by Sam Robinson
Rated M. Starring Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell. Directed by Josh Trank.
Ten years since the release of Fantastic Four, Fantastic Four slams on to our screens. The original film and particularly its sequel, Rise of the Silver Surfer, were palmed off by critics. Given time to breathe, 20th Century Fox has rebooted the franchise, hoping to redeem themselves and jump on the coattails of the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Unfortunately, Fox and director Josh Trank have made a film that’s even worse than the 2005 original, and although this film is really a franchise set-up movie, I would almost bet that we won’t be seeing Mr. Fantastic and his league of random superheroes for another decade (or, until the MCU gets the rights, and does the Four justice).
Reed Richards (Teller) and Ben Grimm (Bell) are childhood buddies, both with a passion for science and experimentation. They somehow manage to produce a prototype teleporter and by the time they are teens, Reid is recruited by Professor-with-a-crazy-deep-voice Franklin Storm (Reg E. Carthy) to help make a teleporter that can transport people into a fourth dimension. It’s all very silly – and the fact that their mate Victor with the emphasised last name – Von Doom – ends up joining them for a sneaky jaunt into said dimension when nobody is looking, gives away what might happen next.
Yes, he’s evil.
This is the first of many disappointments of Fantastic 4: the script is bad. Like, really bad. Despite some wonderful actors being on the bill, there is no opportunity for emotional engagement, and the dialogue is so unimaginative.
Perhaps my biggest gripe here is the pacing of the film. It’s incredibly slow to start, the characters take forever to get their powers, then the action jumps forward a year, then suddenly you realise it’s the climax and it’s over super fast. You can tell that stacks of scenes have been cut from the final product – and it’s as though the remains are being held together precariously by sticky tape. It’s not good. And despite the humour hinted in the trailer, it’s actually a pretty sombre (and disturbingly violent in one scene) affair.
‘We’re family. Family means we take care of each other.’
Fantastic 4 pushes the concept of family. Professor Storm is a father to two of the four – one through adoption – and as the film progresses, the others are unofficially adopted in. As we see our four heroes, they couldn’t be further different from each other. One is a walking boulder, another a flying flame ball, and one has the genes of Stretch Armstrong. But they are even closer than a superhero team – they are family.
Just like Storm, our God has brought together children from all backgrounds. We are his children, and he is our Father. It’s always weird to think about church: a bunch of people who wouldn’t usually associate with each other, united in Christ and adopted equally as sons and daughters. Ephesians 3:6:
‘…through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.’
Those who were once far away from God, were brought near by the blood of Jesus. This includes you and me! We were far away from God but he adopts us in, and delights to call us his children. The heroes of Fantastic 4 go through major trauma and change, but their one comfort and constant comes from their community and the care of a loving father.
Look – Fantastic 4 isn’t good. In fact, it’s a mess. I recommend you wait to see this one on home media, but even then, beware. I’m giving it two stars.
Fantastic 4 is releasing worldwide later this week.