While it may not be this year's most-anticipated movie, there was one thing that almost everybody couldn't wait for when it came to Josh Trank's Fantastic Four reboot – and that was the reviews. Having so much at stake, and with the aim of rectifying all that went wrong with the questionable original movie of 10 years ago (and its 2007-released sequel), Marvel fans and general movie-goers were intrigued to see how this new take on the characters would fare. And now that the critical verdicts are in, it would turn out that they haven't fared too well.
The film is released in the UK today (6 August 2015), and doubts that the movie was any good had already been fuelled by the fact that its first reviews only started emerging yesterday. It's never a great sign when studios try and hold off as long as possible for reviews to be released: it usually signifies that they know the film won't go down too well, and they don't want to harm their chances of making a killing with pre-bookings and opening-weekend sales.
Now that opinions are starting to be heard and read, it seems that the film's biggest problems are twofold: a lack of chemistry between the main cast, and the movie's pacing. The first of these viewpoints is one that Den Of Geek expanded upon: "The near-fatal flaw with this version of the Fantastic Four is that they don't really have much chemistry with one another. In this regard, Michael B Jordan may be the standout player of the group, bringing the same laidback charm he exhibited in [Trank's 2012 film] Chronicle to the cocksure and wayward Johnny Storm."
The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy said "the cast is utterly wasted with mostly rote explanatory dialogue and little conflict or nuance to work on a dramatic level" and
"[Miles] Teller and Jordan have done such promising early work" in films such as the Oscar-winning Whiplash. "And the visual style is in a dark, unattractive, gloomy mode that infects every aspect of the film," they continued. "Near the end, Teller's Reed comments on the status of the group's actions by proclaiming, 'We opened this door, we're gonna close it.' The sooner the better."
Often notorious for its superhero-movie enthusiasm – having given Ant-Man and Avengers: Age Of Ultron four out of five stars – even Empire wasn't impressed, warranting Fantastic Four just two stars. The magazine called it "an origin story that's all origins and no story, there's a hollow, stale feeling to this occasionally admirable attempt to Nolanise Marvel's dysfunctional family".
Variety wrote: "Where many recent superhero movies have risked overstaying their welcome, Fantastic Four, at 100 minutes, actually feels a tad rushed at the end, with a hasty climax that nevertheless produces some solid moments – at least a few of which, given the slow pace initially, probably should have come at least a half-hour sooner," he writes. "Instead, film-goers are treated to a lot of science, with the central characters gazing intently into computer screens."
One of the more scathing publications with negative thoughts on the reboot was The Guardian, writing that "the latest Marvel comic-book adventure is straining for indie credibility while moving at a glacial pace – wasting some fine actors in the process". Reviewer Henry Barnes continued: "The cast are some of the most promising actors of their generation, but what chemistry there is between them is swept away by wave after wave of expository dialogue and ludicrous exclamation."
House Of Cards actor Kate Mara seems to have as much on-screen presence as her character The Invisible Woman as she's barely mentioned specifically in any of the early verdicts – which is rather surprising, given how well she was praised in the Netflix series. All of the main cast get some kind of praise across the entire spread of the reviews, with Jordan and Toby Kebbell (who plays supervillain Victor Von Doom) arguably coming off the best.
Alternatively, Little White Lies enjoyed the fresh aspects of Fantastic Four, saying that it presented a superhero template that seemed "genuinely intriguing and valuable" against the existing "tired template.
"One feels that Fantastic Four is the brainy back-room boy compared to the shallow, red-carpet-ready entities of an Ant-Man, an Avengers or, ugh, an Iron Man. So yeah... it's a good film, about real things," they concluded. Meanwhile, HitFlix remained on the fence, labelling the "powerfully mediocre" movie as "neither disaster nor success".
But when it comes to Marvel-based characters, it's the mainstream audiences that really have the power to make a movie a box-office smash or not, and it seems as if they've got a slightly more balanced view of the film than most of the movie critics.
One Twitter user wrote: "The first half of FANTASTIC FOUR is very, very good. The latter half feels rushed and forced. The finale is silly." They added: "the cast does the best they can. The film is generally well-shot. Not the disaster it could have been, but FANTASTIC FOUR still isn't good". Another Twitter user said the "new Fantastic Four was very, very good."
Studio heads at 20th Century Fox have already announced that there will be a sequel to this reimagining, but judging by the overwhelming negative thoughts about the first instalment, it is unlikely to be greeted with a warm welcome when it undoubtedly comes.