One would think that Josh Trank, whose career to date has been built upon action genre, would boost Fantastic Four up a notch, but very disappointingly, the end result is almost completely bereft of any good action moment. Reed Richards (Miles Teller), supported by his childhood friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), is recruited by Professor Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) to invent a machine which could transport matter to another dimension and bring it back. In their team there are also Storm’s adopted daughter Sue Storm (Kate Mara) and biological son Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), as well as a recalcitrant ex-student Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell).
Apparently casted to target young adults and TV series fans, these young actors and actress have rather disconnected and lukewarm screen presence as a team. It cannot be helped by the narrative thread which feels dangerously off balance; preparation for launch is painfully lengthy and against an underwhelming laboratory backdrop, whereas the becoming of Fantastic Four and the supposedly climactic fight scene turns out to be scratchy sketches with rather old-fashioned visual design. With superpower being tucked away for the majority of running time and acquiring a merely ornamental function, the film is more about Unfantastic Four than Fantastic Four. Yet, looking on the bright side, the film prompts film professionals to re-examine the blinding craze of media franchise for risk-avoidance – a task long overdue.
Fantastic Four | Directed by Joshua Trank (USA 2015) with Miles Teller, Reg E. Cathey, Kate Mara. Starts August 13