This Fantastic Four reboot origin story is pretty bad. It’s not awful, but it is close to unwatchable, and far less entertaining than the heavily reviled Pixels. At least it has the decency to keep itself to 100 minutes and forego a false ending.
Note to future scientists: DO NOT work on an inter-dimensional travel gate with anyone whose last name is VON DOOM, especially after he gets his advanced degree and (spoiler alert) becomes DR. DOOM. But as with many of the other summer movies, the real villain is reckless pursuit of science.
Most other critics have noticed that the main cast is certainly capable and the acting is fine, but boyoboyoboy, manomanoman is this plot a dud. With a thud. And you know Tim Blake Nelson plays a bad guy because he chews gum with his mouth open, and with great affectation, possibly an acting skill he learned from his junior high drama teacher.
The movie is about 80% boring and lame setup, then a reckless drunken trip to Planet Zero, and then a final act which is sudden and innocuous. The movie is shot with a really dark blue look, and that sets the tone of depression and malaise.
It starts with a search for a power converter, and ends with everything being fantastic. Sue Storm is cold but she loves Portishead and is really good at pattern recognition. Apparently none of the patterns she can see raise any red flags about working with a creepy guy with attachment issues named VON DOOM.
The origin story includes welding and screwing and bolting and tweaking source code. Oh, and there’s a really exciting moment when Reed Richards spins in an office chair and takes a selfie (spoiler alert) of himself. And remember your really cool sunglasses when you’re in the lab, because inter-dimensional travel is really bright. Personally, I would just look away.
Here’s the real spoiler alert: how they get their superpowers is pretty lame, just a simple throwback to The Fly and the Brundlefly. They return to Earth, but the rock guy does so with rocks, the flame guy does so with fire, the plastic guy does so with, um, Silly Putty (I guess), VON DOOM does not return but instead fuses with his suit and the Planet Zero, and somehow their return causes Sue (who never went to Planet Zero) to fuse with a force field and an invisible hat (I guess). This all happens just after a healthy dose of American exceptionalism by planting a U.S. flag on Planet Zero and Instagramming it.
None of it would’ve happened if they hadn’t been drunk. So raise a glass and get drunk, because you never know where you might end up the next day, or who you might become.
It’s funny that VON DOOM gets jealous over the face time Reed gets with Sue, but Reed only seems to have man-bro love for his buddy, Thing. It is a bit reminiscent of Captain America’s love for Bucky.
The final battle includes some pretty laughable special effects, especially when Reed does a double-punch across about 50 yards, à la Dhalsim. But even though they have some differences, the Fantastic Four are able to set those differences aside to save Earth and become a family.
It would be touching, but who wants to touch the Thing?