'Fantastic Four' Early Reviews: A Half-Cooked Superhero Movie Reboot

Fantastic Four (2015) cast and TV Spot

20th Century Fox's decision to reboot the Fantastic Four film franchise in the first place was generally well-received by comic book movie fans, as was the studio's subsequent choice of Josh Trank (fresh off his breakout hit Chronicle) as the project's director. However, nearly every creative decision made on the film since then (using the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic book series as the source material, casting young rising stars like Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan, embracing a dark and grounded tone) seems to have proven highly controversial within the superhero movie fan community.

It didn't help that Fox's marketing push for the Fantastic Four reboot took longer than expected to get underway. Once it did, though, the trailers weren't able to overcome the tide of bad buzz, especially in the wake of rumors about behind the scenes problems during production on the film.

So, with all that in mind, we come to the million dollar question concerning the Fantastic Four movie reboot: was the finished product even worth all that trouble, at the end of the day? Well, the first wave of official reviews for the film have made their way online (earlier than the embargo date previously set by Fox), so you can find our for yourself what critics (so far) have to say on the matter.

Here is the official synopsis and trailer for Fantastic Four (2015), followed by spoiler-free reviews excerpts for the film (click the corresponding links for the full reviews):

FANTASTIC FOUR, a contemporary re-imagining of Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero team, centers on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.


Variety - Brian Lowry

[Previous 'Fantastic Four' movies] didn’t set the bar inordinately high. Yet if this latest version, with a significantly younger cast (one’s tempted to call it “Fantastic Four High”), clears that threshold, it’s just barely, drawing from a different source to reimagine the quartet’s origins without conspicuously improving them. All told, the movie feels like a protracted teaser for a more exciting follow-up that, depending on whether audiences warm to this relatively low-key approach, might never happen.

The Wrap - Alonso Duralde

['Fantastic Four' (2015)] offers glimmers of good things to come... but only after the audience has slogged through yet another dispiriting origin story... Director Josh Trank, whose debut feature “Chronicle” put a smart new spin on superhero tropes, has assembled a quartet of engaging, charismatic performers and stranded them in a miasma of exposition and set-up that sinks the movie. So much time is spent putting the pieces on the board that there’s barely any time to play with them.

Coming Soon - Edward Douglas

While not nearly the disaster people seem to be expecting or hoping for, Fantastic Four should and could have been better because there was potential in some of its better ideas. Instead, it ends up being a fairly standard superhero movie, which makes one think that maybe the Fantastic Four just aren’t meant for a live-action movie.

Fantastic Four (2015) - Traveling to the N-Zone Dimension

THR - Todd McCarthy

Fantastic Four feels like a 100-minute trailer for a movie that never happens. At this point in the ever-expanding cinematic superhero game, it behooves any filmmakers who get involved to have at least a mildly fresh take on their characters and material, but this [Marvel superhero movie] proves maddeningly lame and unimaginative... The reins have been handed to director and co-writer Josh Trank, whose one previous feature was the 2012 “found-footage” thriller Chronicle. Unfortunately, there is no youthful enthusiasm or sense of reinvention evident in this outing.

Digital Spy - Emma Dibdin

In the face of such bad buzz, it's hard not to feel a little sorry for the finished product, which is a harmless and endearingly cartoonish throwback to more simple comic book movie times. But whatever strengths Fantastic Four has, it does not feel like a movie directed by Trank (who made such a striking debut with 2012's bold anti-superhero fable Chronicle) or for that matter by anyone. It's a muddled and underdeveloped origin story which segues jarringly from light-hearted adventure to heavy-handed grit, grasping for a gravitas that it hasn't earned.

Screen Daily - Tim Grierson

After battling months of bad buzz about a troubled production and the need for reshoots, Fantastic Four emerges as a wounded animal of a superhero movie, only rarely showing flashes of the darker, more emotional breed of Marvel film it’s trying to be. Certainly, Fox’s rebooting of the franchise blessedly lacks the dopey irreverence of the 2005 version and its sequel, both directed by Tim Story, but Chronicle filmmaker Josh Trank struggles to balance an origin story, mediocre comic-book action, and a strained metaphor about dysfunctional families. A good cast led by Miles Teller gets swallowed up in a narrative that grows progressively more muddled and tedious.

Fantastic Four cast


The overall impression of Fantastic Four (2015) reviews thus far appears to be that the Marvel comic book adaptation is (somewhat maddeningly) banal and uninventive, as opposed to being an outright terrible addition to the superhero movie genre. The film's main cast - which, in addition to Teller and Jordan, includes rising stars like Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, and Toby Kebbell - has even gotten some praise for their work; Trank and screenwriter Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past), on the other hand, are the ones being held largely responsible for the movie's shortcomings.

Interestingly enough, though, a number of reviews indicate that a Fantastic Four sequel - featuring the new versions of the eponymous characters - could turn out far better than its predecessor, so long as a steadier directorial hand oversees the next stage of construction and builds upon the foundation laid down by Trank's reboot. Of course, the box office returns for the first chapter in the rebooted F4 movie series will be what ultimately determines whether or not Fox moves ahead with its rumored Fantastic Four franchise expansion plans (regardless of how critics feel about the matter)...

Fantastic Four opens in theaters on August 7, 2015, followed by Deadpool on February 12, 2016; X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016; Gambit on October 7, 2016; Wolverine 3 on March 3, 2017; Fantastic Four 2 on June 9, 2017; and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.

Source: Various (see the above links)

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