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Fantastic Four



fantastic fourReviewer: Stu Greenfield

Released: 6th August 2015 (UK)

Director: Josh Trank

Stars: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan

During the 2015 Comi-Con event in California a (large) number of comic book adaptation films and sequels to current franchises were announced over the next few years. We are due to be swamped by a variety of super heroes with a wide variety of talents and skills. Be prepared for an excess of merchandise and a decrease in bank balance. With this influx of caped and non-caped crusaders it is inevitable that there will be some duds. And Fantastic Bore is certainly one of them.

Back in 1961 comic book legend and Marvel superhero himself Stan Lee wrote and published the first Fantastic Four comic book. The comic was a success and has continued publication into the 2000’s spawning two Hollywood films (Fantastic Four 2005, Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer 2007), TV Series and other adaptations. We now have a new re-generation film based on the origins of the superheroes and no doubt spawning yet another franchise.

Chronicle (2012) writer and director Josh Trank has taken on the challenge of rebooting Fantastic Four and you can’t help but think that maybe found footage films are where he should stay. The film chronicles how the four heroes came together in the first place starting with Reed Richard (Miles Teller) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) meeting at school and following Reed as he goes to work developing a teleportation device for moving between dimensions. It is here that he meets Susan Storm (Kate Mara), Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) and the rather appropriately named Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell). Together they become transformed due to radiation from another dimension during an ill-fated and not very well thought out joy ride on the teleportation device. On their return they all have some form of superhuman power. Doom gets left behind but is brought back following a return trip and he is not happy at all.

There have been mixed levels of anticipation for this film. The original 2005 film was met with critical disdain and the sequel in 2007 even more so. This reworking feels even weaker. The running time alone of 100 minutes gave some cause for concern given that a new set of characters are being introduced. There is a feeling of being rushed through the film, a bit like running around a zoo in twenty minutes. You glimpse the important bits but never really get involved. You begin at Reed and Ben’s childhood. Then you jump to what is either the end of high school or college, the next minute you are completing the transportation device. Once the initial mission is completed you then jump to a year later and then smack bang wallop you are in the final fight scene without really knowing how you got there.

Despite the vast majority of the film focussing on the characters and their back story, as an audience it is still difficult to connect to them as characters. There are some half-hearted attempts to show some humanity and humour but they tend to fall short. There is some giggle worthy moments but nothing on the scale of humour evident in superhero characters such as Paul Rudd’s Antman or Robert Downy Jnr’s Ironman. There is an inference of emotion between Reed and Susan, and also Doom and Susan but it is wafer thin and opaque. There is a feeling of going through the emotions but it is difficult to invest in the film. The scripting is typical and bland, which can also be said for the cinematography.

The computer generated effects in the film are less than spectacular. The New Year’s Eve fireworks on London’s South Bank have more awe. Given the level of sophistication evident in the recent Marvel films, such as the aforementioned Antman, it may have been prudent to produce a higher quality product for Fantastic Bore. In an attempt to hit straight to the point, the film is boring.

In terms of pace the film is all over the place. You spend most of the film waiting for the film to start, and then when there is some action and it does pick up the pace it lasts a couple of minutes and its gone. The final fight scene is a huge anti-climax. Audiences will find themselves looking at the final credits wondering where the rest of the film went. The film feels as if it is watered down vodka. The basic essence is there but there is no kick. When we do get a kick it feels rushed as if it was stuck on the end of the film quickly before they ran out of time.

The entire film feels underdeveloped. Despite the excess of time spent on telling the audience about each character we actually get very little insight into their individual psyche. There is little emotion or belief put into the characters which is evident on screen and the result is a 2D performance. There is absolutely no ‘wow’ factor. We can only hope that they have saved all of the aspects that would have made this film viable and are going to put them in the scheduled 2017 sequel.

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