Written by Michael France and Mark Frost
Directed by Tim Story
Running Time: 1:45
for sequences of intense action,
and some suggestive content.
Fantastic Four was a decent comic book movie but spent too much time getting to know the characters as opposed to actually having them do something.
Reed Richards and Ben Grimm are scientists who figure out that in the past a solar event ran through the Earth, changing the DNA of every living thing and helped to create humans as we know it today. Another solar even will happen very soon and they want to go into space to document it and see what they can learn. They go to Victor Von Doom, a scientist as well, but one in it for the money and fame, to finance them. Reed's old love Sue Storm now works for Doom and she and her brother Johnny join the team. Up in space all five are hit by solar radiation, changing them forever. Reed can stretch his body to unlimited lengths. Sue can become invisible. Johnny can turn his body into fire. And Ben is now a large orange block with tremendous strength. All but Johnny are scared by their new abilities and want to try and reverse the effect. Doom is also changing, but at a much slower pace, as he was a little better protected up in space. His company is falling apart around him, but with his new found powers, he figures he can get fame and fortune through less capitalistic means. But the Fantastic Four, as they are dubbed by the press, are out to stop him, no matter what it takes.
I have to say, I was a little disappointed by Fantastic Four. There are times when I see a movie where I feel like coming home and writing about it immediately. Usually this is because the movie was really good, or really, really bad. In this case however, I came home and didn't feel anything. And as I sit here a day later, the only thing I can really remember from the movie was that we got to see Jessica Alba in her underwear for a brief (no pun intended) moment. In essence the movie was a lot of fluff with no substance. The movie clocks in at 105 minutes, and the first 85 of that felt like a set-up for something else to happen. Almost like this movie was preparing the audience for a sequel, without giving them a lot in this film. The entire movie was spent getting to know the characters. Reed is all science and isn't good at love. Sue still loves him but doesn't want to wait to become first in his life ahead of the science. Ben is a family man but has to deal with the fact that he's now deformed. Johnny is reckless and loves that he can set himself on fire whenever he chooses. And Dr. Doom is an egomaniac bent on getting power by any means necessary. That's all great, but get that over with in the first half of the movie, then get on with a story for the second half.
I wasn't completely sold on all the actors. Actually, it was just Ioan Gruffudd that I didn't care for. His Mr. Fantastic was much too wishy-washy for my liking. Chris Evans was entertaining as the Human Torch, Michael Chiklis was pretty good as The Thing, Julian McMahon was very good as Dr. Doom and Jessica Alba, well, I could sit and watch her read the dictionary and be happy. I didn't buy her as an egghead, but as the Invisible Girl she was fine. And the way they got their names? Was it really just because Johnny spouted it out on live television? Couldn't they come up with something more timeless and just cool? They ruined The Thing's iconic catchphrase "It's clobberin' time" by having a doll say it first, but at least when Johnny first says "Flame on!" it worked nicely. And has there ever been a more reluctant group of superheroes? You'd think most people would at least initially embrace the possibilities before thinking that it might be doing them more harm than good, but only Johnny really got into it, and his was just the coolest looking, not the one with the most fun potential. Although I guess flying is pretty helpful.
The special effects were on the whole, just average. Johnny's Human Torch was well done, but Mr. Fantastic's stretching abilities were too obviously CGI. Every time his hand stretched you could tell very clearly it wasn't real. I mean, yes, it can't ever be real, but the technology still isn't quite there to make it look seamless. Making someone invisible isn't that big a stretch anymore, so the Invisible Girl's stuff was decent. Dr. Doom never got to use his powers enough to make me figure out if they were done very well. His transformation was more physical, with the strange metal coming out of his body. And then there's The Thing. The producers had two ways of going with this. Either make him all CGI, or make him latex. Skipping the all CGI was probably a smart move, since that never looks like you want it to. So I approve of the costume effect instead, but it didn't Wow me. He didn't look all powerful and dangerous. He was the same height, just stockier and somehow lost a finger on each hand. And since he was always so sad, his eyes never even looked scary. I wanted The Thing to be scarier and more menacing but instead I got a depressed pile of orange rocks.
I understand the desire to go with a long back story to help set up the characters. A lot of superhero films these days take that route. You let the audience get to know everyone so you can feel more for them. But all the other movies in recent memory (at least the successful ones) have also given you a plot. It might make the movie a little longer, but I think fans are happy to sit in their seats for two and a half hours if given a good reason to be there. Fantastic Four was setting itself up as being a good movie, with a good story and a realistic bad guy. But the climactic scenes happened extremely quickly and suddenly the movie was over. At 105 minutes they could have gone on for at least another half hour so we could have gotten the best of all worlds. I would have been more than happy to let the movie continue on, and watch the Four go after Dr. Doom rather than what actually happened. I feel like a lot was missing and that the producers are hoping this makes enough money to warrant a sequel, where we'll finally get something really good.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I was disappointed with Fantastic Four. It had potential but it never lived up to it. The story was much too light, even for a comic book film, and left me wanting more. I like the characters and I would like to see them again, but this time with a much better plot surrounding them.
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