It’s only been eight years since Tim Story’s abysmal Fantastic Four films looked to have killed the franchise forever. Yet, with the recent success of their X-Men franchise, 20th Century Fox have decided to have another go at the popular Marvel property.
The amount of talent involved in this moody re-telling of the Fantastic Four’s origins, looks promising on paper. With Josh Trank at the helm – the director of found footage superhero-flick Chronicle, who was recently ‘let go’ from directing duties on a Star Wars film – and a cast of up-and-coming young stars in the lead roles, this Fantastic Four could have been something great – and for a while it actually shows signs of potential.
Essentially a film of two halves, it’s the opening hour that is the most interesting. Whilst undeniably slow and long winded, seeing how the team get together is made enjoyable through the chemistry of the performers.
Miles Teller, of Whiplash fame, plays Reed Richards; a young and brilliant genius who invents the key to interdimensional travel in his garage. Approached to work at the Baxter Building, he joins forces with three likeminded scientists – Sue and Johnny Storm, as well as Victor Von Doom who, as his name suggests, may be a little evil – to build the first machine to travel between dimensions.
Yes, we’ve seen all of this before to some extent, but in Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell and Toby Kebbell, you have likeable performances which make the usual monotony of an origin story bearable.
The problem with Fantastic Four is that as soon as we get to the point where the team develop their powers, any kind of sense, reason and character development flies out of the window.
Just as things begin to get interesting, it’s as if somebody pulls the plug on the story and a title card appears reading ‘One Year Later’. Suddenly our heroes are up and about, flying around in a stream of fire or a blue bubble-like force field as if it’s totally normal.
Whilst seeing these young adults come to terms with their powers should have been at the centre of the movie, it seems that this year in their lives was left on the cutting room floor, in favour of a dreadful third act.
Things start to go downhill fast and the finale is rushed to the point where it’s nonsensical. You get the distinct impression that the writing team spent so much time building up the beginning that they forgot to think about their ending, or any kind of conflict and tension.
When Dr. Doom finally shows up for the last ten minutes of the film – in a rather fetching cloak number – he doesn’t do an awful lot , and despite being the only real action sequence in the film, the final ‘battle’ is easily the most lacklustre and boring summer blockbuster set piece that I’ve seen in years.
Despite starting out so well, Fantastic Four is a confused mess by the end credits, and everybody involved quite clearly knows it. The cast look embarrassed by the dialogue that they have to spew out in the final moments, and it feels distinctly like they, as well as their director, have just given up.
I can’t help but think that had the absurdity of its concept been acknowledged in the same way recent superhero films like Ant-Man and Guardians of The Galaxy, then Fantastic Four could have been something different and fun.
As it stands though, regardless of the great cast, this feels like the final nail in the coffin of a seemingly doomed franchise.
Image credit to http://www.fantasticfourmovie.com