Miles Teller (Divergent)
Michael B. Jordan (Creed)
Kate Mara (Iron Man 2)
Jamie Bell (King Kong)
Toby Kebbell (Dawn of The Planet of The Apes)
Reg E.Cathey (Seven)
Tim Blake Nelson (The Incredible Hulk)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Wayne Pére (Cloak & Dagger)
Friends Reed Richards and Ben Grimm have worked together on a prototype teleporter since childhood, eventually attracting the attention of Professor Franklin Storm, director of the Baxter Foundation, a government-sponsored research institute for young prodigies. Reed is recruited to join them and aid Storm’s children, scientist Sue Storm and the somewhat reckless technician Johnny Storm, into completing a “Quantum Gate” designed by Storm’s wayward protégé, Victor von Doom, who begrudgingly agrees to help due to his unrequited feelings for Sue.
The experiment is successful, and the facility’s supervisor, Dr. Allen, plans to send a group from NASA to venture into a parallel dimension known as “Planet Zero”. Disappointed at being denied the chance to join the expedition, Reed, Johnny, and Victor along with Ben use the Quantum Gate to embark on an unsanctioned voyage to Planet Zero, which they learn is a world filled with otherworldly substances. Victor attempts to touch the green-lava like substance, causing the surface they are on to collapse and the ground to erupt. Reed, Johnny, and Ben return to their shuttle just as Sue brings them back to Earth. Victor is left behind after he falls into the collapsing landscape. The machine explodes, altering Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben on a molecular-genetic level, affording them superhuman conditions and abilities beyond their control: Reed can stretch like rubber, Sue can become invisible and generate force fields of energy, Johnny can engulf his entire body in flames and fly, and Ben becomes bigger and develops a rock-like hide which gives him enhanced strength and durability. They are then placed in government custody and confinement to be studied and have their conditions and abilities tested. Blaming himself for the accident, Reed escapes from the facility and tries to find a cure for their changes.
One year later, Reed is now a fugitive and has built a suit that is able to adapt to his body’s plasticity and also helps him control his ability. Hiding in Central America, he is eventually found by the United States military with Sue’s help and captured by Ben, who has become a military asset along with Johnny and Sue. Johnny and Sue have been outfitted with specialized suits designed to help them stabilize and control their abilities. Reed is brought to Area 57, where Dr. Allen conscripts him to open another portal to Planet Zero in exchange for giving Reed the necessary resources to find a cure. Arriving in Planet Zero, Dr. Allen’s explorers find Victor, who has been fused to his spacesuit and can now control the elements, as well as having telekinetic abilities, and bring him back to Earth. Believing the human race needs to be destroyed so he can rebuild Planet Zero in his image, Victor kills scientists and soldiers in the base including Dr. Allen and Professor Storm and returns to Planet Zero using the Quantum Gate, with Ben, Johnny, Reed, and Sue in pursuit.
Now dubbing himself “Doom”, Victor activates a portal on Planet Zero using a structure he made while in the realm, that begins consuming the landscape of the Earth. He is confronted by the four and, after a destructive battle, Ben punches Doom into the portal’s energy beam, disintegrating him, while Johnny closes the portal. Returning to Earth, the group is rewarded for their heroics by being given a new base of operations by the US military. They decide to use their powers to help people and adopt the mantle of the “Fantastic Four”.
It’s certainly different from the comics, so if you go into it with an open mind you may find a better experience than if you want it to remain the same. It’s inventive, there’s an engaging cast, the Marco Beltrami/Philip Glass score is wonderful, but ultimately it goes against a lot of the superhero conventions. The big action setpieces had to be scrapped due to budgetary concerns and it shows. It’s a slow moving film but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth checking out. It’s notably darker with some elements of Cronenberg-esque body horror, yet it still has elements of humour and the ending isn’t really that bad. Some aspects could have been developed better and some of the reshoots are laughably bad – like with Reed asking Sue if she’s adopted. But it’s definitely worth watching even just to see what aspects didn’t work so well or to see the elements that do work. Because the elements that work are really gripping, and it’s very interesting to see superheroes reduced to test subjects in Area 57 and government stooges. It’s just unfortunate the good elements are often only glimpses. But if you can put up with that it’s a nice contrast to Marvel Studios’ output.