If you enjoyed 2012’s teens-run-amok-with-superpowers hit Chronicle, expect another brilliant, believable thrill-ride in this summer’s Fantastic Four.
1. It’s another tale of kids acquiring superpowers
What made Chronicle so fresh was the way it depicted ordinary, emotionally muddled teens suddenly able to do extraordinary things. Given a talent for telekinesis, would they immediately don a spandex suit and set out to save the world? Nope, they’d show off at parties, lark about playing football at 30,000ft and indulge in petulant acts of road rage.
The same “Wow, I can do that” feel informs Fantastic Four, a tale of youngsters who overnight find some extra skills on their CV. This time it’s not just flicking trucks off the highway, though. Brainiac Reed Richards finds himself extra stretchy as Mr Elastic, Sue Storm can – with a bit of effort – become the Invisible Woman, her brother Johnny can ignite himself into the Human Torch and their friend Ben Grimm has to come to terms with life as a monumental rock-man known, concisely, as The Thing.
2. By inadvisedly exploring a fiery pit
In Chronicle, you will recall our teenage trio of geek, jock and sensitive type wandering off from a high school party to explore a mysterious charred pit in the woods. Meteor strike? Crashed alien probe? Whatever it is, prodding its glowing contents leads rapidly to horrified looks, camera meltdown and – some time later – those new, unearthly abilities.
In Fantastic Four, the journey’s a little further than the back of the bike sheds – Reed and co have cracked inter-dimensional travel. Given the run of the government tech lab run by Sue’s dad, the foursome are soon strapping in for a ride to the other side. Which turns out to be a fiery planet belching lava-like gloop from its alien core. Cue horrified looks, camera meltdown and - you get the idea.
3. Then having to take on a friend-turned-foe
As well as the Fantastic Four, there’s an odious one. With a name like Victor Domashev, things were all always going to end badly for the fifth transformed person, who becomes the cowled and scarred Dr Doom. “To stop him, you’re going to need everything you have,” the team are gravely informed. Which rather reminds us of the climax of Chronicle, in which geek-turned-megalomaniac Andrew starts trashing cities and has to be brought down by his former pal Matt.
4. Directed by Josh Trank
Made for peanuts but a global hit, Chronicle placed its then-27-year-old director Josh Trank firmly on Hollywood’s radar. Fantastic Four is his follow-up, and apparently it’s a tale he cares about profoundly. “I always felt very, very personally and emotionally connected to the Fantastic Four”, he recently told Total Film (which is nice but makes us want to have a little word with his mum). One thing’s for sure: nobody is better at channelling the angst and awesomeness of growing up different.
5. And starring Michael B. Jordan
Chronicle’s likeably cocky Steve is back in Fantastic Four as the Human Torch. And acting alongside him are Miles Teller (fresh from Oscar-winning drumming movie Whiplash), Kate Mara (House of Cards) and Britain’s own Jamie Bell – who couldn’t pick a better part than The Thing to distance himself from his career-defining role as wee Billy Elliott.
With no huge stars but a whole lot of chemistry between its young leads, Fantastic Four looks set to be every bit as believable and breathtaking as its indie predecessor. But with a Hollywood budget, this time it’s on a whole different scale…
Fantastic Four flies into Cineworld on 6 August.