There is a conflict of movies in here. Someone wanted to make a superhero movie. Someone else wanted to make a sci-fi thriller. Neither get done particularly well. Even if it was just one coherent movie idea, there are still other problems.
This is an older movie, so I think I’ll just have some spoilers here and there, no separate spoiler section.
Now, Fantastic Four can be considered more successful if you take it as a sci-fi thriller. That’s the prevailing tone going on. It’s dark, in lighting, and mostly somber. There are some scenes of laughter, but that comes after getting sad drunk. As a superhero movie, it’s not, really. Not at all, I think.
I did enjoy the sci-fi thriller parts, though. It’s done fine. And you know what, I like this version of Ben. He’s not a rough and tough giant guy. he’s just a small guy wanting to help his friend who happened to get the worse of it. It’s kinda heartbreaking seeing the Thing pleading for help. Johnny Storm is also pretty good, actually. I enjoyed his performance.
For those that want a Fantastic Four like the comics, this is nowhere close. It’s like someone jammed the Fantastic Four characters into another story. Young scientist Reed Richards has discovered the way to stabilize a portal to another dimension. He gets recruited by Franklin Storm, father of Johnny Storm and adoptive father of Sue Storm. Victor von Doom also works for the project. Together, the make a dimension hopping device.
Oh, Ben? Ben starts as Reed’s friend, but is not involved in Franklin Storm’s project at all. Ben just get’s called in later because he’s Reed’s best friend.
And Sue, she doesn’t even get to go to the other dimension the first time! She get’s her powers from shockwaves, man, shockwaves!
The movie seems to make every attempt not to do character-building moments. Ben has an abusive family. Never brought up after that one scene. Reed has awkward conversation with Sue hinting at attraction. Nope, never again. Ben is upset at Reed for leaving after everyone gets powers? Just forgive him without talking things out. And sure, let’s just timeskip one year after everyone gets their powers. No need to see them adjust to that.
I cannot remember one normal conversation going on in the movie. It’s all awkward talking, explaining stuff or terse, one word conversations.
Then there’s Doom. He just get’s lost in the other dimension and turns crazy. That’s it. He starts out arrogant, ends up planet-destroying crazy. He does provide one of the best scenes in the movie, though. He turns the movie into a straight horror for a while as he goes around the base.
Then, at the end of it all, the four declare themselves the Fantastic Four, despite working together only once and because they absolutely had to. They never do any heroing or even try to work together before that. In fact, the team actively avoids each other!
There’s just no real sense of payoff for them coming together at the end because you don’t see anything growth or bonding in the film at all.
Well, if not taken as a superhero team film, I think the sci-fi thriller parts work pretty well. It’s not Fantastic Four, though.