Fantastic Four in cinemas today – here’s our review!

The new Fantastic Four movie has been kept away from critics until as close as possible to release, but now we've seen it. It's from Marvel. But is it marvellous?

Fantastic Four

by Charles Gant |
Published on

The plot: It may not seem that long ago since those other _Fantastic Fou_r movies starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba and Co, but audiences clearly didn’t want any more sequels of those ones, so it was time for stakeholders Fox and Marvel to press the reboot button. This new Fantastic Four is very much an origins tale, explaining how young genius Reed Richards (Whiplash’s Miles Teller), childhood pal Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), Johnny Storm (Chronicle’s Michael B Jordan) and his adopted sister Sue (House Of Cards’ Kate Mara) all end up being contaminated by a distant planet’s energy source that wreaks devastating physical changes on the four of them.

What’s right with it? Fantastic Four is directed by Josh Trank, who did clever teen sci-fi flick Chronicle, and, at least initially, this has a similar feel to it. Compared to the previous Fantastic Four films, the story feels rooted in a believable realm, with characters that are credibly presented, and nicely performed by the cast.

What’s wrong with it? This film, smartly, suggests that being transformed into a rock-encrusted monster, which is Ben’s fate when he becomes The Thing, isn’t so much fun, and nor is being consumed by flames, as Johnny is turned into the Human Torch. Fair enough, but a superhero film that’s all about extreme physical trauma soon becomes a drag. Ditto the escalating conflict with Victor Doom (Toby Kebbell – who excelled as the villainous bonobo Koba in Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes), who has likewise been transformed by the alien planet’s energy source and is now intent on destroying planet Earth. The actors increasingly disappear behind the CGI transformations of their bodies ­– Jamie Bell essentially exits the film halfway through – and the humanity of the piece essentially bleeds away. Shame.

Verdict: The cast looked highly promising. The director seemed an inspired choice. But this attempt to fuse what is fairly fanciful source material (Mr Elastic! The Invisible Woman!) with a gritty, nicely textured tone has suffered a fair few mishaps on the way to our screens. Maybe it’s now time to finally give up trying to make films of the Fantastic Four? HH CHARLES GANT

Fantastic Four (12A, 100 minutes) is in cinemas today.

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