Saturday, August 8, 2015

Fantastic Four review

Sometimes a commercial premise for a story will "doom" a movie. And unfortunately, the latest reboot of the superhero team , Fantastic Four, suffers from such treatment.The big problem with film is that it is inspired by the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic book series. (Comics Alliance, "Fox's Fantastic Four reboot: What the FF?" February 20, 2014) That series re-imagined the Fantastic Four as much younger people.

I can imagine how the suits at Fox wanted to reboot the Fantastic Four. "Well we have this Marvel franchise. Got to reach the young kids who go to the movies. Hey, check out the box office for The Hunger Games. Can we make the Four younger? Wait. Check out the Ultimate Fantastic Four comics. Voila, we got box office gold." Well, going for the bucks sometimes dumbs down the story.

You see the big problem with this reboot of the 2005 movie is that it's unbelievable. I'm supposed to believe that a bunch of kids, Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), at a science fair have developed a way to transport matter to an another dimension. Reed is recruited by Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg Cathey) to work at his lab to work on a transporter being developed by Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell) and his daughter, Sue Storm. (Kate Mara) Look, I know brilliant high school kids. But to believe a bunch of kids can build a matter teleportation device that can warp people to another dimension is ridiculous. Kids don't have the scientific, and life experience to do something like this. Imagine high school kids building the first nuclear bomb. You get the picture. In the older version of the Fantastic Four, Richards has a doctorate and white hair.

Anyway, the government tells Dr. Storm and the kids that they are going to use real astronauts to send them to the other dimension which has a planet they call Zero. Richards, Grimm, Doom and Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) who is Sue's brother believe they won't get credit for their work and decide to go to the planet. Okay, the first thing that does feel real. High school kids doing stupid things. You can guess what happens. The kids transport to the planet and things go bad. Doom gets stranded. Sue Storm tries to get them back. The machine explodes on the trip back altering Richards, Grimm and both Storms. Richards can stretch to extraordinary lengths, Grimm is a rock monster called the Thing has super strength, Sue Storm can turn invisible and create force fields and Johnny can turn into a human torch who can fly.

The government whisks them away to Area 57. Ha. Ha. It's Area 51, guys. But I digress. Richards escapes. But they use Grimm for military operations. The Storms are also being groomed for service. Of course, if you know anything about the Fantastic Four, you know Doom is coming back. And he's not bringing flowers.

Rebooting the Four as kids has created problems with the casting. You must find young actors who can act. Miles Teller is not mature enough to exhibit much emotion. He's like the rock that encases The Thing. And yes, I will say it. Casting an African American to play Johnny Storm who's white in the comic books is wrong. First, he's the sister of Sue Storm, a blonde white woman. You're going to have to explain how they can be siblings. Well, the movie does, but it's wasted energy by the audience trying to see the sibling relationship. Second, imagine if Johnny were originally black. And if they cast a white man to play him. Yes, there would be an uproar by the pc police. To be fair, it must go both ways. Third, Michael Jordan who plays Johnny is just as bad as Teller. He's also a talking rock. The only actors who do well are Kate Mara, Toby Kebbell, and Jamie Bell. Mara as Sue Storm is smart, resourceful and sexy. Bell's "The Thing" which is created by CGI works because he gets the pain he feels after being transformed into something that doesn't look human anymore. Toby Kebbell's Doom is the best Doom ever. He's vicious, evil and downright scary.

Director Josh Trank is not a bad director but he's let down by very bad script. Simon Kinberg
Jeremy Slater and Trank wrote this mess. As stated above, using kids as the Four just strains credibility. Second, Planet Zero which has much of the action is not very interesting which makes a large chunk of the movie uninteresting. Third, it takes more than half the movie to get to the point where the Four use their powers for good. While it's good to show how they got their powers, it shouldn't take more than an hour to get to the "Fantastic Four." Finally, I know there's a trend for superhero movies to be grittier, and more realistic. But that can drain the fun and joy out of them. This Fantastic Four movie is just hapless. There's very little humor that the franchise had. And the only time I laughed was when they got Area 51's name wrong. I got no joy watching Johnny Storm fly, Sue Storm turn invisible, or Reed Richards stretch. There was no heroism until the final act of the movie.

Fox should think twice about a sequel to this movie. Rebooting again would also be a problem as you would be asking audiences to watch another reboot within about three years. They should just recast and do an original Fantastic Four movie set within the original Marvel universe. In that case, you'll need a short exposition to reintroduce the characters. Until then if you want to see a good Fantastic Four movie, go watch "The Incredibles." (2004) The grade is C.

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