When even a film’s own cast start mumbling about how they haven’t seen it, that it’s probably a bit rubbish, and that it’s not a critics’ film, you know you’re in trouble. Sure enough, this latest version of a story which had a perfectly decent outing all of 10 years ago turns out to be a dud. It’s the usual reasons to blame too – a dog of a script, wooden half-hearted acting and a boring story about saving the world. To be fair, the special effects are actually pretty good, and some minor characters put in a shift, but in the preview screening people started walking out after 10 minutes.
Do we really have to go through the whole set-up of how they become the Four? Apparently we do, so we get a full hour of Teller’s Reed Richards inventing a teleportal machine which sends sand, chimps and then humans to an undiscovered planet that turns out to have an inexhaustible supply of power. He teams up with Johnny Storm (Jordan, ok), Sue Storm (Mara, half-asleep), Victor von Doom (Kebbell, chewing scenery) and his old pal Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell, adequate) to complete the work, but an accident sees Doom stranded on the planet alone while the other four return to Earth with strange powers.
Richard’s elastic body is a marvel of special effects, as he stretches and contorts his limbs, and Johnny’s Flame is equally impressive, especially in the sound department. Sue Storm’s powers are visually striking, only The Thing looks a little odd. What is so depressing though is how hackneyed the story and script are, with the usual ‘let’s use these powers to aid mankind’ thrown in with ‘let’s get some rest’ style clichés.
As usual in these franchises the most interesting character is the bad seed, here Kebbell’s Doom, relishing his lonely planet and intent of wreaking havoc on Earth when he gets his chance. His costume is a marvel of green moving slime, but as his mouth doesn’t move when he speaks it does cause some confusion in one scene. He throws in some eco-friendly waffle about mankind having blown its chance on Earth, and greed bringing about everyone’s downfall, but it’s all terribly half-hearted. Kebbell’s acting also highlights the shortcomings of the others, especially Teller’s Richards and Mara’s Sue Storm, who makes looking moody an art form.
Having gone down the road of telling us how they become the Fit leaves little room for any actual story – the film is virtually plotless – or action, with the final showdown actually a bit dull. You could say that about the whole thing actually, no pun intended.
Overall verdict: Box-ticking exercise in updating a franchise for no particular reason and bringing nothing new to the table. The special effects are state of the art but is that a good enough reason to sit through yet another franchise product. Cheerless.
Reviewer: Mike Martin