|The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:|
|Original title:||Fantastic Four|
|Production country:||USA 2015|
|Running time:||Approx. 100 min.|
|Rated:||From 12 years|
Superhero movies and comic book adaptations are all the rage. You'd have to be living under a rock not to have noticed. Whether it's the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, or most recently Ant-Man, there's hardly a superhero that isn't currently drawing crowds to theaters. And anyone who has the rights to such a lucrative franchise naturally wants to make as much profit from it as possible right now. In about a year's time, the rights to the Fantastic Four would have reverted back to Marvel if a new film about the mutant quartet hadn't hit theaters by then. The US studio Fox (in Germany, the rights are held by Constantin Film), which has with the X-Men one of the hottest superhero irons in the fire, wanted to prevent this, of course, and has after the two artistically and commercially not really successful films of 2005 and 2007 a reboot of the series commissioned. Josh Trank, who had been one of the genre's biggest hopefuls since Chronicle, was hired as director. Given the harsh criticism of Tim Story's version of the Fantastic Four and the outsized competition from the other Marvel heroes, fans were allowed to hope that the studio and director would get it right on this new attempt. And for the most part, the first half of the film seems to have actually succeeded. But then, unfortunately, things do go sour...
The film is a typical Origin story, with viewers learning (yet again) how the Fantastic Four got their powers and their name. Here, however, Trank takes a very different approach than Tim Story did before. His story begins with a very young Reed Richards experimenting as a child on the invention that will earn him a place in a highly decorated research facility run by Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) a few years later as a young man (Miles Teller). Along with siblings Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) and Sue Storm (Kate Mara) and genius loner Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), Reed develops a machine that can open the gateway to a parallel universe. When the military tries to seize control of the machine after its completion, Reed, Johnny and Victor, along with Reed's childhood friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), venture into the alien world on their own - with disastrous consequences. Victor has an apparently fatal accident and the others are hit by gene-manipulating radiation - just like Sue, who has been desperately trying to get the four of them back to her world. Ben becomes a giant stone creature, Johnny a living torch, Sue an invisible woman, and Reed suddenly has extra elastic limbs. While he flees the military to develop an antidote to these mutations, the others must learn to use their newly acquired abilities for the good of humanity at a secret facility - or so the military says. A year later, they are put to a particularly tough test that could decide the fate of all humanity...
Director Josh Trank has since publicly distanced himself from the film after harsh criticism. He says the studio made it impossible for him to realize his vision. Whether or not the studio is solely to blame, it's impossible to really judge as an outsider. But there are quite a few moments in the film that clearly reveal Trank's talent and show that somewhere in the work there is a lot of potential for a really good superhero movie. The scenes showing Reed and Ben as kids, for instance, are infused with a touch of Spielbergian 80s nostalgia. And the moments where Reed slowly evolves from a nerdy country bumpkin to a real scientist with a dimension-spanning explorer urge also have their appeal. Miles Teller, who most recently wowed in the great drama Whiplash, is convincing as the youthful Mr. Fantastic, as is Jamie Bell as his best friend Ben and the slightly too serious Kate Mara as Sue Storm. Michael B. Jordan, as the Human Torch, is unfortunately not quite as cool and entertaining as his predecessor, the current Captain America Chris Evans. And Toby Kebbell, as Victor Von Doom, is also only able to please in the first half of the film as a grunge scientist. But as Doom, he fails on the basis of the hideous design of his mask alone.
The moment the action jumps a year into the future, chaos takes over. The dynamic between the actors, which worked so well before, suddenly seems extremely tried and the actors act visibly demotivated. The special effects are great at times, especially when it comes to Ben Grimm. But in too many scenes they seem rather cheap (especially in the ones that take place on the alien world, where the big showdown of the movie takes place). It's in this aspect, which is so important to the genre after all, that the Fantastic Four simply can't compete with their counterparts from the Marvel or DC universes. The second half of the film seems like a lovelessly staged quick fix, which only in a few moments has the quality of the really successful beginning.
You have as a viewer the feeling that here were randomly removed plot elements. The whole thing feels unfinished and rushed, which neither the actors nor the inherently well-loved original deserve. Still, the disaster that many critics see in the film is not the whole thing. Despite obvious flaws, the lousy villain design, and despite the rather disappointing finale, this reboot is entertaining and paced for long stretches. And it's by no means the worst Fantastic Four movie to hit theaters so far. But even if there is a certain entertainment factor and some decent show values, the hope for a really good Fantastic Four adaptation has unfortunately not been fulfilled this time. For this there is then also only one: with deductions worth seeing!
An article by Frankfurt-Tipp