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Movie Review: Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four was a film with serious potential featuring: Chronicle's exciting director, Josh Trank, accomplished screenwriters including X-Men's Simon Kinsberg and an up-and-coming cast with Whiplash's Miles Teller, Fruitvale Station's Michael B. Jordan, it-girl Kate Mara, Toby "Koba" Kebbell and even that kid from Billy Elliot. When stars collide... it's either a magical union or a black hole.

Fantastic Four doesn't live up to its name. In fact, it doesn't even live up to the serviceable 2005 original in which Chris Evans set fire to his superhero career as Johnny Storm, Ioan Gruffudd got closer to people putting a how-do-you-say-it name to a face, Jessica Alba played global peek-a-boo and Michael Chiklis got even chunkier.

Josh Trank committed "Twittercide" when he tweeted that his version didn't get the green light before its opening weekend. While we can certainly sympathise with the behind-the-scenes creative differences and film studio politics, the end result is a promising yet dull affair that gets progressively worse as the green screen "magic" becomes more and more obvious and lethargic.

Fantastic Four starts with a very science-fiction heavy agenda, moving an origins story from science fair to science lair in its own time as another dimension is discovered and affects our scientist explorers in different ways.

Fantastic Four Movie Review

"No literally... I, rock."

Initially, we latch onto the characters, whose Smallville style interpersonal relationships help move the story along as we discover them and how they interlock personally and professionally. There's space for chemistry and Fantastic Four seems intent on driving the film with characters instead of special effects... to a point.

While there are light-hearted moments, the atmosphere is depressing as though Fantastic Four's dog died. The actors have a knack for comedy, but instead of fun there's a sense of impending doom, which is ironic, when Victor von Doom can't even take the credit. The story ramps up like Chronicle did as the characters discover the catalyst that unites and separates them, but ultimately it's a failure to launch.

The camaraderie isn't there and by the time they start acting like a team, you're at odds with the characters and don't really care what happens. The special effects are okay for a TV series and it's like Josh Trank was given a similar budget to Chronicle as things degenerate. Without much opposition, it's a matter of going through the motions and by the time Dr. Doom arrives for a glorified cameo... we're already sifting through the wreckage for survivors.

Fantastic Four could have and should have been so much more. It's a pity that film politics ruined what could have been, and a tragedy that they weren't able to reinvigorate a misfire superhero franchise. It's an unnecessary revamp that will remain a guilty curiosity for sci-fi geeks but mostly a disappointment for everyone else.

The bottom line: Misfire

Talking Movies with Spling - Mommy, Woman in Gold and Top Five

Spling reviews Mommy, Woman in Gold and Top Five as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Catch Talking Movies on Fridays at 8:20am and Saturdays at 8:15am every week on Fine Music Radio.

Movie Review: Ant-Man

The classic sci-fi adventure, The Incredible Shrinking Man, wowed audiences in 1957 for its cutting edge blend of otherworldly proportions. Now more than 50 years later, we're getting another little-big sci-fi adventure with a hero named Scott, which is just as spectacular and entertaining.

The latest Marvel superhero movie was originally set to be directed by Edgar Wright, whose credits include Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. After much media hype, he dropped out after Disney acquired Marvel and was replaced by Peyton Reed. While Wright was replaced, he's still credited as a screenwriter, injecting some of his creative energy into the film with help from Joe Cornish, Adam McKay and Paul Rudd.

Ant-Man isn't your typical Marvel superhero film. It's smaller in scope, aptly so, and mimics Guardians of the Galaxy in terms of its dark horse status and overall entertainment mix. It's an elusive movie, sidestepping any one genre and settling in the realm of sci-fi action adventure and crime comedy heist caper.

Paul Rudd stars as Scott Lang, a cat burglar who is recruited by scientist and original Ant-Man, Dr. Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas. The Daniel/Mr. Miyagi pairing are charming, armed with that glint-in-the-eye cheek and complement each other as they scheme to pull off a heist that will save the world with the help of Pym's incredible shrinking super-suit.

Ant-Man Movie Review

"Move over Bravestarr... STRENGTH of the ANT!"

Rudd is probably as unlikely a superhero as Robert Downey Jr. was in the build-up to Iron Man. Yet, it's his off-handedly funny, awkwardly unassuming and self-deprecating spirit that drives the film. He's constantly downplaying his ability and landing himself in ridiculous situations, which are made all the more funny thanks to the visual proportions of shrinking and unshrinking at the press of a button.

He stars opposite Hollywood veteran, Michael Douglas, who apparently wanted to be in a superhero film for his kids. The film-makers decided that Hank Pym's dark history wouldn't really work for the light-hearted tone they were going for, making the Lang transplant essential. Rudd generates good on-screen chemistry opposite Douglas with some competitive jibes next to the pretty and plucky Evangeline Lilly.

Ant-Man's a wildly entertaining film, maintaining a fun tone with a sense of wonder and self-reflective hilarity. The visuals are mesmerising and imaginative, the pacing keeps you on-the-hook and the performances are well-balanced. At one moment you're enthralled by an epic scene of our ant-size hero riding an army of ants to battle only for the film-makers to zoom out for comedic effect.

This is a funny, smart and visually-arresting action comedy adventure and sci-fi heist thriller with elements that will appeal to just about everyone.

The bottom line: Entertaining

Talking Movies with Spling - Ant-Man, Thina Sobabili and The Angriest Man in Brooklyn

Spling reviews Ant-Man, Thina Sobabili and The Angriest Man in Brooklyn as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Catch Talking Movies on Fridays at 8:20am and Saturdays at 8:15am every week on Fine Music Radio.

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