Hello and welcome to Fanboy Action Theater, our semi-regular review of superhero movies. In this installment, we’ll take a gander at The Fantastic Four, the 2005 movie based upon Marvel’s flagship title. As usual, there may be spoilers!
The Plot: As with practically every first movie dealing with superheroes, The Fantastic Four basically tells the origin of the Fantastic Four supergroup. In the movie, Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) is a brilliant, but broke, scientist. He believes that evolution is caused by clouds of cosmic energy and he has figured out that a cosmic energy cloud will soon intersect with Earth. Accompanied by his good friend, pilot Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), Richards goes to Victor von Doom (Julian McMahon) for help. Doom was a college classmate of Richards and is now CEO of his own company and has his own personal space station. While at Doom’s company, Richards runs into Susan Storm (Jessica Alba), an old flame of his who left him because he was timid and viewed the entire world through a mathematical equation. Doom offers to help Reed even though he hates him in return for a lion’s share of any patents and wealth that Reed’s experiments may provide. Also accompanying the group is Johnny Storm (Chris Evans), a hot-headed daredevil.
Once at the space station, tragedy strikes. The cosmic energy cloud hits the station ahead of schedule and all five people are exposed. After returning to Earth, each person begins to mutate. Richards can stretch himself to crazy lengths, Susan can turn invisible and create force fields, Johnny can engulf himself in fire and fly, Doom begins to become living metal, and Grimm (who gets screwed) becomes a large rocky person with tremendous strength. Johnny is the only one thrilled with his powers and Richards and Susan work to find a way to reverse the process. Grimm is totally devastated when his fiance leaves him after his transformation. When Grimm tries to save a man from committing suicide, a huge accident occurs on the bridge. Richards, Susan, and Johnny go to help Grimm save the lives of the people on the bridge, thus exposing their powers. Afterwards, the group becomes known as the Fantastic Four when Johnny tells the media that that’s the name of their group. Johnny then gives each member their nickname: Mr. Fantastic (Richards), the Invisible Woman (Susan), the Human Torch (Johnny), and the Thing (Grimm). Meanwhile, Doom loses his company over the loss of the space station and begins to go insane due to his transformation. The rest of the movie deals with the group’s fight with Doom leading to Doom’s eventual defeat and supposed death. At movie’s end, Richards proposes to Susan.
Review: I’ve never been a big fan of the Fantastic Four. I’ve always thought of them as boring, but at least they weren’t as self-righteous as the Avengers. Overall, the movie was decent. The cast was pretty decent, especially Michael Chiklis as the Thing. He really brought a pathos and melancholy to the character that was pretty touching. The other actors were ok, not spectacular. I thought Jessica Alba was alright as Susan Storm (I know most reviewers trashed her portrayal). However, I really didn’t care about her acting as that she wore a skin-tight outfit for half the movie and she is smoking hot! 🙂 Honestly, I could probably watch Jessica Alba read a phone book and be happy.
The effects were good with one exception. I thought that they could have done a lot better with the Thing. Chiklis wore a big foam suit as the Thing and I thought that they could have used CGI to produce a better look. I was pretty disappointed the first time I saw how they did the Thing. I hope in the sequel they do better.
A big gripe with the movie is how they did the character of Doom. I can understand changing a bit here or there for the sake of a movie, but they totally changed his background. Doom did not get his power from being exposed to cosmic energy in the comics. He got his power from his armor and his natural sorcerous abilities. Yes, in the comics, Doom knows magic. Doom is flesh and blood in the comics, not living metal. What’s next? Silver Surfer not being a whiner? [snicker] It drives me crazy when they totally change a character. I mean, you only have 40 plus years of source material to use. Nah……just ignore that and have some guy who glanced at a few comics one afternoon revamp everything.
Another gripe of mine is that the movie is pretty dull. The two big scenes in the movie are the bridge accident scene and the fight with Doom at the end. C’mon! There should be at least another fight or two. It’s Fanboy Movie Law Number 2 which states: “There should be at least 2 big fight scenes in every superhero movie. Crumbling bridges, burning building, or falling planes do not count!” I would kiss the toes of the director that gave me 20 minutes of exposition (here’s the characters, here’s how they got their powers) and then 70 minutes of action!
Overall, I thought Fantastic Four was alright. Hopefully, the sequel will be better but I worry about sitting in the theater listening to Silver Surfer whine for an hour and a half. I give Fantastic Four a …………………………….C+.