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Review: Nothing fantastic about 'Fantastic Four'

Miles Teller stars as Reed Richards, a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic, in "Fantastic Four." (Photo courtesy 20th Century Fox/TNS)
Published Aug. 6, 2015

Someone at Marvel needs to rethink the company's policy on using adjectives. There is nothing fantastic about Fantastic Four, the same way Spider-Man hasn't been amazing lately, and Hulk barely incredible.

Fantastic Four, however, has a unique strategy to milk fanboy debit cards: 90 minutes of YA pseudo-science and hardly any action, setting up a sequel that isn't likely to occur. It is undoubtably the dullest Marvel superhero movie in the post-Iron Man era, both in adventure and creative design. Nothing much happens, and it's ugly when it does.

A movie is beyond repair when the best it can offer as an alternate dimension looks like the worst golf course in the galaxy.

Josh Trank's reboot of Marvel's first superhero bunch is younger than the previous incarnation a decade ago. Which means several promising careers are put on hold while young actors who'll wise up strike force-field poses, grimacing at green screen meanies that aren't there.

Sooner or later this happens to all rising stars, so perhaps its best that Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell and Kate Mara get it out of the way now.

Teller, a former Lecanto resident, takes the lead as Reed Richards, a brainiac experimenting with teleportation since grade school science fairs. Bell plays his best friend and parts supplier, Ben Grimm. Their work attracts the attention of Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey), who's so top secret he works at Area 57. That's six more than the place where aliens are stored.

Storm wants Reed and eventually Ben to merge research with his street racer son, Johnny (Jordan), and adopted daughter, Sue (Mara), both brilliant, of course.

Even a temporary fifth member doesn't make this group fantastic. Toby Kebbell is the archly named Victor Von Doom, whose crush on Sue and jealousy of Reed's research will eventually lead to that other dimension, and a plot to vacuum all of Earth through a wormhole. Apparently there's a lot of closet space in alternate dimensions.

An earlier trip through the Quantum Gate leads to Victor taking a cosmic acid bath and the rest being bombarded with whatzit rays, giving everyone super powers. Johnny gets the coolest, flaming on and flying. Sue becomes invisible and makes travel bubbles for everyone else. Reed becomes elastic (although the talent isn't used much), and Ben is a walking rockpile.

Trank's movie spends most of its time debating whether these newfound powers will be used as weapons or for mankind's benefit. Squarely on the weapons side is Dr. Allen (Tim Blake Nelson, madly chewing gum to bring some sort of energy to this movie).

Fantastic Four is so mediocre that its title seems like a violation of truth in advertising laws. And if anyone walks away completely satisfied, it's truly a Marvel.

Contact Steve Persall at spersall@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.

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