Wednesday 5 August 2015

Fantastic Four ... Fantastically dull

I'M having a hard time finding inspiration to comment on Fantastic Four, a reboot of the series from 2005 and 2007.  It is so painfully slow to watch during the first two-thirds of the film. The film finally comes alive in the final few minutes when there are explosions and editing is faster.
  Even the ending isn't exciting. The baddie, Victor Von Doom, who appeared in the 2005 film, has been stuck on a faraway planet for more than a year. After the Fantastic Four find him, his idea of destroying Earth is to suck up chunks of Earth and transport them to his new planet for energy through an intergalactic hole.

   This, of course, is a reversal of the ending in Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2009) and Man of Steel (2013), in which aliens and baddies create a hole to bring their planets into Earth's atmosphere. Well, they're nearly similar.
   I see two themes at work in the film. The first is about the gang needing to work together as a team to create the transporter that will take them to the new planet.
   Since they've just met, they will be seen working and eating Chinese food together, with Reed (Miles Teller of Whiplash and Insurgent) leading the pack of Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), Sue Storm (Kate Mara), Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) and Victor (Toby Kebbell).
   This theme is revisited at the end when the four, excluding Victor, realise they can beat their nemesis only if they pool their resources.
   The Thing says that Dr Doom is stronger than each of them, but Reed says they can beat him together. Aah, such nice camaraderie. Did I mention something about Victor having a crush on Sue, but the latter's interested in Reed?
  Also, it's Johnny's dad, Dr Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey), who's working for a corporation that's interested in tapping another planet's energy, that assembles the team.
   Dad and son have a tense relationship, none more so when dad has to bail his son out of jail after an illegal racing infraction.
   Franklin, who's black, also adopted white Sue. He calls the five of them "children" and he may be seen as the father figure of the pack.
   The second theme is when Franklin and Victor have a lightweight conversation about finding energy for Earth. Victor says it's the present generation that's responsible for Earth's energy problems, but Franklin says the five newbies can fix this problem by going to the faraway planet.
   Victor is pretty much a nondescript character, but he gets jealous when he sees Reed and Kate getting it on with each other.
    Reed the  kid is a precocious geek who invents things in his garage and who's smarter than his insecure science teacher. His best friend is Ben, who's hit by his elder brother, who's then hit by their mother. It's no wonder that he grows up and becomes something whose forte is to hit people.
   Ben's the least known of the five teens, and soon after, he's The Thing.
  The film's problem is that it takes too long to set up the conflict. We get stories about Reed's childhood, him at a science fair, him joining the corporation's trainee programme, and him quizzing Sue about her background.
  Then more time is spent on the four as they become accustomed to their new powers.
   There's a sense of wonderment between Reed and Ben when the latter accompanies the former to his varsity digs at the corporation's building. Ben tells Reed that the latter belongs among the New York skyscrapers. They may be best friends but Reed's definitely the smarter one.
    Another problem is the antagonist. We know little about him, except that he returns towards the end and wreaks havoc among earthlings.
   The film's setting is mainly divided into two: the first is at the corporation's huge research centre, and the second, the rocky and dusty faraway planet, which looks like other sci-fi planets.

2 out of 5 stars

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