Rating: 1.5 Stars
The following review contains spoilers.
Reed Richards, a brilliant high school student obsessed with inventing a teleporter, is recruited by the Baxter Institute to assist with their interdimensional travel program. Together with pattern-recognizer Sue Storm, “engineer” Johnny Storm, and grumpy computer guy Victor Von Doom, they succeed in opening up a portal to a place they’ve dubbed the Negative Zo – um, Planet Zero. But when they learn the project is being taken away from them and given to NASA (those jerks!), they impulsively suit up and go for it, including Reed’s childhood friend Ben Grimm for no legitimate reason, and excluding Sue because she’s a girl and would probably be all like, “Guys, I don’t think this is a good idea. Ooh, we’re gonna get in trouble! Ah geez, I’m a girl!”
They wander aimlessly around Planet Zero a bit, having failed to bring any sample kits or scientific equipment, until a little impromptu lava-caressing leads to a green lava explosion. Doom is apparently killed, and the rest barely make it back. We see Ben being pelted with rocks, so that’s apparently why he becomes a rock guy, and Sue runs into the room right as they return and gets blasted with energy, turning invisible because she was totally ignored by the people she considered her friends. And Johnny catches fire and Reed stretches because of other reasons I’m sure.
They wake up in a military facility, fully freaking out about how freaky they are. Reed escapes, on his way out promising to come back for Ben and find a cure. Cut to a year later, and he totally didn’t come back. Ben is now working for the Army and has dozens of confirmed kills, so that’s fun, and Johnny and Sue are training to use their powers with some shipping containers and stuff, though Sue keeps saying they’re just killing time until they can be cured and has no intention of doing anything with her powers. Having not taken any notes of how the device worked last time, the “Government” realize they need Reed if they want to get back to Planet Zero, and eventually Sue uses her crazy good pattern recognition skills to figure out he’s in a cabin in Panama.
Reed comes back to the U.S. and fixes their dimension-hopper, and a real science team with real scientific equipment goes across. They are shocked to see Victor Von Doom there, still alive, but completely fused into his protective suit. They bring him back, but now he’s all crazy and telekinetic, and he starts popping brains left and right. He’s decided that only one planet can live, for some reason, and he chooses Planet Zero, for some reason. Doom returns to Zero, and uses his undefined powers to open up a black hole (and that’s definitely not what a black hole is) between the dimensions that will suck up and destroy the entire Earth. The Fantastic Four follow him and combine their powers to kill him and close the portal. They realize they make a good team, and straight-up bully the “Government” into giving them their own scientific facility with no oversight of any kind. Together they truly are… the Fantastic Four.
If you were to chart out the quality of this movie, it would be a straight line starting fairly high at the beginning and declining steadily to the end.
Almost everything up until they jump forward a year is a pretty decent science-fiction story. I thought the young Reed and Ben scenes were handled well, and I enjoyed seeing the Baxter team working together on the teleportation device. Their motivation of wanting to be the first people to visit the other dimension and recklessly going for it tied in nicely with the original 1961 comic book origin, in which they steal a rocket ship to beat the Russians to manned space flight.
CGI-Thing looks pretty good, but pants would have been nice. I actually think the Doom design looks kinda neat.
I liked Reed stretching his face to disguise his identity, and would’ve liked to have seen more of Reed on the run.
Miles Teller is a pretty good young Reed Richards. Kata Mara is fine, and definitely better than Jessica Alba. Toby Kebbell is definitely better than Julian McMahon.
Doom: “Hello Susan.”
Sue: “Hello Victor.”
Reed: “Oh, do you prefer ‘Susan’?”
Not having Sue go with them to Planet Zero is stupid bullshit. You could have the main four go, and Doom be furious he was left behind, or you could have Ben Grimm there to witness it, and his proximity gives him powers (like they did with Sue). So many better options than what they went with.
Everything after One Year Later is pretty bad. The whole thing feels rushed. Things are moving at a leisurely pace up until then and then suddenly it’s all on fast-forward and the movie’s over. The characters barely interact after getting their powers, and the big “We can do it, but only if we work together!” moment is completely hollow. I don’t think Sue and Ben ever even speak to each other until the final battle.
This whole thing is wasted potential. There aren’t an abundance of “Boy, wasn’t that dumb?” scenes, but instead just a lot of empty spaces where it should have been so much better. Besides Reed, none of the other FF are developed as characters. Dr. Doom, traditionally the Fantastic Four’s greatest enemy, is a barely-there pushover with unclear motivations and unclear powers. He’s just a stepping stone to them realizing they should work together.
The final scene of Reed saying they should have a team name is tonally insane compared to the rest of the movie. He sounds like a lunatic, and Johnny calling Ben “the thing no one wanted”, which I think is an attempt to establish their friendly-ribbing relationship, just makes Johnny sound like the biggest asshole. What does it even mean for them to be a team? What are they planning to do in this facility? What here is supposed to make us want to see their next adventure? It’s without a doubt the worst scene in the movie.
“Listen to Dr. Doom over here.”