Will Fantastic Four be a fantastic flop?

Look forward to more clobbering action from The Thing, or Ben Grimm, played this time by Jamie Bell

This soon-to-open film is the third time we’ll see the super quartet in theatres – what new twists can we expect?

Instead of the original mission to outer space, the new Fantastic Four sends four youths to a dangerous alternate universe
Instead of the original mission to outer space, the new Fantastic Four sends four youths to a dangerous alternate universe

History has shown that film remakes tend to have it rough. After all, the new movie will always be compared to the original, or the previous one.

Moreover, how many times can we see the same battles being fought and the same – albeit awesome – superpowers being thrown around?

This newest Fantastic Four film follows 2005’s Fantastic Four and 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer but with significant differences. The previous two starred big-name actors such as Chris Evans and Jessica Alba and this new incarnation, or reboot, already has much to go up against.

After viewing the trailer for this new Marvel film, I’m inclined to believe that the new Fantastic Four has great promise that’s worth banking on.

Reinventing Marvel’s Oldest Superheroes

Look forward to more clobbering action from The Thing, or Ben Grimm, played this time by Jamie Bell
Look forward to more clobbering action from The Thing, or Ben Grimm, played this time by Jamie Bell

Did you know that the Fantastic Four is Marvel’s original superhero team and longest-running comic? Well, now you do.

Nevertheless, this upcoming film dis-regards all of the long-standing history. Before any diehard Marvel fan dashes for a pitchfork or hanging noose, consider that this retelling might actually be quite refreshing.

Instead of the original story that featured scientific experts on a near-fatal mission to outer space, this present tale now follows four college-aged youths who are teleported to an alternate and dangerous universe, which irreversibly alters their physical forms.

This seems to be a great chance to explore not only the strength of youth but also the sobering reality of new responsibilities that have now landed upon them.

I just hope that it doesn’t veer into the territory of bad college jokes and reckless abandon.

Questionable Casting?

The casting of Michael B Jordan as Johnny Storm has confused many fans, who prefer the previous actor, Chris Evans
The casting of Michael B Jordan as Johnny Storm has confused many fans, who prefer the previous actor, Chris Evans

One challenge with working against many remakes is the introduction of new faces to already established and popular roles.

Alba pretty successfully translated the attractive figure of Susan Storm from comic to screen, and owned the role in her unique way, while Evans portrayed a very convincing Johnny Storm.

One commenter on the new movie’s YouTube trailer wrote, “I can’t take any of the new actors seriously.”

Another one expressed confusion at the new Johnny Storm, who is now portrayed by African-American actor Michael B Jordan (of Friday Night Lights and That Awkward Moment).

The decision to cast Evans as Marvel hero Captain America – which is in conflict with his previous role as Johnny Storm – was what spurred this change. The movie audience may not be so open to this.

Reed Richards, or Mr Fantastic, will be played by Miles Teller (Footloose); Susan Storm will be played by Kate Mara (“House of Cards”); and Ben Grimm, or The Thing, by Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, King Kong).

This new casting is a hang-up that Fantastic Four fans have already been very vocal about. Whether this present Fantastic Four cast is a class act remains to be seen.

Old Friends & New Enemies

Kate Mara (left) and Miles Teller (right) are the new Sue Storm and Mr Fantastic in this Fantastic Four reboot
Kate Mara (left) and Miles Teller (right) are the new Sue Storm and Mr Fantastic in this Fantastic Four reboot

This reboot will also introduce The Mole Man, a supervillain in the original Fantastic Four comic series from way back in 1961. Played by Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?), the Mole Man a is a nuclear engineer who fell into a massive subterranean cave and was blinded by the highly-reflective diamond deposits there.

Of course, it’s uncertain whether the Mole Man we’ll see will have the same background as the original character, since the key story has already been altered.

What we do know is that he’ll be fighting against the Fantastic Four alongside Doctor Doom (played by Toby Kebbell from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Dr Franklin Storm (Reg E Cathey of “The Wire”).

With so many new elements in this reboot, it seems like Fantastic Four is worth a watch. Still, one can’t help feeling short-changed by the transition from Silver Surfer to Mole Man.

Still, who knows – these characters may be critical to the upcoming Marvel ‘Civil War’ movie. You might as well get comfortable with them now.
By Pamela Chow

Fantastic Four [PG]

Director: Josh Trank
Starring: Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Miles Teller & Michael B Jordan
Genre: Action, Adventure
Run length: 110 min
Release: 6 Aug

 

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