Directed by: Josh Trank
Written by: Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater, Josh Trank
Starring: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Ben Grimm, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey, Tim Blake Nelson
Hyperbole is tosseed around a lot in this day and age, sometimes to the point of parody. Labeling something recent as “the greatest thing ever” tends to make one lose credibility, or question their knowledge on a subject. Things need time to settle in before they can truly be declared outstanding or deplorable.
Having said all that, I don’t think there’s a movie I hate more than Fantastic Four.
The biggest sin this movie commits is a poorly written script by Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater, and director of the film Josh Trank. Three minds, and all of them forgot what simple story structure was. There’s no three act structure here, mainly because there’s no plot here. Stuff just happens, only because it has to follow the structure of the comic books. They don’t give these characters any personality, or traits (hate to break it to you, but smacking gum isn’t character development.) The dialogue is just as atrocious, as Sue Storm says to Victor Von Doom at one point, “Listen to Dr. Doom over here.”
Josh Trank is equally to blame for this catastrophe. Like the bland script, Trank chooses to not inject his movie with any personality. Trank feels more at home just pointing the camera and recording things, as it seems he can’t be concerned with getting solid performances from his actors or stringing together a coherent movie. Midway through this trainwreck, Reed Richards escapes from the military facility where the four are being studied. What ensues isn’t a big chase scene, but a title card that reads “One Year Later.” It feels like there’s a good thirty minutes of movie missing, but who’s sure if it’s actually decent. It’s a blessing he was kicked off of Star Wars.
Trank has also completely miscast his film, with most of the actors either out of place or just God-awful in their roles. Miles Teller looks out of place as Reed, like he’s not sure how to handle a movie of this size. Teller is not the straight, serious man, as much as this movie wants to tell me he is. Kate Mara seems to be in a completely different planet as Sue Storm, reading her lines as if someone is holding cue cards off-screen. Much was made about the decision to cast Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm, but he needs to be an actual character before we can debate his race. Jamie Bell is serviceable as Ben Grimm, but the movie shortchanges him the most. Toby Kebbell is almost forgettable as Dr. Doom, but that’s the film’s fault, and while I love Reg E. Cathey, here he’s essentially a poor man’s Morgan Freeman (really, he’s playing Franklin Storm, but every time he speaks it’s like he’s giving a speech.)
The Fantastic Four shouldn’t be this hard to adapt. For as bad as the Tim Story versions are, they at least get the sense of fun that embodies the team. Josh Trank and company have no clue what they’re doing, as their iteration is all over the place in terms of tone. Where a lot of movies that are hailed as awful at least have some personality (either as light or as mean as it may be,) Fantastic Four is devoid of that. It’s also devoid of character development, action, or plot. Y’know, things that make a movie fantastic.