Directed by Josh Trank. Produced by Gregory Goodman, Simon Kinberg, Robert Kulzar, Hutch Parker, and Matthew Vaughn. Written by Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater, and Josh Trank. Release date: August 7, 2015.
By now I feel like most of the people reading this review are aware that 20th Century Fox purchased the film rights to The Fantastic Four from Marvel back before Marvel started to make movies by itself, and now in order to keep those rights, they have to make a Fantastic Four movie every few years. As such, in order to keep the rights, we have a new Fantastic Four movie, rebooting the series with cheaper and younger actors. You've heard of franchise maintenance before, but this isn't even that; it's studio maintenance. It exists so Fox can keep the rights away from Marvel; it's the movie-business equivalent of hoarding draft picks and prospects.
As a result of this, it probably shouldn't surprise anyone that Fantastic Four - or Fant4stic, as the marketing team has decided it's called - isn't any good. It wasn't made with that intention. It doesn't want to tell a good story, it doesn't want to make you think or feel - it doesn't even really care about entertaining you. It exists to re-establish these characters in the public's consciousness, leave open the possibility for a sequel, and make sure that Fox keeps the franchise's rights for another decade or so. It's been made for the most cynical of reasons and it shows. There's almost nothing good to be found here.
The story is of the origin variety, since this is a superhero reboot and that's the path of least resistance - or should I say "effort"? Four intelligent people with very little personality figure out a way to teleport organic matter, but can only do so by forcing it to go to another dimension. They go to this dimension, are infused with energy from it, and gain superpowers. They will, with about ten minutes left in the movie, become the titular "Fantastic Four." Until then, they sit around a government facility, do a bit of training, and wait for the villain to show up so they can magically overcome all of their interpersonal problems and save the world.
Seriously, the villain of the film - and as such the singular reason for action scenes to exist - only shows up in the last twenty minutes of Fantastic Four. He delivers his evil plan, which he's come up with because of reasons that are never especially clear, and then in the final ten minutes we finally get to see a fight. Before then, there's no action at all. It's mostly just people sitting around and spewing exposition, as if there can't be any mystery to the way everything works; as if the audience is too stupid to comprehend that superpowers can exist; as if there wasn't enough of a story to fill a feature-length movie, so the filmmakers decided to overshare in order to fill time. There isn't enough substance here to fill a 30-minute episode of a cartoon, but the filmmakers have stretched it to fill a 105-minute running time.