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Four years too late

Fantastic Four
Genre: Superheroes
Director: Tim Story
Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon
Storyline: About how four scientists and a rich businessman wield the extraordinary powers given by a mysterious cloud in space.
Bottomline: Mere cardboard cut-outs

The film traces the origins of the Fantastic Four and their arch rival Dr. Doom. However, the film falls into the trap of endless exposition with very little payoff.

Coming to terms with their powers, their celebrity status on earth and uniting them into a team consumes most of the film. Rather than battling the villains, they argue and bicker with one another, their families and their old friends.

Each one is a cardboard cut-out: the nerdy scientist, the reckless youth, the gruff tough-guy, the sensitive girl and the slimy businessman. The complexity present in the best superhero films, and in the original comics seems to have been washed away. The direction and script are so weak that the actors seem uninspired and the scenes seem just thrown together.

The only significant action in the first three quarters of the film involves the team causing a massive pile-up on a freeway that forces them to rescue five persons, while the resulting car crashes injure about a hundred people. And, despite all the money spent on special effects, when the battle scenes finally do arrive they somehow seem cheap and amateurish, lifted from another era.

In short, ``Fantastic Four" comes at least four years too late. Had this movie been released before all those classic superhero films, perhaps it would have mildly amused us.

Sure, the movie is ok. It has harmless, unassuming action. The story tries to weave in family conflict, the corruption of power and the cult of celebrity. The acting is more than passable.

Overall, the movie is not atrocious, nor offensively awful. It is just tolerable. But in today's world, when the standard for the genre has been set so high, adequate just doesn't cut it. A superhero film has to be, well, super.

TEJAS EWING

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