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    Fantastic Four (2015): Movie Review

    “An un-fantastic reboot and superhero origin movie.” 

    Eight years after its last adaptation, the fantastic quartet of Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch and Thing come back to the big screen. Fusing elements from the original comic book by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and Tim Story film versions in 2005 and 2007, director Josh Trank and co-writers Jeremy Slater and Simon Kinberg seems to have made a hasty and even more mediocre reboot of the series. Frustratingly, Fantastic Four feels like a lousy 100-minute trailer for another film to come (or may not come).

    The film opens with child prodigy Reed Richards trying to develop a crude teleportation device with his fifth-grader classmate Ben Grimm. Seven years later, Reed (Miles Teller) and Ben (Jamie Bell) exhibit the teleporter at a science fair. The invention attracts the attention of Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) who immediately recognizes Reed’s brilliance. Eventually, Reed receives a scholarship at Baxter Institute, some sort of school for the scientifically-gifted where he later works with Dr. Storm and her adopted daughter Sue (Kate Mara) who shares the same interest with him. There, he also meets and collaborates with Sue’s hot-tempered juvenile brother Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) and Dr. Storm’s former prized student, Victor Von Doom (Tony Kebbell).

    Using a full-size version of Reed’s teleporter, the team’s project aims to travel to other dimensions to find new energy sources. That other dimension turns out to be Planet Zero, a place filled with otherworldly substances. Denied involvement with the expedition, Reed, Sue, Jeremy, Victor and new recruit Ben attempt an unsanctioned voyage to Planet Zero. However, a misfortune ensues, resulting to Victor’s  disappearance in the foreign planet and the other’s acquisition of superhuman powers. Reeds gains the ability to stretch his body, Sue to turn invisible and cast force fields, Johnny to fly and burst into flames, and Ben, to his utter dismay, transforms to a rock-like creature with brute strength. With these new abilities, the four must train themselves and fight off the threats against them and against the world. 

    Fantastic Four is an uninspiring reimagining of one of the most enduring comics superhero teams. It is a huge disappointment, an epic fail as it fall shorts in bringing a convincing story and a technical masterpiece. For a film which started so slowly, it is discomforting to watch it take a hasty climax and a sudden frivolous ending. It is quick to cut tensions, resulting to less solid and more energy-draining moments. With the Planet Zero’s green-lave oozes, Reed’s creepy body twerks, and Ben being thrown with stones inside the shuttle, the film’s special effects are lazy, terrible and sloppy, maybe except with the CGI-leaden climax which is also far from being cinematic. Being dark is not helpful as the film is just too heavy, gloomy and joyless. Dialogues are generic and the film’s generally humourless atmosphere makes it less watchable.

    As the movie explores the origin of Fantastic Four, it can be expected that audience will have deeper understanding of the heroes after watching it, making them invest greater emotions and respect. But damned, there is no character development in the present film as it is crowded with scientific blubbers and mindless conversations. Back stories are underdeveloped and actual relationships are poorly established. Reed is simply a geek throughout while Sue is talented in picking up patterns in music. Johnny is an erratic person, alternating between being a bitter son, trying-to-be-nice brother and a loyal friend. Ben suffers the most. After being left behind by Reed when the latter attends school, he is again betrayed when his supposed best-friend leaves him in the facility grappling with his new looks. Except for some initial shocks, the film never actually considered his emotional turmoil and struggles. Considering their differences which the film fails to make a persuasive reconciliation, the team lack chemistry and connection.

    Teller, Mara and Jordan are all compelling actors but the movie seems to discredit their talents. Teller has not gone beyond being a dull genius, Mara an introverted computer wiz and Jordan a tiring personality. Bell, with his short screen time and apparently inferior role, is much wasted. 

    Fantastic Four feels like a sheer disgrace to fans and enthusiasts. It is depressing, incoherent and terribly bad. Both the narrative and the characters are inadequately developed. Considering how unsatisfactory it is, it is hard to look forward to future sequels.


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