Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Fantastic Four: Film Review

Fantastic Four: Film Review

Cast: Miles Teller, Michael B Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbel, Reg E Kathey
Director: Josh Trank

It's back to the origins tale for the new reboot of the Fantastic Four series, with the director of the wonderful Chronicle at the helm.

But it's sad to say that based on the early evidence of the reboot of the franchise (last seen in 2005), it may be less of a Fantastic start than perhaps 20th Century Fox were hoping for.

For those unaware of the Stan Lee comic and the series, it's the story of child prodigy Reed Richards (Whiplash star Miles Teller) who has spent his childhood dreaming of teleporting to another world. One day at a science fair, with his lifelong pal Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), their science project catches the eye of Dr Franklin Storm.

Recruiting them into his scientific world, Richards helps Sue Storm (Kate Mara), and Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell) achieve their goal of teleportation to another world. Also along for the ride is hot-headed Johnny Storm (Jordan) who's been co-opted into the project by his dad.

But when the four of them discover that NASA will be taking over their project, they decide to eject protocol and teleport themselves to another world...which doesn't quite go according to plan, leaving one of their party dead and the others dealing with super-powers.

The latest re-imagining of the Fantastic Four is a pretty dour, gloomy and science- exposition heavy set up for a series that never really feels like it lifts off.

Parts of the film feel like large chunks of the narrative was sliced and diced out, leaving the first act to feel as elongated as one of Richards' extended limbs and the final act too conveniently wrapped up without the hint of any kind of real conflict. Equally the underdeveloped story sees an occasional lack of chemistry between the leads and the tantalising tension between two former best friends, which is initially mined for potential dramatic effect and potential tragedy, is ditched neatly in favour of a third act resolution.

It's a shame because there are some touches which work quite nicely for the film; Doom's rampage when he returns is up there with horror's finest moments as is the discovery of a stretch limbed Richards strapped down to a gurney. And there are moments when the characters cut through the gloom and throw a light on each other that work particularly well - like in the film's final moments as they discuss their name.

In parts the CGI works nicely too - Reed's limb-stretching as mentioned looks impressive, a mix of both painful and cartoonish; and the Thing's rocky foundations are nicely laid, giving Bell a modicum of face-work to go on; but Storm's flame on falls down a little on the facials, and Sue's floating blue ball has a few wobbles at times.

The biggest problem with Fantastic Four though is the story-telling beats, the overload of exposition and the lack of stand-out character moments in among dark and grim settings.

A sequel may already be planned and given the origins are all explored, it's to be hoped the second film can give this fantastic quartet of actors a little more to chew on, rather than looking dourly around as events unfold around them.


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