This might be the biggest disappointment of 2015 for me. This is certainly not the worst movie of the year. Although, many who have had it in for this movie since its inception will tell you it is. No, this is actually a really good movie for about 50 minutes, an interestingly flawed one for about 20 minutes, and then the (out of nowhere) ending is like watching a train wreck slowly unfold. Which left me utterly disappointed and hoping strongly that someone gets an opportunity to make it right.
It’s hard to know whether to blame the writers of this film or if the studio jumped in when they saw how depressing the movie was and decided to through in some spectacle. I truly couldn’t tell, but I’d really like to know if there’s an extended cut somewhere with the rest of the second and third act. Maybe, when this thing goes to Blu Ray and DVD we will get one. For now, we are stuck with a little over half of a good movie.
One thing I can say with certainty is that no fault should be planted at the feet of the talented cast. Every actor in this movie does a fine job and I think they were the perfect choices for the roles. I also enjoyed the score and set designs. Hell, I loved the entire science fiction aspect of this movie. In fact, I would be more inclined to call it a science fiction movie before I’d call it a superhero movie and that’s a good thing.
A lot have complained about the lack of humor here, but I think it works perfectly well with the story that’s being told. There is plenty of playfulness between the cast and wonder at what’s being created. I laughed a few times. The whole thing feels authentic to what it’s trying to do. It also feels very well routed in its science and watching these young actors discover this new dimension is a delight.
I also really like the way the film handles the characters transformation into their super powers. These powers feel more like a disturbing mutation and the way the film plays this transformation for fear is true to the reality of the situation. The bottom line is that this movie is an interesting science fiction film about the effects of inter dimensional travel until its third act identity crisis.
The whole thing starts with a 12 year old Reed Richards (played as an adult by Miles Teller) trying to build a machine that can transport matter. It takes him seven years, but as a young adult his friend Ben (Jamie Bell) and him make a small version work. This catches the eye of Dr. Storm (Reg E. Cathey) and his daughter Sue (Kate Mara). So, they invite him to come and help them finish their own version on a much larger scale.
Along with a brilliant loner named Victor (Toby Kebbell) and Dr. Storm’s son Johnny (Michael B. Jordan), this new team build a device to transport them to another dimension and back. Sadly for them, when they are in this new dimension everything seems to go wrong. The world covers them in this energy that transforms them in ways they could have never imagined.
When they return Johnny is on fire, Ben is a rock man, Sue is going invisible, and Reed can stretch like crazy. This is horrifying to all of them, but after seeing his friend Ben in pain (and knowing he can’t do anything about it) Reed escapes the government. The story picks up a year later and it is at this point the movie begins to falter a bit. It’s not particularly bad, but it is odd to skip the period of time they should be becoming a team and honing their skills.
I’m not going to ruin the rest with specific details, but I am going to try to explain where it all goes wrong. After the year later, very little happens. We get some details on what the guys have all been doing and it’s interesting enough. Honestly, if it had kept going once Reed comes back into the picture then they could have easily used another 20 to 30 minutes to develop the team, bring the bad guy into the picture, have them get beaten for learning purposes, and set some stakes up for a final showdown.
Instead, within 10 minutes of the bad guy showing up the movie is over. Hell, within 5 minutes of him revealing his intentions the movies only action sequence is over. Which isn’t bad because the movie even needed an action sequence. No, it’s because the way the sequence takes place is so rushed, so expository, and so poorly choreographed that it might be the least impressive action sequence I’ve seen this decade. The super smart kids that have been encompassing the film turn into superhero cardboard cut outs with cliched catch phrases. It’s truly awful and unbelievably disappointing.
So, am I recommending this movie to you? Boy, that is a difficult question. I really like half of this movie and I was very interested in it 90% of its running time. Yet, that last 10% is so bad that it’s hard to know whether the rest makes up for it. I can certainly tell you that the movie is worth watching and I will likely rent it when it comes out for home viewing, but seeing it in the theaters seems like something I can only recommend in the self interest that they make another one to fully realize these characters. Bottom line, this is a really good sci fi film until the shitty superhero stuff gets in the way. Take that for what it’s worth.