"An awful concoction of poorly written dialogue, also-ran effects and Miles Tellers poor excuse for facial hair"
Over the last decade it seems that superheroes have been preventing every global disaster cinema throws at them; except they also appear to be murdering the superhero genre as we know it. Tallying up as Hollywood’s third attempt at rebooting the comic-book foursome, it seems even a change in directors can’t save this origin story from crashing and burning on screen – quite literally. The Fantastic Four franchise tried desperately to launch itself back in 2005, and even with the pull of Jessica Alba and an abundance of corny comedy, it still didn’t get the following they were hoping for.
Now with director Josh Trank, who delivered a rather special take on super powers with 2012’s Chronicle, it has taken a distinctively grittier stance, although the new tone has failed to fully deliver in the way that The Dark Knight did for Batman or how Netflix’s Daredevil did for him.
The dark and gloomy palette works to a certain degree but when trying to mix the comic-book lightheartedness and comedic scope, any sort of mystery created gets washed away as quickly as it comes on screen. In terms of back story, Trank successfully gives us an insight into how our quad turns into fantastic beings. Delving into lead characters Reed and Ben’s pasts sets us up for what will inevitably come, only to be thrown completely off-base by the narrative getting stuck between actual story-telling and accelerating it at lightning speed. As the first half of the film simmers, allowing the actors to show us an ounce of talent, in what is an otherwise drab and blatant script; the pace within the final throws well and truly catches up with them, resulting in the resolution being executed at an alarming rate.
The main issue is that this film never truly gives us the comic book story we and indeed the actors residing in this project hope for. Whiplash star Teller has his moments as geeky Reed, Kate Mara illustrates how long she can hold her breath for; whilst poor Jamie Bell is on screen all of 5 minutes before turning into a pile of rocks, not to mention the horrendous cartoonish face given to Michael B. Jordan when a flame as Johnny Storm. With such one-dimensional, needless-to-say flat characters, Toby Kebbell as Dr. Doom also draws the short straw as his curiosity gets the better of him on Planet Zero turning him into a plastic-faced, glowing monster.
One finds it hard to fight back laughter as CGI subtracts from the action at hand and all the while we are given patronising lines just in case we weren’t sure what was going on. Whilst it did make me chuckle for a split second, thanks to the sheer awfulness of it all, Fantastic Four is neither witty, nor clever.
The film’s one saving grace is that this isn’t the action disaster film people expect it to be. It does takes it’s time to explore the characters and storyline, yet this unbearably slow pace leaves space for frequent seat shuffling. Given the immersive first hour, it seems even Trank’s direction and strong talent couldn’t bring this one to life. An awful concoction of poorly written dialogue, also-ran effects, and Miles Teller’s poor excuse for facial hair.