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Review: Fantastic Four

By now, even the most casual of movie fans is certainly attuned to superhero origin stories, particularly those forced into existence because a studio needs to retain the rights to a franchise. Such is the case with 20th Century Fox latest reboot Fantastic Four, which runs nervous and scared. It knows it can’t complete with its fellow cinematic features, dumbing down everything down in the process.

Among those unnecessary elements in this meek, muddled spectacle is a character who should already be dead delivering words of wisdom with a last breath; another explaining that four fighters are stronger than one (they’re a team!), and one more than needs to tell everyone a black hole is about to happen. I suppose it works well if the film is playing, but you’re on your phone the entire time and not really watching and only occasionally listening.

Unfortunately, director Josh Trank’s reboot, despite its likeable cast (Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell as the foursome), lacks confidence, letting themes about friendship, family, and discovery fall between the cracks. Oh, and never mind that a most pivotal, universe-alternating decision made in the film is fueled by petulance, alcohol, and fame, yet unaddressed when things go wrong.

However, most things go unexplained; teleportation might be the most plausible part of the entire experience. As a child, the prodigious Reed Richards is dead-set on creating a device that transports matter from one spot to another; somehow his invention, which takes about eight years to perfect and is aided by a brawny best friend Ben, goes unnoticed by everyone save for a wise entrepreneur named Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) who works at some research centre.

Thus, at the end of high school, Reed (Teller) is enlisted and suddenly becomes the leader of this quantum project. He is joined with similar young sparks; Storm’s adopted daughter Sue (Mara), his reckless son Johnny (Jordan) who apparently is uniquely qualified to help out, and a rogue intellectual named Victor (Toby Kebbel).

The quintet messes around, with an occasional stolen glance to or from Sue; as really the only woman with a speaking part, she has to be the object of some affection and jealousy. However, even this subplot is gingerly touched upon and then ignored.

In fact, Fantastic Four is all subplots, mashed together awkwardly and weakly, relying on tropes established in far better films. A talented cast is the only thing holding a movie together (with stretched arms, perhaps) that features more strained dialogue and empty exposition than it does charm or action. At least at a running time of one hour and 45 minutes, the nonsense doesn’t last too long. At least until the next film.

[star v=15]

Anthony Marcusa

A pop-culture consumer, Anthony seeks out what is important in entertainment and mocks what is not. Inspired by history, Anthony writes with the hope that someone, somewhere, might be affected.