Director: Josh Trank
Starring: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell
Release Date: 6th August, 2015
Ever since it was first announced, Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot was met with widespread internet criticism and vitriol. An understandable reaction, to a point, given the fairly lacklustre (to say the least) nature of the previous two movies and the initial information about the reboot suggesting a distinct departure from its comic book source. So, after managing to catch an advance showing of the movie at my local Cineworld, there’s only one question that really needs to be answered… is the hate justified?
Well… yes and no.
Firstly, your enjoyment of this movie is going to hinge significantly on what your personal criteria is for a successful comicbook movie. Are you one of those people who need things to be as faithful to the comics as possible? Familiar costumes? The same backstory you read all those years ago? If that’s the case, then no, you’re not going to dig this. At all. This is very much a reimagining of Marvel’s Fantastic Four, albeit one with some pretty damn impressive performances from its leads.
Starting with a pleasingly Explorers-esque flashback, the opening portion of the movie does a truly admirable job of building up the five main characters (the Fantastic ones and Toby Kebbell’s Victor von Doom). The leads are likeable, possessing recognisable character traits from the comicbooks, and the balance between fuzzy sci-fi adventure and light-hearted humour is absolutely spot-on. I actually allowed myself a smug little smile. In your face, internet! Trank proved you all wrong!
And then, somewhere along the line, the wheels fell off.
Midway through the movie, it lurches dramatically into something entirely different, with all the previous characterisation and build-up being discarded in favour of… well… something else. No spoilers, remember, but… yeah. I wasn’t ready to write it off completely, though. Okay, so we’re trying something different, I thought. They clearly ‘get’ the characters, so they’ll manage to right the ship before the end, right?
And then, the final act happened. Or rather, didn’t happen.
I’m not actually sure what went wrong with Doom. Yes, the character bore little relation to the maniacal comic book namesake, but his introduction (as well as the groundwork laid by Kebbell early on) actually had me rather excited. Unfortunately however, the “showdown” was over pretty much before it began, leaving me open-mouthed, wondering what the hell just happened and when the real battle was coming. In the end, he almost seemed like an afterthought – a name added to the script out of fan service, but who served as little more than a muddled plot device to allow us to finally see our four heroes together.
Overall, as a comicbook movie, I’m not willing to write Fantastic Four off simply because it deviates from the source material. Comics are all about different interpretations, after all; difference creative teams putting their own mark on established characters, shifting them in subtle ways to tell their own version of the story. Sadly however, the pacing issues and non-existent third act are far less forgivable.
While Fox have undoubtedly done an admirable job of establishing the team with some brilliant-if-unconventional casting and a wise choice of tone, this ultimately feels like half a movie. A missed opportunity for us to really connect with the characters, and – as such – a fantastic (pun intended) build-up ends with a disappointing CGI whimper.
Rating: 4/5 for the first half, 1/5 for the second. Let’s split the difference and call it a 3.