June 13, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

New Fantastic Four fails to meet Marvel’s high standard

Fantastic Four didn't meet fans' expectations.
Fantastic Four didn’t meet fans’ expectations.

Before the Avengers and X-Men, the Fantastic Four were Marvel’s first superhero team of the Silver Age. So it only makes sense this famous foursome would make a return to the Big Screen in 2015.

Sadly, though, this latest superhero reboot is a big disappointment and falls way below expectations. That’s too bad, because as a big fan of superhero films and a longtime comic book collector, I had high hopes for the new Fantastic Four.

I tried to ignore the early reports of script problems and other issues that can plague big-budget productions. When I saw screenwriter Simon Kinberg’s (X-Men) name attached to the project it certainly gave me hope that the new FF could interesting on many levels.

Studio leaders tried to promote the superhero thriller as a younger yet darker version of the FF. And the beginning of the film started somewhat promising. But Fantastic Four never developed into the kind of film fans now expect (although the film was produced by 20th Century Fox, it’s still Marvel characters).

So what went wrong?

Well, plenty. Let’s just say the main problem was that director Josh Trank’s 2015 version of the Fantastic Four failed to capture the essence of the classic comic book characters. The relationship between super scientist Reed Richards (who becomes the super-stretching Mr. Fantastic) and Susan Storm (the Invisible Woman) — who are romantically involved in the comics and eventually get married — failed to click in the new movie. Actor Miles Teller did a good enough job playing Reed Richards as a young genius working on a new scientific breakthrough, but his chemistry with co-star Kate Mara (Sue Storm) was never allowed to develop.

Actor Michael B. Jordan was impressive playing the impulsive and impatient Johnny Storm, who eventually becomes the Human Torch. It should be noted that Jordan is a black actor playing a character that was white in the comic book series. It’s a good change for the movie, though, to keep things more current and to add more minorities to the superhero universe.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment, though, was the handling of the Fantastic Four’s most popular and beloved member, Ben Grimm (The Thing). While I have no doubt that Jamie Bell is a fine actor (as evidenced by his strong supporting role in Peter Jackson’s “King Kong”), Bell didn’t have much to work with as Ben Grimm. It’s almost like this main character is an after-thought.

When Ben makes his shocking transformation following a cosmic accident, the Thing is nothing more than an ugly rock monster. While the newest CGI-version of the Thing is much more impressive than earlier screen versions, he’s missing the heart, humanity, and humor of the comic book character.

In contrast, actor Michael Chiklis did a much better job when he played the Thing in the 2005 movie version of Fantastic Four. Although often plagued with pathos and self-pity, Chiklis gave Ben Grimm/Thing his vaunted sense of humor that’s been a big part of the success of the Fantastic Four.

And every great superhero or super team needs a worthy villain, and the FF have one of the best in Doctor Doom. This time Doom is played by newcomer Toby Kebbell, who spends much of his time brooding and looking sad on screen. No longer is Victor Von Doom just a genius ego-maniac who covers scars on his face by wearing a metallic mask (and donning a dark green cape with hood for dramatic effect). The new version of Doom shows him literally transformed into a kind of monstrous super-being who wants to rule a strange, primitive planet in a parallel universe.

While Doctor Doom is one of the best and most famous bad guys in comics, perhaps it would have been a better to include other villains such as Annihilus (ruler of the Negaive Zone) or even the Mole Man in the latest FF film feature.

Anyway, here’s a spoiler alert:
The final battle between the Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom turns out to be anti-climactic, and the movie seems to end abruptly and surprisingly leaving audiences to think: “That’s it?”

There wasn’t even the usual extra scene following the ending movie credits, the final blow to audiences expecting so much more from modern superhero movies.

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