Thursday, 6 August 2015
REVIEW: FANTASTIC FOUR
100 Minutes. Starring: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Michael B. Jordan, Tony Kebbell & Reg W. Cathay. Director: Josh Trank.
Stretch the rights of Sony and Fox all you like in this reboot age, but one day the Marvel adaptations of some of the worlds favourite comic-book characters will return to the cinematic universe they rightfully belong to. Assembling for one hell of an Avenger, Guardians and X-Men team up like Batman v Superman in the 'Dawn Of Justice' next year. Then this battle for the comic-book world will be even more epic than a highly anticipated 'Civil War'. Marvel just keep getting bigger and better this year in their 'Age Of Ultron'. From their small screen dominance with the narrative of the Netflix dynamite 'Daredevil' show, to the big screen one, albeit with an even smaller hero in the form of Marvel's second biggest insect 'Ant-Man'. Making for the best blockbuster of this year in one of 'Mad Max' and 'Fast & Furious' road warriors and 'Jurassic World' and 'Terminator' machine made monsters. Still now in what seemed like a shade of a season under the sun, the barbecue is over for the movie Summer blockbusters and after another red hot one, the Human Torch and his 'Fantastic Four' hope to keep it alight before the storm of the coming winter and a 'Star Wars' fall. The thing is, tailing the 'Rogue Nation' of the latest annual Tom Cruise blockbuster it seems like Mission: Impossible for yet another superhero movie as the critics are choosing not to accept a see-through woman, a guy that suffers from spontaneous human combustion and a pile of rocks and rubble lead by a Stretch Armstrong doll. Even after falling for the tall tale of Marvel's astonishing and smallest soldier in spandex.
Going fourth with Marvel's first family and original superhero team, this may not be so fantastic for Mr. Fox, but its far from drastic, or even a 'Fantastic Bore' that some critics are calling it, like some press has been hiring D.C. writers or something. Sure the film feels more like the movie equivalent of fan-fiction than more official output. I mean here's the first Marvel-ish movie in recent times to have no hint of one of the franchises biggest draws in a cameo from its creator Stan Lee (WHAT?!), which even the Disney animation of 'Big Hero 6' had, or an after credits wait around (NO!), let alone two (OH COME ON!). This more tribute type piece isn't even true to the stand alone testament of something like say the longest-running franchisee of franchises in the form of the X-Men sequel mutations, which was even the biggest thing going before the out of this world (and galaxy) cinematic dominance by the avenging Marvel. Although we would love to see that rumoured X and F4 crossover collaboration of cinematic history that could even happen before the Avengers go out of this world to assemble with those freaking 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' to finally take Thanos off his throne. On the other hand however this could be the 'Amazing Spider-Man' like ultimatum (for the record that series and its Andrew Garfield star was so much better than the Maguire trilogy and what everybody thought. Now just all a waste of talent like the Green Goblin Dane DeHaan's 'Sinister Six' villain movie that was an idea that came before D.C.'s 'Suicide Squad') that sees studios deal to bring another origin story back to its original home, even though we don't need to see Uncle Ben die again, more times than Bruce Wayne's parents. Another reboot here would at least give us the opportunity to see a Hulk busting fight with The Thing on the big-screen but lets give this one a chance first. After the first two 'Fantastic Four' films of the corny, but entertaining superhero time of the early 2000's gave us Jessica Alba and eventually Captain America, by way of Chris Evans' hot Human Torch. This one looks to darken the mood like the beginnings of a Batman story after the Silver Surfers rise failed to catch waves. This shadowy saga doesn't look to catch many rays either, even with one character made of flames and another looking like some sort of crap left out in the sun. Still all the number two talk aside this is no turd.
As a matter of fact it almost is the s***! Mixing some amazing action with vivid visuals that keep the clunky cliches and dumb dialogue at bay. A strange film to compare it to is a previous years big Summer movie in 'The Great Gatsby' (no this isn't jazz age, but we're comparing it to a movie that after all did star 'Spider-Man' Tobey Maguire however). One that's in your face, crass cinematography couldn't distract you from a dull and suspect story. That was until Leonardo DiCaprio put the second half of the film on his back and made that part great, balancing out the scales for a pretty good movie in the end. That's kind of how this works here, albeit the origins of the backstory beginning make up for a luster lacking end that seems it was budget bluster or idea inspired cut short. Some of the ways our humans made heroes get their powers are as deeply thought out as they are that unsettling for some unique and undeniable moments. It's all perfectly set up for a film you're set to roll with 'till the wheels fall off only for the engine to fall out in the middle. Resulting in a films finale that would have been perfect for a middle set-piece to set-up for a Battle Royale, stronger finish instead of leading to a 404 of an ending. Give this bare bones hero becoming story by the career chronicles of more down to earth superheroes Josh Trank the ending it earns, like the New York, New York big-city, big-budget extravagance that this formidable family deserve and you then have a fantastic, four star movie. Instead of some Garden State outskirts, unspecified military location weaponisation. Which is good for the first hour at least, but this great cast deserves more. Just like 'Whiplash' poster boy Miles Teller who you can tell is going the extra kilometers here. Drumming up a more human Reed Richards, whilst whipping those stretchy arms and legs into stunning C.G. shape for formidable, forest fighting that doesn't look silly, or too fake...even using his rubber face to join the Ethan Hunt school of distinct disguises. Add his love interest of Kate Mara to bring more brains to the beauty of Susan Storm and this Invisible Woman that once issued Tony Stark with a subpoena in 'Iron Man 2' is not hiding anymore. Just like 'Billy Elliott' ballet boy turned bully muscle, Jamie Bell whose rock hard Thing character is anything but grim. But I feel like we need Bradley Cooper's 'Hangover' character to tell him to put some pants on, because I feel weird asking twice. As a matter of fact come to think of it, where's The Thing's...erm "thing"?! He looks the part too just like Trank's returning 'Chronicle' hero Michael B. Jordan (who like his namesake is about to become the next great sports hero as Apollo's son in the Rocky spin-off 'Creed'), who really flies as he flames on after Cap Chris Evans passed him the torch. Incinerating those racists who said he couldn't play Sue's sibling whilst burning up the charismatic cockiness that makes this Johnny Storm, John Blaze. Igniting and uniting this family fathered by the formidable 'House Of Cards' star Reg W. Cathay (who is the grand gravitas of this picture with a beautiful baritone that could even best Morgan Freeman, I mean this guy paves gravel paths with every serious syllable), to the point where he should incendiary ink their logo in the sky. Even Tony Kebbell's incarnation of the iconic Doom character survives a Silver Surfer on steroids look that is in desperate need of a mask with that cloak to show in one walk of the corridor just how brutal, but brilliant a villain he is. Marvel need more of this madness, especially in its 'Daredevil', Punisher (who could learn something from a movie cast he seemingly killed in a yesteryear Marvel comic) season of no lives or bullets spared. I mean imagine if Ultron was this annihilating? Or Thanos...here's hoping. All in all this assemble has the makings of something Fantastic, but in four minutes more than your average rom-com it falls short. Still lets not outstretch our arms to throw rocks at this Thing. The fire isn't out for these kids that many think need to disappear. Right now it's not clobbering time...yet! TIM DAVID HARVEY.