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By Felix Vasquez Jr. | August 16, 2006

“Zoom” is a film I can only describe simply as “X-Men” sans the intellect and atmosphere. Sure to many, Ratner’s installment still holds that title, but Sony so aggressively seeks to market off of the superhero craze, and the success of “Sky High”, that they never really take into consideration anything resembling a story and just grabs from the aforementioned property on a regular basis.

And it really wants to be thought of as a true comic book movie, though, enlisting a classic comic book story arc, and beginning with an opening montage of comic panels setting up the story (It didn’t work for “Ultraviolet”, and it won’t work for this), and this little gimmick never really helps to break it out of the simple sugary Disney formula; hell, there’s even a goofy robot sidekick.

“Zoom” never establishes its characters beyond their basic concepts, because it’s so intent on speeding through its story, pun not intended, that it never bothers to try and get the audience to relate to the characters. The characters simply end up manifesting their powers by accident a la “X-Men” and they seem to be having fun doing so. And we’re left still trying to find a reason to root for them, because they really have no personality or back story, or unique traits.

Little Cindy has super-strength, Summer has telepathy (the Jean Grey archetype), Dylan can turn invisible (The Scott Summers archetype), and Tucker can expand any part of his body like a balloon (Mr. Fantastic), a power that is depicted through awfully amateurish CGI. That’s all we know, and that’s all they want us to know. No one is horrified, no one views them as potentially dangerous and no one calls the authorities. And that’s what made “X-Men” so grounded in reality: Powerful mutants in the age of terrorism means mass hysteria. But not in the world of “Zoom”.

Tim Allen, in his umpteenth family film, plays Zoom, a likable speeding superhero who is called back into his career after almost thirty years of retirement. He’s called upon the government to re-open the Zenith Program to enlist the help of a team of young children with superpowers. Yes, the writers crib from the essential concept of “X-Men”, featuring a danger room, a special craft they fly in, and there’s a villain named Concussion arriving in only a matter of days looking to settle a score. Allen’s ability to be both like a father and as an equal works in his favor, but his act as the disgruntled superhero wears awfully thin by the second half.

And children waiting for the action packed climax will be disappointed for sure, as Kevin Zegers, who happens to be pretty imposing as the resident villain, only appears for the last twelve minutes, and there’s barely any fighting or feuding that ever really takes place. “Zoom” fails because it’s ultimately bland, cheesy, and never really challenges its own formula seeking to make it one of a kind; it just wants to cash-in on an already exhausting fad.

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