Marvel’s self-styled ‘Greatest Comic in the Universe’ gets its second cinematic makeover (the first, a Roger Corman-produced cheapie made in 1994, remains largely unseen due to legal issues). Since their debut in the early ’60s, the Fantastic Four have bitched, bickered and battled their dysfunctional family way through more soap operas than intergalactic slugfests. The most successful comic book movie adaptations of recent times – ‘Spider-Man 2’, ‘X-Men’ and ‘Batman Begins’ – have all emphasised character over action, and hired talented actors and innovative directors to stamp their mark on these spandex-clad creations. Which makes the choice of director Tim Story, whose uninspiring CV includes the abysmal ‘Taxi’ remake, both inexplicable and catastrophic. Not that he’s helped by a pun-filled, exposition-heavy script that takes several sacrilegious liberties with the source material. The basic concept remains intact – scientist Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), his busty former beau Sue Storm (Jessica Alba), her hotheaded brother Johnny (Chris Evans) and Reed’s stoic pal Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) have their DNA fundamentally altered after their spacecraft is battered by cosmic radiation, transforming them into rubber-limbed Mr Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, flying supernova the Human Torch, and craggy, orange-skinned monster The Thing. But the film fails to develop the characters beyond their newly acquired superpowers, much less provide the villainous Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon) with much cause for his maniacal campness. None of which would matter so much if this didn’t look and feel quite so bargain-basement, the mediocre production values, cheesy acting and remarkably unspecial effects pegging it squarely in the realm of the very young and less discerning. Fantastic it most certainly ain’t.