Review: Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four
3 10

PLOT: A lab experiment gone awry leaves Reed Richards (Miles Teller), Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell),  Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) & Sue (Kate Mara) Storm with amazing powers that they must use to defeat a fifth member of their team, Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) who wants to use his power to end life on earth.

REVIEW: Who would have thought FANTASTIC FOUR would be such a tough property for Hollywood to figure out? After a zero-budget Roger Corman film (that sits unreleased) and two poorly received big-screen outings, Fox hit the reset button with director Josh Trank (CHRONICLE) and writer-producer Simon Kinberg. Despite a big budget and a hip young cast, something clearly went awry in the plotting of this new franchise as we’ve been left with a movie so generic that it feels like a leftover from the ELEKTRA/GHOST RIDER era of comic book movies. Worst of all, it’s barely an improvement over the last two big-screen outings for the foursome and barring a strong turnout from devoted fans, this saga is D.O.A.

So what went wrong? It’s easy to point fingers given the bad press director Josh Trank has been on the receiving end of, but it’s tough to lay the blame squarely at his feet. Movies like this are made by committee and none of the decisions seem to have come-off particularly well. Adopting a more grounded approach than the 2005 film, of the roughly ninety minute running time (100 with credits) a full-two thirds are devoted to the team’s origin. Reed and Ben are portrayed as kids, barely out of high-school, but that aspect isn’t really used in an interesting way as once they (or rather Reed) go to work for Reg E. Cathey’s Franklin Storm the differences from the first film are negligible – for a while anyway.

Considering the budget, the production seems threadbare, with dull sets and CGI that’s pretty outdated and hardly any better than what Fox put into the saga a decade ago. Sure, the design of The Thing is a little more streamlined (no shorts) but the CGI- motion capture is hardly comparable to what the same studio has managed with the APES series.

Still, CGI is mere window dressing. There are other – far worse – things wrong with this movie. What’s really damning is how dull it is. There’s no action at all until the last twenty minutes, and even then it’s pretty run-of-the-mill. The movie simply treads water, with none of the heart or ambition Trank brought to CHRONICLE.

Considering the names above the title, you’d think the cast would be the saving grace. Sadly, nobody fares especially well here. While you can hardly blame them considering the material, not one of them shows any kind of star quality or personality – a shock given how good all of them normally are. Miles Teller gets to joke around a little at the beginning, showing off a bit of charm but there’s none of the intensity here he brought to WHIPLASH or THE SPECTACULAR NOW. For the most part he’s simply reacting to special fx and even his relationship with Grimm, which the writers are trying to make heartfelt, comes off as forced.

The same goes for the usually intense Michael B. Jordan, who’s slotted into action hero mode as the rebellious Johnny, who’d rather be racing cars than working in a lab. They could have done something interesting with the fact that he’s the one team member who seems thrilled by his new powers, but he’s not given enough screen time or any meaty scenes with Cathey, who’s the only one who really manages to give the movie any sense of gravitas. Jamie Bell, who’s usually a pretty thrilling actor to watch, is so low-key as Grimm/The Thing that he barely registers, and there’s very little sense of pathos about his predicament. Poor Kate Mara fares especially bad, with Sue being so severely under-cooked as a character that one can honestly say Jessica Alba had more to work with in the Tim Story films. Oh well, at least Toby Kebbell comes off better than Julian McMahon did as Doom, but even still he’s not given any chance to establish any kind of malice. He’s a non-entity until the filmmakers decide to finally give the film a little action, and even then he’s little more than an excuse for the (not-so) Fantastic Four to try out their new powers.

It’s really puzzling how badly awry this reboot has gone as the finished product is neither bad enough to be ironically entertaining, nor is it halfway decent enough for us to wonder what could be done with the franchise if the material/direction was better. Rather, this is like a generic TV pilot for a show you wouldn’t want to watch. Maybe this is a franchise that would have been better off left un-exhumed.

Source: JoBlo.com



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