The Fantastic Four reboot has been talked about ever since it’s been announced, from the race-change of Johnny Storm to the chosen director Josh Trank (who has relinquished responsibility for the film a day before its release) – let’s face it, this was Dr Doomed from the start.
Despite the backlash, “Fant4stic” had every opportunity to silence the haters and deliver a sleeper hit of the season just as summer came to close. But sadly that wasn’t the case.
Directed by Chronicle’s Trank and written by X-Men: Days of Future Past’s Simon Kinberg, the movie begins with Reed Richards (Miles Teller), an unappreciated, nerdy genius who dreams of cracking teleportation with the help of best friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell). He gets the chance to join the big leagues when he is approached by scientist Dr Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) to work on an interdimensional teleporter created by troubled protégé Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell). Along with the help of Storm’s children, Sue (Kate Mara) and Johnny (Michael B. Jordan), the team of talented 20 something’s experience a lot more than they bargained for when the experiment goes terribly wrong.
The first 45 minutes is an intriguing origin story that finely establishes the main characters and their motives. Teller sheds his fast-talking, confident history of characters to fully embody Reed Richards as a brilliant but shy prodigy and the relationship with Bell’s Ben Grimm is one of the definitive highlights in the beginning, it’s just a shame that a talent like Bell really doesn’t have much to do pre-transformation.
One of the biggest controversies that made internet headlines was the casting of Fruitvale Station’s Michael B. Jordan, due to the character being white in the comicbooks. But I can safely tell you that the world has not ended due to the race change. Johnny in this incarnation doesn’t have the charm of Chris Evans or the wit and humour, in-fact he is basically a privileged bad boy who intensely pouts because he can’t get his own way. What is refreshing is the lack of how Mara’s Sue Storm being adopted isn’t played up to be a big deal, apart from the added hint of resentment from Johnny’s side that adds an interesting potential dynamic.
Despite a strong start with the first act, everything onwards is a convoluted sloppy mess that seems to have no clear direction at all. The potential that has been built up until they are subjected to the other-wordly radiation is never fulfilled, even with glimmers of hope – as with the interesting body horror scenes of Reed and Ben going through their metamorphosis – but even these are skimmed over while unfortunately we don’t even get to see the Storm siblings’ reaction to their newfound abilities.
Sadly this standard continues up until the end thanks to poor editing choices and dialogue that is cringeworthy, even for a superhero blockbuster but aside from this, the worst part of all is the terrible wig Mara is forced to wear during the clear reshoots – with her blonde locks shifting colour, texture and density several times, even in the same scene.
There are simply no thrilling action beats to be found here, it sucks the fun out of the fantastic, even when we come face to face with Doctor Doom himself, who feels like a misplaced character from an over-the-top Japanese alien horror film. The emergence of this dumbed down and unmotivated super villain directly segues into a rushed third act, with a blatant lack of care in both direction and execution.
Fantastic Four isn’t as awful as everybody is making out, there are plenty of great seeds planted that never come to fruition and therefore it’s just a disappointment. This, combined with a poor second half and stalled character development ends up hindering the whole viewing experience.
Fantastic Four is out NOW Directed by Josh Trank Written by Simon Kinberg, Jeremy Slater and Josh Trank Starring: Miles Teller as Reed Richards / Mr Fantastic Kate Mara as Susan "Sue" Storm / The Invisible Woman Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm / The Human Torch Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm / The Thing Toby Kebbell as Victor Von Doom / Doctor Doom Reg E. Cathey as Dr. Franklin Storm Tim Blake Nelson as Dr. Allen