This month’s superhero movie spectacular, not to be confused with last month’s or next month’s, is a reboot of Marvel’s Fantastic Four franchise which last stank up theaters in 2007. The new one— directed and already Twitter-trashed by Josh Trank from his origin story script co-written by Simon Kinberg and Jeremy Slater — stinks, too. But in new ways. It’s a slog even at 106 minutes because it’s mostly just bricklaying, backstory and buildup, with a rushed, cheesy finale that looks borrowed from a half-dozen other fantasy flicks.
The action, so to speak, begins when a teleportation machine brings its brainy, supposed-to-be-likeable young inventor Reed Richards (Miles Teller, badly miscast) to the attention of super-smart Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey). Storm recruits the kid to join a Manhattan research team that includes his scientist daughter Sue (Kate Mara), his street racing genius son Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) and a weird, broody malcontent brainiac, who carries a torch for Sue, called Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell). Trying to outrace government thugs like Dr. Allen (a gum-chewing Tim Blake Nelson) who are hot to take over the latest iteration of his fancy teleportation thingee, Reed hatches an impulsive plan. He rabble-rouses his sweet, soulful boyhood chum Ben (Jamie Bell, giving the movie’s only affecting performance), Johnny, and Victor to hop in for a visit to a planet pulsating with energy and green goo that looks straight out of a low-budget ‘70s TV sci-fi show. They all return deeply altered — Reed can bend and stretch impossibly, Johnny is all flames, poor Ben is a big, sad, stony Thing, and Victor? Well, he’s no longer Victor, but a dark, twisted, hooded menace who announces: “I AM DOOM!”
Really, these poor actors are all doomed because nothing in the movie sticks. They generate zero chemistry and interplay and the shaky vehicle they’re in has no wit, danger, style, power, or energy. It’s so mind-numbing that you might find your attention straying to such details as Kate Mara’s hair color often changing from scene to scene. Yep, there were reshoots and they were massive. After the whole $100 million got spent, it may be Marvel, but it’s a mess. And the only thing fantastic about it is the miscalculation.