SYNOPSIS: FANTASTIC FOUR, a contemporary re-imagining of Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero team, centers on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.
What makes Fantastic Four not so intriguing on one side, but a little acceptable on the other is that for the first 80 minutes or so, there's nothing but dialogue and character development. There's no opening CGI flooding the screen, no exposition about where the heroes are or how they fit into the universe and very little of a romantic connection between certain characters. We are, instead, treated to an understanding of each character, on an individual basis, leading one to wonder when the action will ‘kick-off.’ Needless to say, as we have seen in the past, the minds behind this latest effort chose to use this iteration of the super-hero story as a launching pad for follow up releases and in such an obvious and careless manner.
The casting is pretty solid with Miles Teller (The Divergent Series: Insurgent, 2015) and on-screen adversary Toby Kebbell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, 2014) playing their parts with an interesting take; Their characters Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom aren't a cut-out hero and villain duo, they are essentially two sides of the same coin. That element might be somewhat familiar in some comic-book films of late, but here, it's quite convincing overall. Sexy Kate Mara (Transcendence, 2014) seems to bring her “A” game along with Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station, 2013) and Jamie Bell (Defiance, 2008) rounding out the casting balance.
As the hundred minute run-time plays on, there's the unmistakable sense that there is a better version of this film potentially locked away in a vault, somewhere, that will never see the light of day. The finale, which is essentially split into five minutes of a fantastic sci-fi action and ten minutes of a bland CGI fake-fest, really drives this point home.
For all the faults with Fantastic Four [and there are quite a few] it's hard not to have a measure of respect for the effort made by all. It seems to be trying to be something different to the usual comic-book fare we see so regularly nowadays. In my humble opinion, devoting time to good character development is something that's lacking in comic-book heroes today (though we have witnessed it in a few i.e. Iron-Man).
While not nearly the action-packed super-hero flick people seem to be expecting or hoping for, Fantastic Four should’ve and could’ve been better because there was potential in some of its story development. Instead, it ends up being a fairly standard superhero movie that uses part one merely for character development and rushes through a dismal climax in order to set a tone for a follow-up release. Three and a half stars is my being generous to the effort overall, but I wouldn’t urge fans to rush to theaters to view this one. It’s more like a weekend red-box rental for die-hard fans.
By Movi-Man Stan
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