Since its announcement, Fantastic Four has been doomed (ha!) casting Michael B Jordan as Human Torch, taking a dark and serious approach to a fun family film and then came the re-shoots and behind the scenes drama. The publicity surrounding this film was anything but positive and cast a sour note about the film itself. Fortunately after seeing the film, and remaining optimistic, I can report confidently that this film delivers. It is at its heart an indie film with all the glitz and polish of a Marvel superhero film, yet more DC in tone (I will get to that later!)
The film revolves around Reed Richards (Miles Teller) who we follow from the age of 7, as a gifted scientist who forges a friendship with classmate Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) and invent a machine that teleports matter. When showing off the machine hilariously at a school science fair, Baxter Institute scientist Dr Franklin Storm (Reg E.Cathy) and his daughter Sue (Kate Mara) recruit Richards to help them complete their machine and transport life to another dimension in a bid to save Earth.
They are joined by Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) and joining the mission are Sue’s brother Johnny (Michael B Jordan) and when everything goes wrong, Victor is stranded on Planet Zero and the Four return with abilities that the military try to use as weapons, while building a larger machine that will allow military personnel to obtain these powers for themselves. Richards and co. must work together in an attempt to reverse the effect of the Planet Zero or embrace them as part of who they are.
When I first heard about this movie and the rights expiring at Fox, I thought this would be a cheap cash grab to retain the rights, but I am pleasantly surprised. At its heart this is an indie dramaedy that reeks of Josh Trank, combining Marvel superheroes with a DC comics like dark tone and real world feeling that suited these characters and stopped them from feeling ridiculous. Reed aka Mr Fantastic stretching abilities are shot beautifully and are only used in combat and when necessary so it never feels like it is being overused or gimmicky. The Thing looks incredible in CGI format and Bell’s grunts and dialogue is solemn and effective.
The special effects have been panned by other critics, but I found them to be appropriate for the tone of this film. They were never overblown or overused which was a surprise and hopefully this movie makes a mint so they can get a bigger budget for the sequel (currently set for 2017!) One of my favourite shots was Sue Storm transporting the four from Earth to Planet Zero through the wormhole. It was beautiful detailed and had the Age Of Ultron scale of destruction and urgency.
All the actors bring their A game here, Teller is the perfect lead and epitome of everything geeky that was needed for this character, Bell plays the bumbling best friend and then rock mutant perfectly, with a macabre take on The Thing. Jordan, in comparison to the Chris Evans version of Human Torch is more believable. Jordan plays the arrogant yet less of a douche-hat version of Johnny Storm. This translates perfectly and Jordan is the perfect fit for this character, and pulls off the CGI flame sequences as well. This is my first encounter with Kate Mara, who reminds me of a less annoying version of Anna Kendrick, she is quiet and reserved at first and then as her powers evolve her personality and confidence does, which was a nice contrast to the rest of the characters. Special mention goes out to Reg E.Cathy for playing the Nick Fury-ish role and that voice! Wow!
Overall I could write a lot more about why you should see this movie, it is in great contrast to the other Marvel superhero films and is a refreshing take on the Fantastic Four. The strong indie roots are evident and helps set the tone as grounded and real world. The actors all bring their A game here and contribute to make this more of a character driven story then effects, that being said the special effects are beautiful and work with the plot to support it rather than overbear it. Fantastic Four is the perfect reboot for these characters and this franchise and despite what all the “paid critics” say, this is definitely worth your cinema dollars.
Review by Alaisdair Dewar
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