Cert 12a | ★★☆☆☆
Even in this superhero-obsessed age, the latest incarnation of Marvel’s The Fantastic Four represents something of a risk, given the franchises turbulent recent history. There’s the 1994 version, made to retain the movie rights and infamously shelved without ever reaching cinemas. Then there are the dreadful noughties films starring Jessica Alba and a bewildered Ioan Gruffudd.
Hopes were high for this latest version, despite rumours of problems on set. The trailers promised a darker film, with a cast comprised of four of the most promising young actors in Hollywood. In Josh Trank (2012’s Chronicle) it has a director seemingly up to the task of reinventing the brand.
No such luck: his film feels like a collection of disparate action sequences ranging from gripping to ludicrous. The climactic battle is an earth-shattering disappointment. Add to this a script chock-full of exposition, and you’re left with a turgid mess that barely betters the previous FF attempts.
Miles Teller stars as Reed Richards, a science prodigy selected for a top-secret project after stumbling upon a way to travel into another dimension. Reed, along with colleagues Sue and Johnny Storm (Kate Mara and Michael B Jordan), Victor Von Doom (Tobey Kebbell) and best friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), set off on an adventure into the unknown world, where the atmosphere grants them strange powers. With Victor presumed dead and the rest under strict government control, the foursome must find out what happened.
Teller is likeable geek, with the bristling arrogance of his Whiplash performance shed in favour of awkward grins and specs. Jordan is landed with a lazily thrown together “bad boy” character, although he largely pulls it off with a commendable show of charisma, even managing to convince us that “Flame On” is a reasonable catchphrase for a superhero. Mara is harder to warm to, seemingly angry with everyone for reasons that never become apparent, while Kebbell plays the future Doctor Doom like a spoiled goth kid, rich in resentful stares and fatalistic ideals.
It’s not quite the worst Fantastic Four outing, and it does have its moments, but they’re too few and far between to rescue the movie. Trank and co produce a depressingly mundane superhero film – a fantastic bore, if you will – that does nothing to get you excited for any future instalments.