Fantastic Four (12A)

Directed by Josh Trank
Starring Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E Cathey

I've not been to see a film with such a terrible buzz around it in a while. I'll be honest, I needed to see this film to get a Summer Blockbuster special offer (free tickets/snacks) from my local cinema, otherwise I might have given it a miss. There is superhero fatigue for one thing. Yes, Marvel manage to keep the genre sparky and fun most of the time, but the X Men films and the recent Spider-Man films have been a bit of a chore.

It doesn't seem that long ago that we had Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis and Chris Evans fail to set the screen alight with a competent but very dull pair of films. This time the cast are younger - yes, it's that unoriginal idea 'The Origin Story'. *sigh*

In an unnecessarily long opening sequence we see Reed Ricards and Ben Grimm meeting as kids, when Reed tries to build a teleporter. Skip forwards a few years and they are recruited by Professor Storm to assist his daughter Sue and maverick student Victor Von Doom to build a transport device to visit a different dimension. The lads decide to be the first to make the trip once the device is finished - but leave sweet little Sue at home. Unfortunately, the trip goes wrong, Victor is lost and the other three end up with weird powers. Sue has reached the lab at this point and gets hit with a blast too. Stretchy man Reed escapes but the others become government guinea pigs. Time to revisit the alternate dimension - but an old friend is waiting for them...

This film is not quite a bad as I thought it might be from the bad press. The problem is it has no humour and not much real excitement. The end battle is predictably crash bang but amazingly naff. Sue's floating bubbles look really stupid. The stretchy arms SFX is barely better than a cartoon and Jamie Bell's Thing is...well, just a lump of rock! The pacing of the film is all wrong as we spend far too long with the build up to the kids getting their powers but hardly any decent USE of their superpowers. One nice gun battle with Miles Teller bending his way round bullets, but that is about it. Poor Kate Mara is mis-used about the worst, the script making her a very boring character - yet of course the young men must fall for her as she is the traditional comic-book token girl. Mara looks half asleep most of the time and barely cracks a smile. Miles Teller shows even he has him limitations. I've never been a big Jamie Bell fan. To me he's always been a one trick pony - a career made from one great role as a kid - Billy Eliot - and never been particularly good in anything else. Here he is barely onscreen as himself although if he is inside the motion capture suit for Ben I guess it gave him a job!

If there is one good thing to come out of the huge flop of this film, will it be for Hollywood to PLEASE try to see beyond comic books and action. There is a line of thought that the more creative and interesting work is being done on TV these days, and when you compare films like this uninspiring, turgid mess to Orange is the New Black, Transparent or Sens8 on Netflix and Amazon or Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones or even the much more interesting TV superhero shows like Arrow, The Flash, Agent Carter or Daredevil on Netflix, it is hard to see the relevance of Hollywood films like this if you are not a straight, young, white male.
Uninspired and uneven. Please don't bother with the sequel. PLEASE!

August 2015

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