You can get everything that's wrong with this one in one line of dialogue. As that ever-lovin' man-mountain Benjamin J. Grimm rushes off to pound Doctor Doom, he mutters, "This is what I do." He's resigned to it, not amped or proud. It's hard not to imagine the filmmakers, too, saying that, with a shrug, as these scenes play back: "This is what we do."
Later, after a pep talk from Miles Teller's Cusackian Reed Richards, Grimm -- i.e., the Thing -- finally speaks the words that some contract probably insists he must: "It's clobberin' time." Did a grown-up ever make you say something nice about a sibling you've been fighting with? That's how this Thing says "It's clobberin' time."
The model here isn't the adventure pulp of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee's Fantastic Four comics. It's dystopian Y.A., junked up with scenes of medical horror too scary for kids and too unpleasant to be enjoyed by anyone. The most reliable pleasure of superhero origin stories is the dream-along discovery of what their bodies suddenly can do. Richards gets the Plastic Man stretching powers, which here are a curse: Here's Teller, shirtless and sweaty, strapped down in a crucified-Christ pose, his arms and legs three times the length of a normal man's. Teller keeps his eyes closed as he cries, again and again, "Where are my friends?" The scene looks like some Elm Street nightmare, the moment just before Freddy yanks those limbs right off.
Kirby and Stan Lee's Fantastic Four seized its medium, showing how rich and inventive and emotionally engaging comics could be. This adaptation shows only that its medium can get more grimdumb still.