Went to see the new Fantastic Four and it's probably good I did since based on the reviews and the crowd it won't be in the theaters very long. There's been a lot of banter about how crummy this movie is and I don't have much interest in that. I went to see for myself and it's not crummy, but it's far from perfect. Spoilers below, so tread with care.
One level it did do what it was supposed to do, carve out territory so different in tone and style that it did make you forget the earlier two Fox FF movies, both of which I personally enjoyed as solid if not stellar superhero flicks. The thing is, this FF movie ain't really a superhero flick.
It's rock hard science fiction, and that's it's best feature. I felt through much of it that what I was watching was a gritty sci-fi adventure about the discovery of a dangerous other dimension dubbed "Planet Zero" (the Negative Zone, one in which Blastaar would feel right at home) which might yield great resources, but most likely would give only grief. The look and feel of the movie right up until the Fab 4 transform is not the sleek look of superheroes but the drab and mildly shabby world of reasonably firm sci-fi.
That said when the transformations come they are visually spectacular, realized in refreshing ways which make the powers seem more like afflictions than gifts. But it's at about this point that the movie loses its way some. Instead of pursuing this notion that with great power comes great pain and suffering, the movie glosses over these transitional events, compressing events and jumping forward a full year. It's that year in which might've rested a somewhat better movie.
As in the earlier efforts, the need to include Victor Von Doom as one of the recipients of the great power of Planet Zero, but who having been unavoidably left behind in the accident which empowered them all is bristling with weird kinetic powers and downright murderously nuts. He reminded more of the Doc Doom who possessed the Silver Surfer's powers than the classic Doom, a mistake the other Fox FF made. This is a bloody flick and there were kids in the theater I was in who were way too little to be watching what proved to be some pretty graphic material.
The battle between the Fantastic Four (who never call themselves that in the movie by the way) and "Doctor Doom" (who is called that once as a joke) is too brief and a bit generic. The heroes barely own their powers, making them work in tandem then the movie is suddenly over.We do get a bit of a tag ending which shows the team assembled and in costume (which I did like since they were functional) and in a sprawling headquarters dubbed "Central City".
I didn't hate this movie by any stretch. The look and feel of the movie was enjoyable, even inventive in the early stages. But the characters, especially the Fab 4 themselves seem to have too little chemistry and were given too little chance to develop it. There are some nice touches such as the use of "Central City", a newer clever use for the Baxter Building, and the use of Franklin Storm as the unifying force for the team is a neat gimmick which makes better use of a character who was rather thrown away in the comics. Tim Blake Nelson, an actor I usually like is wasted as a scene chewing villain who is presented with neither the empathy nor cleverness to make us give two whits about him or his influence. Too bad, much more could've been done here. The movie ends briskly, too quick in fact. It need at least another ten minutes and arguably fifteen to give the heft to the finale that it deserved.