Fantastic Four – Review
by John Seedhouse
If ever there was a film that was going to be doomed by circumstance, then the 2015 attempt at taking Marvel Comics’ first family back onto the big screen is it. Fantastic Four has had a rather troubled birth; a cancelled comic, the cast not seeing the finished film, an embargo on pre-release reviews have led to months of nail-biting from the Marvel zombie hordes and, one would imagine, the paymasters at Twentieth Century Fox.
What did the trailer promise?
Summer means blockbuster and as Marvel products go, Fantastic Four should be right on the top of the heap. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s statement of intent from November 1961 is the genesis of a genre. What have Disney put against it? Ant-Man? A B-grade Ant-Man from the 1970s replacement circus at that. This should be a no brainer…
Wait a minute, John. 1961?
Yes, well… and therein lies a smidge of a problem. What worked in 1961 doesn’t work so much today. Even Marvel had another crack at the Fantastic Four with the Ultimate Universe. Out was crazy space flight and cosmic ray bombardment and in was centrifuges and inter-dimensional mcguffinery. Script-writers Kinberg and Slater have chosen to mine this later version and that was probably a good idea.
It’s hard to tell where the wheel falls off with Fantastic Four. There are some good component parts. There is a ready to consume fanbase and the writers have remembered to include 4 people plus the obligatory evil dude – Dr Doom.
So far, so menacing. Toby Kebbell is a decent actor. He was good in Black Mirror and he is a Yorkshireman so that’s okay. He gets half a film of playing a grumpy malcontent and his character development consists of playing the final reel without a mouth. I honestly feel sorry for him on both counts…
He isn’t the only one here who gets short changed. Kate Mara and Jamie Bell are both decent actors and yet neither get much to get to grips with here. Mara seems genuinely as if she is trying to sink into the shadows of the horribly gloomy set.
It isn’t great then?
I honestly didn’t go into this wanting to be negative about the Fantastic Four and for the first 35 minutes the set up is actually a decent sci-fi movie. If it wasn’t that they had to shoehorn in 4 people with incredible powers and an underdeveloped super-villain (not really a super-villain but more of a pissed off ex-work colleague…), then this had the making of a decent ethic questioning piece.
As a director, I am really not convinced that Trank has the spark needed for Fantastic Four. Alarm bells rang for me when Johnny Storm leaves the hospital and it is the Josh Trank Memorial Hospital that he is leaving. I would say that is pretty prophetic about the director’s career from this one. Maybe he isn’t bad at his craft but I think that the pressure here has seriously been too much. He either tanked or (if you read the comments strands of sci-fi pages) was sabotaged due to what seems to be a fairly toxic Fox/Marvel/Disney relationship. By the time the movie hits the third reel it has all become rather messy with an undue haste to clear up the narrative and bin off the baddie so that we can have the obligatory set up for the sequel.
The Music… the damn music…
Film music can be iconic. I often walk around humming a certain piece from Star Wars. Music is an essential part of the narrative structure. What Fantastic Four suffers from (and suffers badly) is the constant sound-tracking of every damn thing that happens. By the (anti)climactic other dimensional denouement, it has gone to a level of obtrusive annoyance. Big cinema music cannot make up for a woeful lack of consideration in other areas and at it really feels as if it is being used as polish on the proverbial…
You said gloomy?
The Fantastic Four was always about big crazy machines with Kirby-esque madness. It was bright colours. This isn’t. It feels as if the colour-toning was heavily affected by the leaden dialogue. There is some acid fried snot green in the alien dimension and some shimmery orbs but that is about it. The inter-dimensional craft looks like a deepsea diving pod with a few too many coats of Naval gray paint. At a time when Marvel/Disney are nailing 3D and big, bright and bolshy, Fantastic Four feels like a fish tank that is in desperate need of a clean.
Just because you didn’t like it…
True, I wasn’t impressed – despite really wanting to enjoy it, but I suppose you might enjoy it. I fear that Marvel Zombies will bitch about it and the casual blockbuster viewer will be spending their tenner on Ant-Man or Mission Impossible. If you are a fan of missed sci-fi opportunities and swift plot resolutions then this is right up your alley. No Stan Lee and No post-credit bit either…
Fantastic Four – review – the final word.
I bought a Cineworld Unlimited card. It means that I plan to use it to the max over the next 12 months so I can write this trip off. Personally, I wouldn’t pay for Fantastic Four as it doesn’t go anywhere interesting. It is a poor movie – hindered by bad dialogue, lack of character exposition and a frankly miserable colour palette. I think the director was out of his depth and the franchise was probably cursed by the obvious lack of support of Marvel with their cancellation of the comic line.
More a Four alarm warning that a Fantastic Four alarm fire…
John usually likes super-hero movies. He is a secret fan of The Thing. All in all? Whatta revoltin’ development!
Mrs L would like to point out that she feels sorry for the actors and everyone involved as they were probably trying to do a good job on Fantastic Four.
If you want to get hold of a CineWorld Ultimate Card then there is an affiliate link which should get you 13 months not 12 – Hit me up on twitter.