After all the talk of controversial casting choices, on-set behavioural issues and apparently much needed re-shoots, Josh Trank’s hotly anticipated Fantastic Four reboot has hit UK screens. Just ten years after Tim Storey’s lacklustre origins flick, Fantastic Four (2005), Trank’s grittier take on the super foursome stars Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell in the titular roles.
Opportunity strikes for science prodigy Reed Richards (Teller) when he’s scouted for the super prestigious Baxter Institute. Reed – with the help of BFF Ben Grimm (Bell) – had been working on creating a teleporter since he was a young kid, and with the help of the Institute – including fellow geeks Sue (Mara) and Johnny Storm (Jordan), along with frenemy Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) – his ambitious vision can become a reality.
After a drunken night of frustrated chatter, the gang decide to test their new creation and end up being transported to an alternate (and rather mysterious) universe. When disaster strikes – leaving Von Doom for dead – the remainder of the crew are left with life-altering physical changes; new powers they must now put to good use to see off a surprising new threat to the world.
This isn’t your typical superhero fodder; closer to Interstellar than Iron Man, Trunk’s sci-fi-heavy version is light years away – both in style and substance – from the Marvel adaptations that have come before it.
The fun, flamboyance and crash-bang-walloping action which has dominated previous hero flicks has been eradicated for a full-blown character-driven affair (friendships, family and loyalty) which doesn’t have the conviction – nor any of the much needed charm – to allow its director’s faltering vision to pay off.
Exposition-heavy – full of science talk, long stares and other not-so-fun to watch activities – we’re lifelessly dragged through an undramatic science fiction flick towards what feels like a disastrously thrown together finale, that’s more Thunderbirds B-movie than $100m-plus Hollywood franchise hopeful.
The Chronicle helmsman’s moody 100-minute science class goes far against the Avengers-led grain. Different, highly flawed, though not totally disastrous, it carries a heavy stink of studio-led patch work on an unfortunately unsellable vision that – in a fast-paced action universe – appeared doomed to fail from the start.
A young, fresh cast – led by an always engaging Miles Teller, and workable, if not slightly cliché backstories – offer glimpses of a near-likeable idea, but this dour, although too harshly criticised, remake appears to have fallen sharply on its rocky arse.