Fantastic Four (2015) parents guide

Fantastic Four (2015) Parent Review

Overall B-

How fantastic will The Four be this time? In this reboot of the franchise, the superheroes are played by Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell. But they will still be facing the same old problem of trying to save the world.

Violence D+
Sexual Content A-
Profanity C
Substance Use C+

Fantastic Four (2015) is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, and language.

Movie Review

Reed Richards (Owen Judge) and Ben Grimm (Evan Hannemann) are grade school chums who manage to build a device that can transport a small object to some unknown destination and then bring it back. At a high school science fair a few years later the miracle leaves their teachers unimpressed, however it does catch the attention of Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg Cathey), the director of a government sponsored research program for young prodigies. He is intrigued to discover these young men have figured out the missing piece for a stalled project his team has been working on.

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Certain he can convince the board to resume funding for the “Quantum Gate”, Storm offers Reed (Miles Teller) and Ben (Jamie Bell) a scholarship at the Baxter Foundation where they are invited to help complete the experiment. Although Ben declines, Reed enthusiastically accepts and is soon working with Storm’s scientist daughter Sue (Kate Mara) and lab technician son Johnny (Michael B. Jordan). The doctor also brings back an expelled student named Victor Von Doom (Tony Kebbell) because the rebellious young adult is the original brain behind the matter-moving machine.

In short order the team pulls together to create a transporter big enough to send a life form to the mysterious destination. After a chimpanzee returns alive, the group is convinced the device is ready for human travel. And they want to be first to explore what they are sure is a new world in a different dimension. However, their success has been brought to the attention of the bureaucrats who now demand the project be turned over to NASA.

Of course Reed, Johnny and Victor are not happy with that suggestion. After a late night round of drinking, the boys make the impulsive decision to use the transporter without permission. Bringing Ben along, the guys strap themselves in and head out on the adventure of a lifetime. ‘

It turns out getting there is easier than expected. Full of pride at their achievement, the gang can’t help but take a selfie. Nor can they resist the urge to do a little exploring of the new realm. Yet in their eagerness they make contact with a strange energy force so powerful that only three of them manage to make it back. Victor is left for dead. And upon their return, Sue is also exposed to the remains of the powerful surge.

Like a box of assorted chocolates, the experience affects each person very individually, leaving them with a unique ability (or disability, depending on how you look at it). Reed has limbs with elastic-like stretch. Johnny’s body perpetually combusts into flames. Sue has two much cooler tricks: She can disappear or generate a bubble-like force field. And Ben, the most altered, has been turned into a nearly indestructible rock monster. The military is quick to look for ways to exploit these new capabilities until a new and more formidable foe emerges.

The latter portion of the script is consumed with a showdown between this ultimate villain and the four fledgling super heroes. The resulting violence includes fighting with physical and metaphysical forces, along with scenes of destruction, deaths and injuries. Some of these depictions are quite graphic, such as when a cold, hard stare causes victims’ heads to explode, splattering blood. Or, a hostile glare causes the recipients to slowly burn until just their chard body remains. Other bystanders get off a little more easily, only being crushed or blown over, then crumpling into lifeless corpses. Meanwhile, messages about teamwork and the importance of an education (despite naysayers) seem too subtle to really be valuable. These shortcomings, along with periodic scatological slang and other profanities, constitute a few reasons why parents may want to be cautious about who views the film.

This isn’t the first time this quartet has been given the big-screen treatment. A decade ago we were introduced to this Marvel Comics’ series, with the Fantastic Four and its follow-up movie, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer—so the decision to tell an “origin story” again feels unnecessary. Short on action and with a plodding plot that seems to only exist as a setup for future installments, the 2015 version of these characters is a little short of fantastic.

Directed by Josh Trank. Starring Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell. Running time: 100 minutes. Theatrical release August 7, 2015. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Fantastic Four (2015) here.

Fantastic Four (2015) Parents Guide

Dr. Franklin Storm encourages his students to use their talents to fix the mistakes of his generation. What problems does the world face because of the poor judgement of older adults? Do you think the young people of today can change those things? What hope do you hold for the Earth’s future?

Each of the intelligent young people involved in the experiment have reason to be proud of their abilities. Why might their egos cause unhealthy competition? How could this make it difficult for them to work as a team? What problems do arise when they decide they want recognition for their efforts?

This movie contains depictions of cynical and mocking teachers. While this only increases Reed’s determination to succeed, how does it affect Ben?  Why do you think he choose not to attend the Baxter Institute? Is it a refection of how he feels about his own intelligence? How might stories featuring extraordinary people make “Average Joes” feel about the value or attainability of their own education? Why is school important even if you are not gifted?

From the Studio:
THE FANTASTIC FOUR, a contemporary re-imagining of Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero team, centers on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy. © Fox

More About the Movie:
Twentieth Century Fox is feeling so positive about the box-office potential of this movie, that they have already slated a sequel for it: The Fantastic Four 2, to open in June of 2017.

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