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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Fantastic Four | Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Reg E. Cathey, Jamie Bell, Michael P. Jordan, Toby Kebbell, Tim Blake Nelson | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
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Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
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Fantastic Four | Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Reg E. Cathey, Jamie Bell, Michael P. Jordan, Toby Kebbell, Tim Blake Nelson | Review


The origins of the Marvel quartet are explored in this reboot by 20th Century Fox (not Marvel Studios) so do not look for an Easter egg after the credits, an appearance by Stan Lee, or space travel.  Do not look for a snappy pace or a sense of humor.
Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) tried to construct a teleporter as kids back in 2007.  Their current high school science project results in the recruitment of Reed to the Baxter Institute – a scientific research organization that seeks out prodigies - by one Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey).
Cathey’s adopted daughter Susan (Kate Mara) and son Johnny (Michael B. Jordan) also work for the Institute, along with troubled protégé, Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell).  Reed joins the team to complete Victor’s work on Quantum Gate, an inter-dimensional portal, recruiting Ben along the way.
Reed, Ben, Johnny, and Victor commandeer the QG and embark on an unauthorized journey to Planet Zero, an alternate reality resembling a mountainous, irradiated volcanic landscape that spews green “lava” when disrupted.  The inevitable team-induced disruption is cataclysmic, and no one leaves unchanged; Victor doesn’t leave at all.
An emergency rescue of the other three by Susan back at the Institute results in a dose of powerful Planet Zero shockwaves for her as well.  Johnny, Ben, Reed, and Susan discover that they have been altered.  Reed becomes elastic, Johnny is engulfed by flames that do not harm him, and Ben morphs into an enormously powerful talking rock pile.  Susan has the ability to become invisible and generate bubble-like force fields.
Guilt-ridden Reed escapes the Institute while the others, under government custody, learn to harness and develop their powers over the course of a year.  Where is the bureaucrat in all of this?  That would be Dr. Allen (Tim Blake Nelson) a guy with a ready smile and ulterior motive.
75 minutes of the 106-minute running time pass before the team finally coalesces to confront Doom (formerly Victor) who has been trapped on Planet Zero for a year and has literally become a part of it, absorbing its powers and a megalomaniacal wish to destroy Earth.  Quote:  “There is no Victor, there is only Doom.”  Chaos ensues along with the (relatively few) action shots of the team flexing its combined superpowers in an effort to vanquish the dark villain.
None of the stars is particularly charismatic, but Teller tries almost too hard to be the earnest Everyguy.  Mara is the absolute face of gravitas, usually delivering her lines in a monotone.  Jordan makes an effort at being a loose cannon of petulance, one of the only signs of chutzpah in the quartet.  Cathey corners the integrity market, while Bell and Kebbell are reduced to voices early on.  Nelson’s character is a mouthpiece for loads of lengthy exposition.
Director Josh Trank (Chronicle) helms a perpetually serious, often bland take on the group’s creation, sans any sense of fun or risk-taking.  You’d think that the birthday of Mr. Fantastic, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, and the Thing would deliver a bigger celebration.  Or at least the kind of presents you wouldn’t want to exchange for something else.

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