Review – Fantastic Four

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Stars: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell
Director: Josh Trank
Certificate: 12A (one scene involving exploding heads)
Running Time: 100 mins
Release Date: 6th August 2015

I’ll cut straight to the chase on this one – Fantastic Four is not a very good film. More than that, it is a not very good film which has the word “fantastic” in it’s title, thus automatically subjecting itself to a tired series of one-line “not very fantastic at all!!!!” reviews. I could oh so easily leave it at that, but hey, there are crowds to stand out from

Standing out from the crowd is something that Fantastic Four seems determined to do – necessary, in a world where the average human will watch a new superhero film more times in the next three years than they partake in any form of meaningful human interaction – but goes about it all the wrong way. Everything that it does is laser focused on being more “dark” and “edgy” than your average piece of technicolour MCU entertainment – from the disturbing new context of the phrase “it’s clobbering time” to the actual, literal darkness of the colour palette – but in doing so, they forgot to make any aspect of it even remotely entertaining

Miles Teller plays Richard Reed, a prodigious young scientist who cracks the secret to interdimensional travel while tinkering in his garage. Recruited by a faceless military interest, he builds a working vessel which can catapult himself, talented mechanic Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), genius scientist/obvious bad guy Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell) and childhood friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell). The interdimensional travel is safe but the other dimension isn’t, and a confrontation with some angry green slime leaves Doom stranded and our heroes, plus Sue Storm (Kate Mara), sporting an array of new superpowers. Travelling back to the other dimension in search of a cure, they learn the power of teamwork and defeat Doom, who has been twisted to the way of evil. And that is it, literally everything that happens in a 100-minute movie. The acquisition of superpowers occurs at around the 45-minute mark after an incredibly slow buildup, and our heroes are called upon to use those superpowers to any meaningful effect precisely once

It could be argued that the whole point of the film is franchise setup, and it’s true, maybe a sequel is where we would finally get some payoff after sitting through the exposition, tortured childhoods and training montages that make up 75% of Fantastic Four‘s running time. But sequels only happen if you make sure that the first in a series doesn’t fail quite so hard as Fantastic Four does. What’s more, the characters that such time is taken establishing aren’t even that appealing – Reed is an antisocial, friend-abandoning dick, Johnny is a hotheaded stereotype, Grimm had roughly as much business undertaking interdimensional travel as Steve Buscemi did landing on an asteroid in Armageddon, and Sue barely has any defining character traits at all beyond a fondness for 90s indie music

Victor von Doom is a similarly hopeless antagonist. For one thing, having a name like Victor von Doom marks him out as the bad guy from the second he’s introduced – even viewers with no familiarity with the comics probably have enough of a basic comprehension of the English language to figure that one out. His supervillain appearance looks like a cheap Halloween costume; like someone wanted to dress as Shodan from System Shock 2 and did their best by spraying some luminous green paint onto a mannequin. It’s not the only weirdly cheap-looking aspect of a $120m movie – Sue Storm’s flying motion is weirdly stilted, the 7-foot rock monster that is the Thing walks with all the impact and heft of a 5′ 7″ actor in a green leotard, and the supposedly baffling, new alternate dimension they all travel to is a straightforward cross between the Mojave desert through an Instagram filter and something out of the original series of Star Trek

It’s difficult to come up with anything positive to say about Fantastic Four. I can’t recall a single smart line of dialogue, spectacular action shot or worthwhile character. It moves so slowly that there’s barely anything in the 100-minute running time, and what’s there is pretty much uniformly not worth the price of admission

Wait, there was one thing – they test the interdimensional travel machine by sending a chimp through first. Give the chimp some superpowers and his own spinoff movie, and all is forgiven. So, only a waste of 98 minutes of your life

Our Verdict: 3/10


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