August 11, 2015

As far as reboots go, this superhero venture failed to amaze, with the exception of a few movie-magic moments.

With a stellar cast and a relatively new director, Josh Trank, who had previously directed the brilliant and highly underrated movie:Chronicle (2012), the Fantastic Four are back, with a millennial make-over. Anyone who has watched Chronicle would instantly recognise strains of the director’s signature style. The upside to this movie was the way Trank enabled the actors to play their roles as real, relatable, compelling people; despite the rather generic script they were handed.Fantastic Four had the ‘origin’ element down pat as we are introduced to young, pre-teen, Reed Richards and Ben Grimm as they attempt to make a self-invented teleporter work, effectively shorting out an entire neighbourhood’s power. Trank’s penchant for the ‘boys club’ is ever present as the team dynamic mostly revolves around the guys, to the point that they completely forget about Sue Storm (Kate Mara), who doesn’t even get to hop on the Power Express to planet Zero. Instead, she gets her powers after a freak explosion takes place when the guys return. The cinematography was a bit lacklustre, as far as the CGI effects go. The only scene that stands out, in terms of visual effects, was the electric blue inter-dimensional portal connecting Earth to planet Zero. Hollywood’s staple blue-beams-shooting-from-the-sky are a fixture in every other superhero flick we’ve seen in the past decade (with the exception of the Dark Knight trilogy, of course). Adding to that, the indie-realism didn’t work well with the Fantastic Four theme in terms of the build-up to the final not-so-epic battle; which had a rushed, mechanical feel to it.

When it comes to individual performances, Reg E. Cathey played Dr. Franklin Storm as the mildly exasperated father once more, reprimanding his gearhead son, Johnny Storm, designation: amateur street racer. The character arc that Sue and Johnny go through when Frank lies dying, is very poorly done. Disney could actually give them pointers, as they made tear-jerking cinematic history with Mufasa and Simba, post-stampede. We also see Reed’s character evolve from the bespectacled, slightly nervous science geek to a determined young man played to perfection by Miles Teller, all the way down to the steely look in his eyes when he’s brought back into protective custody. Jamie Bell did well as Ben Grimm and we get a bonus glimpse of the origin of The Things catch phrase “It’s clobberin’ time!” There were some pretty obvious goofs, such as Sue Storm’s hair getting considerably blonder for unknown reasons when they were training at the facility. On the bright side, Mara’s take on Sue Storm was much better than Jessica Alba’s in terms of rendering Storm’s intellectual prowess on screen, with great dead-pan dialogue delivery in some scenes. Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) is your basic arrogant, vitriolic gamer/genius who makes you love-hate him until he decides to fry Dr Storm. However, the CGI on Dr Doom’s post-transformation suit was an atrocity. On paper, Fantastic Four hasn’t got the entertainment quotient down to a tee but one shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss it.