Here Are Some of the Roughest Critiques of Fantastic Four

4 minute read

The reviews for the new Fantastic Four reboot are so bad, the movie’s own director, Josh Trank, has tried to distance himself from the final product, blaming its low quality on the studio. With a star-studded cast (Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell) and a director whose previous work (Chronicle) was so promising, what went wrong? Here’s what some of the movie’s toughest critics have to say.

I’ll just go ahead and reboot my 2005 review of the first Fantastic Four origin story, which I said was ‘fantastic only in its commitment to mediocrity.’ That’s still true, though a decade later it’s true in different ways. Are you offended that I’m recycling material? Sorry, but I’m as susceptible to the influence of movies as anyone else …

The human drama is meager. Once again, the only real pathos belongs to Mr. Bell’s Ben, who finds himself trapped in a stony new body and weaponized by a ruthless government. Mr. Teller stretches, not as an actor but as a digitally enhanced body. Mr. Jordan burns in the same way, and Ms. Mara disappears. Her character also has the power to make other things vanish. I would say she should have exercised it on this movie, but in a week or two that should take care of itself.

-A.O. Scott, New York Times

The latest reboot of the Fantastic Four — the cinematic equivalent of malware — is worse than worthless. It not only scrapes the bottom of the Marvel-movie barrel; it knocks out the floor and sucks audiences into a black hole of soul-crushing, coma-inducing dullness. And, guess what, it’s an origin story. That’s right. A gifted young cast (Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Michael B. Jordan) has been hired to freshen the plot, like an old whore trying to pass as jailbait. No go.

-Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

For a movie largely set on a planet (“Planet Zero”) coursing with living, liquid energy, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a superhero movie more in need of a lie-down. When it’s not on Planet Zero, the special effects for which are the dullest sub-Thor-looking digital schmutz a medium-sized budget can buy, Fantastic Four confines its abnormally gifted youngfolk to what appears to be an industrial park warehouse somewhere in Baton Rouge, La. This may be because Fantastic Four was filmed largely in Baton Rouge, La. …

… Lame is lame. At one point, Baxter Institute’s chairman of the board, played by Tim Blake Nelson, is seen in a control room at what is supposed to be a tense moment. The way he’s checking his cellphone, distractedly, you wonder if it’s the actor texting his agent about an unrelated matter of more dramatic interest than anything in Fantastic Four.

-Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

[A] shiny new reboot that renders the comic book superheroes’ origin story as a tale of barely post-pubescent nerds who have acquired frightening powers that, like cystic acne, they are at a loss to handle … Much of Fantastic Four consists of sullen teenagers bickering and staring at computer screens. I thought that’s what people went to the movies to get away from …

What’s most galling, especially for an action film, is that there’s precious little action here. The special effects look cheap, the acting is wooden, and the shouted dialogue consists largely of throwaway action-movie cliches (“Let’s do this”) and B-movie sci-fi jargon (“His bioenergy is off the charts!”).

-Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post

The whole movie feels like a tale being made up on the spot by a hypercaffeinated 6-year-old. Nothing makes sense, huge swaths of plot take forever to tell and characters are not true to their natures … The casting, crucial in these comic-book adaptations, is way off. Jordan, so great in Fruitvale Station, smothers all his natural charm. Teller (Whiplash) looks bored by his paycheck role.

-Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News

To quote one character—and it is perhaps instructive that, less than 24 hours after seeing the film, your writer is not sure which—the talent involved has ‘the potential and the IQ to do so much more.’

-Clark Collis, Entertainment Weekly


More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at