, and anything involving the characters as the Fantastic Four, occurred about halfway through the movie. Not before building up an hour of Reed Richard’s (Miles Teller) unnecessary childhood and academic studies, as well as explaining the teleportation device in a setup that stretched longer than Mr. Fantastic. Even when united, Marvel’s First Family shared anything but familial chemistry.
That’s right, the main antagonist of this film wasn’t the disfigured and dull Dr. Doom (Toby Kebbell), but Marvel’s old arch-nemesis, character development. The plot never allowed the characters time to connect with each other. Any bonding was implied off-screen, as the plot jumped over significant time gaps. Instead, the wasted talent’s personalities come off more transparent than the Invisible Girl (Kate Mara).
From there, the plot sprinted to a final battle that no undeveloped superheroes could save, not even the Human Torch (Michael B. Jordan) or a CGI-aggressive Thing (Jamie Bell). If the characters aren’t clicking, the audience isn’t, either.
It’s hard to say if Trank’s Fantastic Four improved from the film’s distant 1994-2007 relatives. With lackluster characters and a ton of setup, the latest installment disappointed with an overused origin story that was uneventful, unremarkable, and most definitely forgettable. You know, until the series is rebooted again.