After Tim Story’s Fantastic Four films ended with the catastrophe that was the Galactus cloud, you could be forgiven for thinking that the only way was up when it came to depicting Marvel’s first family on film. Indeed, there were plenty of reasons to be excited for Josh Trank’s reboot: the director had previously made Chronicle – a fun and interesting take on teens with superpowers – and Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell and Miles Teller have all impressed in previous projects. So it is doubly shocking and disappointing that the fourth try at a live action Fantastic Four barely stacks up to Story’s aforementioned films, let alone the high standards we’ve come to expect from comic book movies today.
What does it take to be the best?
It’s a question that all who strive to attain the highest levels of success ask themselves, and it’s a question that Whiplash – the superb sophomore feature from writer-director Damien Chazelle – poses in riveting, effective, and wonderfully ambiguous fashion.
Miles Teller stars as Andrew Neiman, an ambitious 19-year old drummer who’s determined to become one of the greats. That’s led him to the (fictional) Shaffer Conservatory of Music in New York, where infamous instructor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) presides over an award-winning jazz band. All appears to be going well when Andrew catches Fletcher’s eye and is promoted to his top tier ensemble. It’s then that the instructor’s verbal, emotional, and physically abusive teaching methods are made brutally clear, and as Andrew pushes himself to dangerous lengths to meet Fletcher’s demanding standards, the question for both mentor and student is how far is too far in the pursuit of greatness.
On paper, That Awkward Moment (2014) was an appealing proposition; a rom-com told from the male perspective with talented up-and-coming actors in the lead roles. So it’s unfortunate that Tom Gormican’s debut feature, which might have offered a refreshingly astute perspective on young relationships, makes for a largely forgettable affair.
After Mikey (Chronicle’s Michael B. Jordan) is blindsided by the revelation that his wife Vera (Jessica Lucas) wants a divorce, best buds Jason (Zac Efron) and Daniel (Miles Teller) come to his aid. In an act of solidarity, the trio make a pact to avoid committing to any future relationship. However, soon enough Jason starts to fall in love with Ellie (Imogen Poots), whilst Daniel begins to swoon over long-time friend Chelsea (Mackenzie Davis). Meanwhile, Mikey finds it hard to move on, seeking to repair his marriage with Vera.