PrintE-mail Written by Iain McNally

Eschewing the bright, comic book style of Tim Story's previous two Fantastic Four movies,  director Josh Trank (Chronicle) reinvents "Marvel's First Family" as a science adventure with more in common with ‘80s escapades such as Innerspace and Explorers than any of their marvel brethren.

Trank takes the Four right back to the beginning, when they were only two, as Ben Grimm is intrigued by Reed Richard's claims to have built a prototype matter teleportation device. Years later a slightly more polished device catches the eye of a Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) and his adopted daughter Sue (Kate Mara), who inform the duo that they've actually been working on an inter-dimensional teleporter the whole time, something the Storms have been working on for years, but unlike Reed's device they haven't been able to bring anything back from the other side.

While Ben (Jamie Bell) stays tending his family's junk yard in Oyster Bay Reed (Miles Teller) moves into the Baxter Building in New York City to work on a much bigger version of the "quantum gate" - no rocket ships or cosmic rays here! Soon he and Sue are joined by previous project head, Viktor Von Dom (dun-dun-DUN!) as played by Tony Kebbell, and Franklin's "hot-headed" son who is also a "hot-shot" mechanical engineer, Jonny Storm (Michael B. Jordan).

Despite some tension between Doom and Reed, of which Reed is completely oblivious to, things seem to be going well for our "science friends" until Tim Blake Nelson's shadowy government official threatens to take their project away from them and a drunken decision is made that will change all their lives forever.

Whilst it would easy to tar Fantastic Four with the label "dark and gritty reboot" it would be more accurate to say that Trank has attempted a more realistic version of Lee and Kirby's scientific adventurers whilst trying to keep some of the light tone of the original comics. Once they undergo their various transformations, things get very dark for a while, especially between Reed and Ben, with some scenes verging on body horror, but the film does take it's time getting to those scenes, preferring to build the characters and their relationships before putting them to the test. And put to the test they are, with a time jump of a year, during which some of the characters end up working for the military whilst others are separated from the main group, allowing tensions to simmer right until the point that they all need to pull together to combat an incredibly powerful Dr. Doom.

The main cast are all a good fit for their roles, Teller capturing the nerdiness, single-mindedness and later anguish of a Reed who just wants to help his friends. Mara's Sue fares much better than Jessica Alba's version of the character, no longer prone to losing her powers suddenly and being a much more competent member of the group. Michael B. Jordan fills a not-quite-Chris-Evans-sized jumpsuit well, although with a lot less joking around, especially when it comes to Jamie Bell's Thing, as the two barely share any screen time. Fans will be happy to know that some foundations are laid for some traditional squabbling in the future.

Grimm suffers the worse of the Four and Trank focuses on this, and how it affects Reed's relationship  with his friend, over any romantic subplot with Sue surprisingly, and while it's unclear how much of The Thing is Bell's performance, the tragedy of the character is very well expressed.

Whilst all the character building comes at the cost of a slightly rushed climax, there's a solid basis here for future movies, if audiences can get on board with a more toned down Fantastic Four. Fox have already tried the conventional comic book adaptation, with two films that weren't met with universal acclaim. Trank's path, whilst certainly different, could be an intriguing one to follow.


Expected Rating: 5 out of 10

Actual Rating:

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0 #9 Ben Grimm 2015-08-12 10:37
How is that Starburst (who really, really know comics) can get this so wrong?

F4ant4stic (or whatever it's called) is a badly imagined adaptation of the Ultimate Four books. They were crap, the movie's crap.

No Yancy Street. No Kirby stylings. No decent Doom. Bad movie is bad.
0 #8 Sam Newsome 2015-08-12 01:21
Iain, I totally agree with your review, and I think the nations' reviewers have been overly harsh towards the film. Sure it's not perfect (MOST films aren't) but for a reboot trying for a more realistic view of the comic, I think Trank & team did OK. Marvel films like 1st Iron Man, The Avengers, & X-Men;Days of Future Past have set the bar SO high for audiences that an attempt like this reboot is inevitably gonna get CREAMED by the critics & fans (as we see!). I think that this cast deserves to have at least one sequel, even if they go with a different director (would love to see what Trank would do with a second shot at this). I thought the film was worth my time!
0 #7 solesoulsorrow 2015-08-10 10:19
Quoting Definitely Not Fox:
A fair and balanced review for a brilliant movie. Thanks for the thumbs up, person whom we've never spoken to before!


I got it, at least...
+2 #6 solesoulsorrow 2015-08-10 10:12
Iain, you're fired. Pack up your desk.
+2 #5 snappy 2015-08-08 13:23
Trying to get quoted on the bluray release?
-6 #4 Definitely Not Fox 2015-08-06 19:56
A fair and balanced review for a brilliant movie. Thanks for the thumbs up, person whom we've never spoken to before!
+6 #3 Sanjay 2015-08-06 19:30
Kids, the lesson here is: Don't. Do. Drugs.
+7 #2 Nubby McGuilicutty 2015-08-06 17:47 review ANYWHERE...

Saw it, disagree 1000% to the point that i wonder what movie you saw. It was by far the worst movie i have seen in a REALLY long time. Like WTF bad.. Stay away, dont see it, and dont buy this reveiw..8 of 10?!? Every other critic in the world is saying total crap minus 2-3..

But then again, 2-3 liked ASM2..were u one?
+20 #1 Josh Trank 2015-08-06 17:26
Bad news, Iain: That check I wrote you is going to bounce.

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