Mundanity Podcast “Spoiler Free” Review: Fantastic 4 (or the superhero movie that could have been)
Fantastic 4 is the latest offering from Fox (the studio that brought you “X-Men: Days of Future Past”… which they are often to promote in trailers and posters), was released in theaters today. Now this is an important reboot at least two reasons, first of which, is that it is one of the main Marvel comic book properties… the “First Family” of Marvel, if you will. Second, it is important to Fox to release a property other than X-Men that is not only popular, but profitable.
For example, let’s take a look at what properties outside of the X-Men franchise have been released by 20th Century Fox.
- Ghost Rider
- Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
- Blade II
- Blade Trinity
- Fantastic Four (2005)
- Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
- The Punisher
- The Punisher: War Zone
Doesn’t exactly make you want to rush out to Netflix or Amazon to see if you can catch these gems on streaming, does it? With the exception of Blade, personally I could pass on the lot. Which oddly is why all of the property rights for the characters above (with the exception of the Fantastic Four) are now back with Marvel Studios.
But I digress…this review will look at what the new Fantastic 4 did, what it tried to do and what could have been. Plus, for fun, I’ll give you my take on the best characterizations of the main characters between the original 2005 film and the reboot.
Originally, this reboot was supposed to be based on a classic Marvel comics storyline based on the Ultimate universe where the origin story from the 1961 comics is updated and the team is younger overall. If you want to know more about the Ultimate storyline, check it out on Wikipedia. The movie follows this storyline somewhat, cherry picking it seems for the best bits as movie adaptations are oft to do. For me, this was a good decision to move away from the classic “cosmic rays” origin story as well as to make the team younger. I felt that this made the characters a bit more relatable than their older counterparts which have been portrayed previously.
The relationships between the primary protagonists had a significant change made from the original 2005 movie as well as the Marvel comic book canon. Instead of Sue and Johnny Storm being brother and sister by blood, they were adopted siblings of Franklin Storm who was Johnny’s biological father. Fan boys around the world couldn’t believe that Johnny Storm was portrayed by an African-American actor. To this I simply say…get over it. Stan Lee liked the idea, and he and Jack Kirby created them…’nuff said.
Speaking of Johnny Storm, Michael B. Jordan did a serviceable job to the character. He was reckless and defiant as in the comics, but didn’t carry the same “cool factor” that I would expect from the Human Torch. I really think that Chris Evan’s original portrayal of the Human Torch was better. Sue Storm, played superbly by Kate Mara, was a clear upgrade from Jessica Alba. Even with her hair randomly switching from real to wig at the most inconvenient times, it was not as bad as Ms. Alba’s fake blond hair and blue contact lenses. Of the four primary characters (five if you count Victor Von Doom), Kate Mara was the most consistent in her performance.
Reed Richards and Ben Grimm had a nice backstory in the beginning of the movie which showed how their friendship was formed, and where The Thing’s catchphrase originated. Miles Teller (Reed Richards), like Jordan, did a serviceable job to the character. However, his portrayal was a bit stiff…especially for a character who is essentially super elastic. I wasn’t that big a fan of Ioan Gruffudd as the original Mister Fantastic, so I’ll say this is a push. That brings us to Ben Grimm/The Thing. Jamie Bell was fine as Ben Grimm, but The Thing just didn’t have “the thing”. Michael Chiklis was a much better Ben Grimm/The Thing. Lastly, we have Victor Von Doom. All I can say is that I am glad that they didn’t go with the whole emo blogger concept originally written and stuck with the fact that his name was actually Victor Von Doom and was from Latveria. Toby Kebbell was decent as Victor Von Doom, and for the brief 10 minutes or so that he was Doctor Doom, I really preferred him over the original portrayed by Julian McMahon. Doctor Doom was as brutal and violent as one would expect him to be…possibly more.
The movie suffers from a lack of action that is now commonplace in Marvel or DC movies. This definitely hurts Fantastic 4 from being a better movie. Blink and you will miss the “final showdown”. Plus, there is no Stan Lee cameo and no after credits scene. So don’t wait around in the dark like I did. They really could have done something epic with this cast and this director. The talent was there, the potential comic book storyline was there, but ultimately I feel like they did not make a superhero movie, and unfortunately for them, that is what we paid to see.
The best summary that I can give came from my daughter Emily. “They should have put this out before Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. Because, now we have an expectation on what a Marvel movie is, and this just wasn’t one. I feel bad for the actors because they seem like they tried.” They did try, but apparently it just wasn’t enough. It wasn’t as bad as some of the reviews that are going around, or perhaps the bar was set so low as a result of them, I was able to have a little bit of fun in spite of it. Let’s hope that this is another franchise like the list above that goes back to Marvel Studios so it can be done right.
4/10 on the Mundanity Scale (1 – Mundane to 10 – Insane)…which would make it something you would catch on Netflix…AFTER you have watched the full first season of Daredevil.
Posted on August 8, 2015, in Comic Books, Marvel, Movie Review and tagged Ben Grimm, comic book movies, Doctor Doom, Fantastic 4, Fox, Jamie Bell, Johnny Storm, Kate Mara, Marvel, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller, Reed Richards, Sue Storm, superhero, The Thing, Toby Kebbell, Victor Von Doom. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.