Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fantastic 4 (Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara)

(Yes folks, I have finally labeled a film as an UTTER DISAPPOINTMENT.  Here's why...)
Writer: Jeremy Slater, Simon Kinberg, Josh Trank
Director: Josh Trank
Starring: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell
Nothing Fantastic About This
I really, really, wanted to like this. But this movie was awful.  Trank's Chronicle was a fantastic introduction to this writer/director's work, but there was nothing fantastic about this film about the Fantastic 4.  From the uninteresting writing, to the dull acting, to the less than spectacular visual effects and stunts ......just a lackluster mess.
Opening with young Reed Richards and his best friend Ben Grimm experimenting in Reed's garage with his "cymatic matter shuttle", seriously the most exciting portion of the film was when these two precocious little boys blackout a whole neighborhood for the sake of science. After that, the whole movie is like watching a tire with a slow leak go completely flat.
The cast seemed promising: Reed Richards (Miles Teller of Whiplash and The Divergent Series fame), Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station and That Awkward Moment), Sue Storm (Kate Mara, "House of Cards"), Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell, Snowpiercer and "TURN: Washington's Spies"), and Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell, The East and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes).  Several other character actor veterans have their turns in the piece, but their contributions were muted by a slim plot.  They just did not have much to work with.
Basically, five young geniuses are recruited to create a machine that can transport personnel between dimensions.  The director of the program, the overly emotional Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) is driven by a desire to mine new resources that would help replenish or sustain Earth.  Meanwhile, Von Doom points out morbidly that Earth is screwed and does not deserve saving.

As the movie swims through cliché montages, it becomes clear these geniuses are seemingly less interested in the eco-mission and more interested in welding, drawing on boards, looking at screens of meaningless data (not one easter egg that I could spot).  Nothing is fully explained.  Relationships are weakly arranged.  All the actors employ monotone and expressionless faces.  There is no chemistry established, no love story.  I ended up not caring about any of them.  Not even The Thing.  Weirdly enough, Ben does not show up again until the beginning of the second act, making his inclusion in the story seem completely inconsequential.  (For that matter, I am appalled at the treatment of The Thing as basically a caricature of The Incredible Hulk we see portrayed in the Avengers series.)  And do not get me started on Sue Storm's horrendously bleached hair after transformation.
Fantastic 4 deserves a BURNT POPCORN rating from me because, with the wealth of story and talent that could have been tapped to create something great, we were given an awkward, emo mess.  Utter disappointment.  I would suggest popping in the 2005 version of Fantastic 4 - despite Jessica Alba - because at least that one was fun, the cast had chemistry, Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm was perfect, and Stan Lee put his stamp on it with his signature cameo.  Stan Lee was nowhere to be found in this one.

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