Film review: It’s interesting but hardly Fantastic

"What is tragic though is that all the great foundation-laying is given no meaningful payoff"

"What is tragic though is that all the great foundation-laying is given no meaningful payoff"

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Matt Adcock reviews the latest Marvel superhero film Fantastic Four.

Hotshot young director Josh ‘Chronicle’ Trank takes on the oddity of Marvel’s ‘other’ mutant superhero group – and delivers a darker, mostly enjoyable origins tale which is a far cry from Tim Story’s lightweight comic book fluff version of 10 years ago.

There’s not much love to be found for this revamp of the Fantastic Four out there – in fact there has been a palpable negative vibe from most media outlets and internet opinion spinners throughout the whole production, but there is definitely something worth checking out here for sci-fi fans.

This is the tale of Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), two schoolmates who work together to create a working backyard matter-transferring prototype – i.e. a teleportation device.

Snapped up to work for Professor Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) at the high tech Baxter Foundation, they meet the clever cutie Sue Storm (Kate Mara), her adoptive street racing brother Johnny Storm (Michael B Jordan) and the awkwardly named Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell).

Oddly for a superhero flick, the highlights on offer here are mostly to be found in the first 45 minutes before any powers are evident. The build-up to how these young people’s lives will be devastated by a trip to another dimension and the body-changing fallout that creates ‘Mr Fantastic’, ‘The Human Torch’, ‘Invisible Woman’, ‘The Thing’ and ‘Dr Doom’ demonstrates Trank’s ability as a director.

The cast are great but there are at least some cinematically, erm, “fantastic” shots and glimpses of what could have been incredible when the super action kicks off. What is tragic though is that all the great foundation-laying is given no meaningful payoff with an unsatisfyingly glib, blink-and-you-miss-it climax.

Dr Doom is an overpowered baddie who deserves a film with a higher age certificate in which to really let rip. As it is, his head-exploding evil exploits are liable to disturb younger viewers – as will the freakish transformations of the good-looking leads into their stretchy, stony and fiery alter egos.

Only Mara keeps her base humanity with her more standard invisibility/force field power.

So not as fantastic as hoped, but interesting.

* Do you agree? Tweet Matt Adcock @Cleric20