Fantastic Four Review

Remember this bad film from 2005?

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Or what about it’s even worse sequel from 2007?

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Of course you do, they both had Jessica Alba in them. But apart from that they are both forgettable as they are both utterly crap.

This new Fantastic Four film had all the potential to be much better than the last two failed attempts; a gifted up-and-coming director, an extremely talented young cast and a sci-fi savvy script writer.

So is it better than the previous Fantastic Four films? It is. But barely.

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The reboot starts off with child genius Reed Richards creating a homemade transportation machine with his newfound friend Ben Grimm. Fast forward seven years and Reed (Whiplash’s Miles Teller) along with Ben (Billy Elliot’s Jamie Bell) attend their high school science fair where Reed is recruited by Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) to join his scientific research facility to work on interdimensional travel.

Reed works alongside Franklin’s bad boy son Jonny Storm (Fruitvale Station’s Michael B. Jordan), his adopted daughter Susan Storm (House of Cards’ Kate Mara) and the arrogant Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) to successfully build an interdimensional transportation machine.

To celebrate their achievement Reed invites his best bud Ben to come with him, Jonny and Victor to sneak away on a booze-fuelled secret trip to another dimension. What they find there is a mountainous rocky planet with strange green liquid oozing from it. Things go wrong – big time – which leaves the gang fleeing from the unstable planet.

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The gang in the alternate dimension

After the shiznit hits the fan, Reed, Jonny, Ben and Sue are all transformed into super-powered beings. Reed turns into Mr Fantastic (aka the stretchy one).

Miles Teller as Reed Richards/Mr Fantastic
Miles Teller as Reed Richards/Mr Fantastic

Jonny turns into the Human Torch (aka the flying fiery one).

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Ben turns into The Thing (the strong stoney one).

Jamie Bell (in motion capture) as Ben Grimm/The Thing
Jamie Bell (in motion capture) as Ben Grimm/The Thing

And Sue turns into the Invisible Woman (the flying see through one as if you couldn’t  already tell by her name).

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Kate Mara as Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman

Up until this point, roughly midway, the film is thoroughly intriguing as the momentum built in the first half promises to set up a satisfying conclusion. Unfortunately the latter half of Fantastic Four fails to deliver as it is a messy, rushed outcome to a story with lots of potential.

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Many of the scenes in the second half feel like they are incomplete as they could have been fleshed out more to develop the story and the characters. For example when the four first discover the frightening extent of their powers in a chilling scene, the film then has a jarring time jump which shifts the narrative a year into the future. This means that you care about the gang before they get their powers but once they become Fantastic you don’t really give a monkeys about them.

The villain of the piece, Dr Doom, could also have done with more screen time as he feels like he was just thrown into the third act to give the Fantastic Four someone to trade super powered blows with. To be fair when he first appears in his villainous form, he is absolutely terrifying, but his limited presence in the film, along with some clichéd dialogue (“there is no Victor, there is only Doom”) means that one of Marvel comics’ most iconic supervillains is not given the cinematic justice he deserves.

Toby Kebell as the villainous Dr Doom
Toby Kebell as the villainous Dr Doom

Fantastic Four does provide some moments of genuine horror, like when Dr Doom goes on a one-man killing spree and the gruesome transformation of the four, as well as cool  sci-fi moments like the first interdimensional expedition and the look of the film is a big improvement from the previous two as the CGI offers mainly convincing visuals. The Thing looks particularly good as you’ll believe there is actually a Hulk-sized man made out of orange rocks.

But considering Fantastic Four is a big superhero blockbuster, there’s an absence of action which may leave some viewers feeling they’ve just watched the Fantastic Bore. Apart from the climactic battle between the FF and Dr Doom, which starts off exciting but in the ends feels like it’s over too quick, nothing really happens.

Last month’s Ant-Man had a similar shortage of superhero action but there was enough things going on in the film to make for a very entertaining experience. Fantastic Four, on the other hand, may severely underwhelm many who see it.

Given the talent involved in the making of the film: the gifted cast, the director of 2012’s impressive Chronicle and the writer of last year’s excellent X-Men: Days of Future Past Simon Kinberg, Fantastic Four is somewhat of a disappointment. Personally I respected the attempt to provide something different than the usual comic book hero spectacle but the poor execution of its unique ideas means that the film doesn’t live up to its title.

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There’s enough promise to suggest that the hoped for sequel and an X-Men crossover might be much better, but whether any of those will happen now looks doubtful. I had an OK time watching this – even though there’s no Stan Lee cameo –  but be warned, you may not. Fantastic Four (which probably should be named the Average Four) scores a:

5.5/10

Check out the trailer:

 

 

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