This is bad. Bad? Worse. Worse than was rumoured. Really bad. Like 'makes you seriously re-evaluate the 2005 version' bad. This is an unutterable fuck-up to launch a million angry blog posts and mocking GIFs; books will be written and documentaries will be filmed on the behind-the-scenes disasters which led to its mangled creation. These will doubtless all be more enjoyable than the experience of watching FANTASTIC FOUR (or as they are calling it on the poster, 'FANT4STIC').

The script is piecemeal to the point of nonsensical, and the actors – who are uniformly so far above the material it’s painful to watch such talent being so contemptuously wasted for 100 straight minutes - struggle to hide their embarrassment as they perform it. The visual effects are occasionally impressive, but too often they're shithouse. The cinematography is as flat and unremarkable as the themeless, aimless score from Marco Beltrami and – bizarrely – Philip Glass. Even the set dressing sucks, never letting you forget you're watching a movie. The editing is so off-kilter that the tone varies wildly within individual scenes – pay attention early on to Dr Franklin Storm (Reg E. Carthy) telling off his son Johnny (Michael B. Jordan), first in the hospital, then in the car. The emotional continuity of this performance jars like slamming a kitchen drawer on your fingers. Repeatedly.

Which all brings us to Josh Trank’s direction. Whether solely his fault or not (he’s also one of the credited screenwriters, so he’s got to shoulder at least a chunk of the blame), about the kindest, most understated thing you can say of it is that it’s never self-assured, leaving a movie that is neither fish nor foul. One of the better ideas Trank touches on is to make the four younger, and have this be a journey of reckless youth. But any youthful energy the cast attempt repeatedly gets sucked out by a muted colour palette just short of MAN OF STEEL’s dour-o-vision and moments of violence that sit uncomfortably beyond what five minutes ago we thought was being made and played for youngsters. And this is just a tip of the iceberg...

20th Century Fox were contractually obliged to make this movie to avoid surrendering the intellectual property rights of the Fantastic Four characters back to Marvel. So basically a bunch of people couldn’t agree over something that they were told they had to make. FANTASTIC FOUR will come to represent everything wrong with licensed franchise filmmaking – and it deserves to. Hopefully this will go down as the nadir of the modern comic book movie, and anything else can only be better than this. No-one, least of all the fans, deserves any worse.

FANTASTIC FOUR is released August 6 in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, and August 7 in the US.