FANT4STIC | Film Review

RELEASED: August 7th 2015
DISTRIBUTED BY: 20th Century Fox
DIRECTED BY: Josh Trank
WRITTEN BY: Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg & Josh Trank
PRODUCED BY: Simon Kinberg, Matthew Vaughn, Hutch Parker, Robert Kulzer & Gregory Goodman
MUSIC BY: Marco Beltrami & Phillip Glass
STARRING: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell, Reg E. Cathey & Tim Blake Nelson

REVIEW: Imagine, if you will, that you’re on a first date. So far, things have been fine. Your partner isn’t the most witty, attractive or charismatic, but they’re not bad either. They’re inoffensive. Not A-grade material, but there’s potential there. You’re willing to see what happens. Then, all of a sudden, your partner violently shits themselves as the date starts to wind down.

That’s what watching 2015’s Fantastic Four is like.

The film follows Reed Richards; a young man who has always dreamed of being the first person in history to teleport biological matter. His pursuit of this dream sees him inducted into the Baxter Foundation, where he is paired with likeminded scientists Susan Storm, her adoptive brother Johnny, and the standoffish Victor Von Doom. Together, alongside Reed’s childhood friend Ben, the group make a voyage into another dimension, which has shocking consequences for both them and the world.

When this film first went into production, and news started coming out about it, I tapped out almost straight away (Jamie Bell as the Thing? Do these people know who the Thing is?). The trailer didn’t do enough to reel me back in, and the subsequent critical bashing the film received justified my decision.

So when I finally got round to watching the film today, I was surprised. Instead of one of the worst films I’ve ever seen, I was presented with a Fantastic Four film that stressed the importance of science and discovery over super-heroics (and rightly so!).

The film features a strong cast, who each give good performances, and a story that, as it unfolds, really highlights how different a take this is from your usual Marvel movies. Miles Teller, Kate Mara and Michael B. Jordan all do their best to embody the roles of their comic-book counterparts, and while I remain unconvinced by Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm, it wasn’t too much of an issue (not due to his performance, I just think we was the wrong fit – also he wasn’t given a ton to do).

In fact, I’d go as far to say I liked the first half hour. There were weird little moments that highlight a questionable script, such as a science teacher dismissing a teenager TELEPORTING AN OBJECT right in front of him at a science fair, but overall, like that metaphorical date I mentioned, things were inoffensive. The world the Fantastic Four inhabited was interesting enough, and I liked the somewhat grungy sci-fi aesthetic. I could see similar themes fitting into a better reboot of the franchise. The general underpinnings of the story could work, were it not for what was soon to come.

And then the group finish building their teleporter, and the problems begin to become more evident. Strange story choices such as all the men going on a drunken trip to another dimension, while Sue (y’know, one of the four that make up said Fantastic Four) sits on the sidelines. From there, we’re presented with a film of a different tone, as the movie slips more into a body-horror sort of vibe, but doesn’t really do all that much with it, before doing a hard right turn into a more conventional (but lower tier) superhero movie.

Time-jumps and bizarre characters choices force the story along, all the while, nothing really seems to be happening.

And not that I need an overabundance of action, but there are no action sequences in the film until over an hour into the movie (the movie, as a whole, is an hour and thirty-nine minutes, just FYI), which is baffling considering the genre.

From there, the various reshoots and behind-the-scenes clashes become more evident, as actor’s wigs and facial hair change from scene to scene, the story starts to lose any cohesiveness it once had, and in the last fifteen/twenty minutes, the studio seems to realise that their story hasn’t been leading to anything, and crams in a forced, nonsensical Doctor Doom confrontation.

What was a salvageable movie quickly deteriorates into a incomprehensible mess, where character motivations aren’t laid out, story beats get increasingly more boring, and even the visual effects start to suffer immensly. Reed’s stretching powers always look bad.

It’s clear that many of the people working on this movie wanted it to be different things, and as a result, the final product ends up being a jarbled mess in the back half.

So, all-in-all, I give Fant4stic:

Thanks for reading! What did you think of Fant4stic? What do you want to see Marvel Studios do with the property? Let me know in the comments below!

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