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Movie Review

To most parents, it would probably seem completely insane to leave a 10-year-old boy alone in the garage, playing with a patched-together contraption of transistors and tinfoil that's conducting hundreds of watts of electricity. But Reed Richards' folks are kinda different that way.

Even when he and his helpful friend Ben Grimm blow out the power grid for the entire neighborhood, well, his mom and stepdad just thump the TV, scratch their heads and wonder what happened to the football game they were watching.

And so, the fantastic business of young science marches on.

Jump ahead four years (OK, it's really 8) and teens Reed and Ben have pretty much cracked the code on Reed's biggest brainchild: a Bio-Matter Shuttle. (Or you might call it a people transporter beam-sorta-thingy if you're a layman ... or Reed's parents.) Yeah, the guys are still blowing things up. And they're still piecing together scrap bits from Ben's family's junkyard.

That all changes when a scientist by the name of Dr. Franklin Storm approaches the boys at their school science fair and offers Reed everything he needs to truly build his invention in high style. It seems that brilliant minds at someplace called the Baxter Foundation have been working on this very concept for years, with little success. But Reed somehow jury-rigged it with junk in his garage. So now he's the Dude.

Oh, and there's something about Reed's creation that even he didn't realize: Not only did he create a molecular matter transporter, but it's also an interdimensional matter transporter. With the right adjustments, mankind will be able to travel to other dimensions and find energy sources never dreamed of before. Reed has to jump at the chance now. Why, his invention could be the means of rescuing our entire environmentally ravaged world!

And there's yet another bonus in the mix. Not only will Reed be working alongside young geniuses like Victor Von Doom, he'll be working very closely with a rather pretty young genius named Sue Storm. For a girlfriend-free science geek like Reed, well, that's just, sorta, you know, aw-shucks super.

Once Sue's brother, Johnny, and Reed's pal, Ben, join the team, why, who knows how far they can go or what they'll accomplish!

The result could be incredible.

The world will see their efforts as phenomenal.

They might even start calling this team fantastic.

Positive Elements

Frankly, there are a number of less-than-fantastic self-centered choices made in this pic. However, Reed states that he isn't interested in fame. Rather, he wants to do something that will make a difference for all mankind. He also voices concern for his teammates and eventually steps forward to lead them out of a deadly situation. Indeed, in their first foray as the Fantastic Four, Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben work together to protect one another and defeat a powerful foe. Dr. Storm speaks of his love for his children and his passionate desire to help Earth survive after years of humans' bent toward wanton destruction.

Spiritual Content

Early on, Dr. Storm talks about a discovered alternate dimension—dubbed Earth Zero—that represents our planet from a billion years ago. He believes it holds answers to "questions about the origins of our species." The villain Victor Von Doom later gains god-like powers from that place and moves to reshape it to his own liking and image.

Sexual Content

Reed crawls naked through an air duct. (We see him primarily from the waist up.) Sue wears a formfitting suit.

Violent Content

As everyone knows, Reed and Co. do make it through to Earth Zero and gain superpowers. That happens after Victor accidentally creates a cataclysmic upheaval of a bubbling energy source on the planet's surface that appears to consume him, reduce Johnny to a burning lump of flesh and bone, smother Ben under an avalanche of rock, crush Reed's legs and zap Sue with a energy blast that sends her flying.

Later, Victor reappears with his flesh seared away and his environmental suit fused into his body, officially turning him into Dr. Doom. This hyper-powerful meanace blows out walls and windows, killing people with a thought. He makes a man's skin blister and boil until the poor chap erupts in a gush of blood, sets another's flesh to smoldering and causes many screaming people's heads to explode and gush fountains of gore that splash nearby surfaces as the victims fall. He's not done, through. He creates a black hole that sucks up a building, a jetliner, a mountain landscape and scores of innocents.

We see films of Ben, now the rocky Thing, smashing tanks, bashing people and generally demolishing everything around him with Hulk-ish rage. Reed thumps and tosses enemies with his stretchy rubber-like appendages. Johnny blazes away with fire blasts. (He also gets into a car crash, cutting his face and breaking his arm.) We learn that Ben got his "It's Clobberin' Time" catchphrase from an abusive older brother who slapped him around as a boy.

Victor suggests that the military should use their discovered alternate dimension to torture political prisoners.

Crude or Profane Language

A half-dozen s-words join two or three uses each of "a--," "h---" and "d--n." God's name is misused six or eight times, once or twice in combination with "d--n." A guy is called a "d--k." Someone flips his middle finger.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Reed, Victor and Johnny all get drunk while passing around a flask.

Other Negative Elements

Johnny drives recklessly in a street race and then lies to his father about it. Several team members disobey rules set by Dr. Storm (creating a disastrous situation in the process).

Conclusion

Fantastic Four has all the nuts and bolts and moving parts of a fun modern superhero movie—from attractive stars to CGI bombast. But it's a super-suited tin man in need of a heart. It's hard to care about these "kids." It's hard to cheer them on. It's hard to hear them swear. It's hard to learn any sort of lesson about bravery or self-sacrifice.

So we're left to focus on an earful of despairing declarations of how we've wrecked our planet, an eyeful of only somewhat good guys who can't seem to keep from stumbling over their own rocky or elasticized feet, and a gut full of gotta-make-him-meaner villain battles where landscapes are pulverized and people blister and blow up in chunks.

Turns out, I guess, that a box of rocks, wrapped in super-stretchy rubber, set on fire and levitated with a force field ... is still a box of rocks.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

PG-13

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Miles Teller as Reed Richards; Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm; Kate Mara as Sue Storm; Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm/The Thing; Toby Kebbell as Victor Von Doom/Dr. Doom; Reg E. Cathey as Dr. Franklin Storm; Tim Blake Nelson as Dr. Allen

Director

Josh Trank ( Chronicle)

Distributor

20th Century Fox

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

August 7, 2015

On Video

December 15, 2015

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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