New direction, same old story
Fantastic Four (12A) Following in the footsteps of SpiderMan, Batman and Superman, it’s now time for Marvel’s “first family” to undergo the reboot treatment.
Only eight years have passed since the critically-panned Rise of the Silver Surfer ended the previous attempt at starting a Fantastic Four franchise after just two films.
Optimism for this resurrection started well when Josh Trank – fresh from excellent found-footage superhero flick Chronicle – was announced as director with promises of improvements and a new direction.
As time passed, though, controversy rose among fans of the comic book over some of the casting decisions and talk of a troubled production rumbled on when no trailers surfaced until a few months before its release date amid rumours Fox Studios had ordered re-shoots after a fall-out with Trank.
Sadly, that disharmony plays out on screen as despite every effort to make this the complete antithesis of the earlier Four movies – led by DayGlo colours turned down to muted blues and greys – the quality remains about the same.
Trank contributed to the story, along with Simon Kinberg (Sherlock Holmes) and debut scribe Jeremy Slater, and while striking a more serious tone than that set by Tim Story’s cheesy adventures was understandable, the trio suck all of the life – and fun – out of things.
The build-up, involving the introduction of soon-to-be-heroic quartet Reed Richards (Miles Teller), Johnny Storm (Michael B Jordan), Sue Storm (Kate Mara) and Jamie Bell (Ben Grimm) and reluctant cohort Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), is engaging enough early on but the preparation for their interdimensional travel drags on far too long.
It’s nearly an hour before the not-so-Fantastic Four get their powers and, rather than getting to cut loose, the gang are neutered and used as “tools” for the lazily-drawn evil US military.
During pre-release interviews, Trank claimed he was inspired by David Cronenberg-style body horror for the characters’ transformations and he achieves his aim by showing the realistic fears four young adults would feel when going through such a traumatic change.
The cast do their best with what they’ve got too. Teller struggles with the late heroics but he, Jordan and Mara are all very likeable. Kebbell brings decent menace, and his futuristic
Young heroes (L-R) Teller, Mara and Bell prepare for action