Review: Fantastic Four

FF logo adjStarring Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Michael B. Jordan, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey

Directed by Josh Trank

Fox, out now

The lives of four young scientists (and one garage mechanic) are changed forever when a teleportation experiment goes dreadfully wrong…

Having not been overly impressed by the first trailer (but more inspired by the second) and after seeing numerous pieces about the production – including Josh Trank’s infamous now-deleted tweet about how a year ago he had a great movie, but we’d never get to see it – my hopes really weren’t high going into this latest reboot of the FF’s adventures. Or rather, what feels like two completely different movies spliced together – the first a brooding look at the creation of a superhero team, and the different ways in which they cope with their new powers; the second catching up with them some years down the line when they’ve reconciled their differences, have honed their powers considerably and can deal with the menace of a former friend without any major (or lengthy) problems… And the trouble is, the splice comes halfway through the third act, when Doom has returned to cause havoc, and the events are supposed to be consecutive.

The behind the scenes difficulties will fade into insignificance over the years (does anyone really remember all the fighting that went on over Universal’s second Hulk movie, apart from Edward Norton and Louis Letterier?), but they have left us with a really schizophrenic movie, where characterisation is initially built, but then abandoned. We have a team who hardly talk to each other outside of work – there are hints at a Doom/Sue failed romance, and of Reed’s interest in her, but no more than that, while Reed’s great buddy Ben is hardly mentioned between dropping Reed off at the Baxter Building and the day of the experiment – and scenes where it seems as if the director has told the very capable actors simply not to bother (Reg E. Cathey’s scenes as Johnny and Susan’s father suffer worst from these). Doom’s powers make no sense: he seems to be able to do whatever he wants, from Scanners-esque brain destruction to telekinesis to… well, pretty much anything – but then he’s brought down incredibly simply. (And don’t get me started on why he’s destroying the Earth in that way – the “shuttle” teleported between the dimensions, but suddenly there’s a link…)

The first hour or so of the movie, I really enjoyed, and there are some decent moments in it (the use of the sound effects for The Thing’s movements, for example) but then so much goes wrong that you also remember the less effective moments from the first part (CG that would have disgraced a TV movie from a decade ago, for example).

Maybe one day we’ll get to see Josh Trank’s version. Stranger things have happened. But for the moment, this joins the ranks of the lesser Marvel movies.

Verdict: A severely wasted opportunity that discards characterization for a meagre punch-up for its finale. 5/10

Paul Simpson

 

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