Despite already having two films under its belt, Fantastic Four has never felt like it has been a ‘good’ superhero franchise. Now, on its third attempt in just ten years, does rebooting, reshooting and adding a younger cast make a difference to the franchises needed / deserved success? The short answer is no.
Beginning in adolescence, we meet Reed Richards (Miles Teller), a young science-prodigy, who makes a teleporting device with the aid of his tough-kid friend Ben Grimes (Jamie Bell). Discovered at a school fair by Dr. Franklin Storm – and his daughter Sue (Kate Mara) – he is offered a full scholarship and invited to finish his teleporting device at Baxter Enterprises with their resources (think NASA / Wayne Enterprises).
Teaming up with adopted brother and sister, Sue and Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), and Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell – another prodigy, but with a different outlook, work begins on the device. Experiments, computers and equations cover the screens for a while as impressed faces and science terminology goes over most of the audiences’ heads. Successfully they create the device and somehow teleport to another dimension! Like an episode of Star Trek, they explore the planet filled with rocks, energy and space-type environment, they fall into an accident that leaves them scarred with incredible powers.
For those unfamiliar with the comics; Reed gains the ability to stretch his body, Johnny has the power of fire and becomes a ‘human torch’; Sue can turn invisible and create forcefields, Ben turns into a rock-type creature and physically increases in size. Although Victor, who suffered the accident to a greater degree, becomes disfigured with excess amounts of energy and his safety suit combined– leaving him in a powerful Sith-like state with ‘death to planet Earth’ aspirations.
What follows is a rushed and utterly weightless mess. Since gaining them, Fox have not had much luck with their Marvel inherited movies. But was Fantastic Four (von) doomed to fail before it ever hit screens? Unless you have been avoiding Twitter for the past year, it would have been hard to ignore the fan engagement to the film. Casting announcements, race changes, leaked footage, costly reshoots, plus the last minute cancellation of 3D has left it feeling very much like an unfinished product. As of the week before release, not even the main cast had seen the film! Which is probably why they did not hold press screenings either in an attempt to hide its failures until very last minute.
Some of the films best scenes were in fact those with no effects and minimal action. Which is a shame considering its cast of heavyweight youngsters –probably some of their generation’s most promising talent? Their potential was wasted with uninteresting dialogue and non-charismic scripting. The entire premise feels like a 100-minute tease trailer, where it slowly builds up to nothing and then finishes with haste. It is one of Stan Lee’s forefront comics in the 60’s and the first ‘official superhero ensemble’ - yet it hasn’t had the adaption that it deserves just yet.
Technically, visually and budget wise, it is an improvement from the first attempt at it. Although that did not set the bar particularly high. Not much has changed, it is the same origin story as before, but with a CGI Thing, X-Men style suits and a silly cling-film mask for Von Doom rather than a metal, scary one. Plus even more gimmicky quotes that ever before… Not even Stan Lee wanted a cameo in this one!
Is it worth one-hundred minutes of your precious time to see yet another origin story of superheroes that you do not enjoy or particularly connect with? No. Our advice? Watch Ant-Man instead.