20th Century Fox’s reboot of Fantastic Four fails to compete with other Marvel films
This week sees the release of 20th Century Fox’s reboot of the comic book franchise the Fantastic Four. As a Marvel fan, I was eager to see what director Josh Trank had in store for Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero team, particularly as it’s been rather quiet on the media front (clearly 20th Century Fox had an embargo). The result, unfortunately, is rather mixed.
For those who aren’t familiar with the storyline, Fantastic Four is an action adventure film about a superhero team. The plot follows four geeky young outsiders who create a teleporter which can transport them to an alternate universe. Desperate to make their mark on the world, the four embark on an unscheduled and dangerous mission but when an accident occurs which alters their physical form in shocking ways, the four must learn to harness their new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy named Doctor Doom. The film is the third theatrical Fantastic Four film to be distributed by 20th Century Fox following Fantastic Four in 2005 and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer in 2007.
Dark, gritty and underdeveloped, Fox’s latest stab at reviving Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s iconic comic book creation is unfortunately a little disappointing and unimaginative. It terms of overall look, plot and superhero appeal, Fantastic Four certainly doesn’t compete with other ‘Age of Marvel’ films and if anything, is a bit of an anti-climax.
Whilst most superhero movies usually overstay stay their welcome, Fantastic Four actually feels a little rushed at the end. The vast majority of the film is spent watching our superheroes build the teleporter in a lab, so when the climactic battle actually does occur, it’s a bit of a disappointment. We learn little about the villain Dr. Doom (apart from a fleeting demonstration of his powers in the lab) and when the Fantastic Four do end up facing him, the sequence is far too short, weightless and lacking in any stakes.
Yet, despite its shortfalls, Fantastic Four isn’t all bad. Visually, the look of the heroes has improved, particularly the Thing, who picks up more muscle and menace than the previous incarnation. The cast – particularly Miles Teller as Reed Richards and Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm – also excel in the scenes with little action or effects.
The remake sees Miles Teller (Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic), Michael B. Jordan (Johnny Storm/Human Torch), Kate Mara (Susan Storm/Invisible Woman) and Jamie Bell (Ben Grimm/Thing) replace the 2005 cast Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis. While we rarely get to see the new team in ‘action’, there is something endearing about the interactions between the four actors, with a clear emphasis on friendship pulling through right until the end.
Toby Kebbell’s performance as Victor von Doom (aka Doctor Doom) is also worth a mention. Again, while Kebbell doesn’t get much time on screen as the villainous Doctor Doom (surprisingly), his scenes as the angry, vengeful and bright Victor make him the most intriguing of all the characters.
The film has received has mixed reviews in the press. Brian Lowry at Variety described it as “not an embarrassment, but an experiment that didn’t gel” while Emma Dibdin at Digital Spy said that “while far from the unmitigated disaster some had predicted, Fantastic Four feels unlikely to kick-start a new franchise, barely sustaining the narrative steam to power itself through its modest 90-minute running time.” Interesting considering that 20th Century Fox are rumoured to be already working on a sequel which is scheduled to be released on 9 June 2017.
Overall, Fantastic Four fails to match up to the other Marvel films but is worth a watch even if just to satisfy your curiosity.
Fantastic Four is released in UK cinemas on 6 August 2015