After months of bad press, and little to no hope being put into this reboot of Marvel Comics most famous family, and so quickly after the much maligned early 2000s version, it was with no little surprise that the reviews of this film have been universally bad. With 9% currently on Rotten Tomatoes and one of the most uninspired movie ad campaigns of recent memory, the film is surely going to be the biggest failure of the summer, disappointment or not.
Yet, as I stepped out of the cinema, having gone into it with no high hopes, I thought to myself that it wasn’t actually as bad as I thought it would be. Sure, it’s a mess. The characters have little depth, the script is lumpen, every so often performances feel like they used the fourth best take, and the third act is so rushed that, for one of the shortest superhero films out there, it simply finishes when you expect at least another 45 minutes.
So why am I not down on it? I can’t say I loved it, I can’t say I thought it was good, in fact, it had barely any humour, no sense of dread, nothing to make you care about the characters and a complete void of any action, at all, for the first two acts, but I didn’t feel bored. I wanted this film to be good, I loved director Josh Tranks first film ‘Chronicle’ and each of the young cast members are people I like from other things, so maybe I’m just forcing myself to like it.
The film has some interesting stuff going on, the special effects, once they get the powers are well done and the initial scenes in which they discover, horrified, that they’ve been horribly changed, resembles in many ways classic body horror films, for a family audience of course. When Von Doom comes onto the scene with an indescribable power (literally, what the hell is going on there?), he goes all scanners on anyone who stands in his way, and for a moment, it is a little creepy.
The more I write this review, the more I am thinking about its flaws. The characters have no motivations, the setting is dull grey for nearly all its running time, it tries to mix the clear goofiness of the premise with the dour notes of DCs recent oeuvre and Miles Teller and Jamie Bell are about as convincing at being teenagers as the cast of Wet Hot American Summer: First Day at Camp.
I am not invested in this story whatsoever and the people involved are not my favourites in the film business and I know that it’s bad and gloomy and will most likely bomb at the box office, but for some reason, one which I cannot yet fathom, I didn’t dislike it.