This year’s big Marvel movie property just hit
screens. I caught it opening night to write this
review, which meant not buying tickets to see Bo
Diddley live. I hope you all appreciate the sacrifice
that was. (I made plans to see this before they went
and moved the release date, or announced the day
Diddley was in town.)

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards / Mr. Fantastic

Jessica Alba as Sue Storm / Invisible Woman

Chris Evans as Johnny Storm / Human Torch

Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm / Thing

Julian McMahon as Victor Von Doom / Dr. Doom

Stan Lee as Willie Lumpkin, the mailman.

Written by Michael France and Mark Frost.

Directed by Tim Story.

Complete information is available from the
IMDB
. Take a look
at the list of stunt people there!

Past movie reviews can be found here.

Premise

Five individuals are exposed to a cosmic ray storm in
an experiment
gone bad, and one of them turns (more) evil.

High Point

The interactions between Johnny and Ben.

Low Point

The handling of Victor Von Doom. I’m not just
complaining because
they botched up the comic character, but because the
character they
turned him into isn’t very good.

The Scores

It’s an adaptation, so we’ve got a hit on the
originality
right there. Even then, it feels somewhat formulaic.
I do give them
credit for resisting the urge to turn these characters
into
superheroes. The FF aren’t superheroes, they’re
explorers with
powers, and that’s the approach the movie takes. I
give it 3 out of 6.

The effects are usually pretty good. The
full blown Human
Torch is too cartoony for my taste, and some of the
Mr. Fantastic
effects (including the fall and the Reed/Ben fight)
just didn’t look
right to me. Others, like the times that only part of
Johnny is on
fire, look quite good. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story is weak. Johnny and Ben are the
only characters
I’m really happy with. The evil plot is pointless,
the rivalry
between Reed and Doom wasn’t set up strongly enough to
really get the
audience involved, and the relationships between all
but the
Johnny/Ben pair are simply not handled well. The
writers did get some
of the big concepts right, like the explorer vs. hero
angle, or the
fact that the Fantastic Four tend to win not because
they have a
stretchy guy, or a girl who turns invisible and
creates force fields,
or a human torch, or a strong, tough guy, but because
they have access
to the greatest resource on the planet: Reed Richards’
brain. They
also did a great job on many of the one liners,
including most of
Johnny’s dialogue. It’s just that the dialogue and
characters for
Doom, Sue, and (to a lesser degree) Reed are just weak
enough to bring
the script down. Doom is the biggest problem: this
type of movie
needs a great villain, and it just doesn’t have one.
I give it 3 out
of 6.

The acting from Michael Chiklis and Chris
Evans is good.
(I’ve heard rumours that Chiklis was also the only
major cast member
to have read the comics: research is good.) Gruffudd
did a decent job
as Reed, but not great. (Part of that was a
limitation from the
script.) Jessica Alba and Julian McMahon’s characters
were badly
written, and they did nothing to correct that. I give
it 3 out of 6.

The emotional response was decent. There
were some great
moments that worked, but the complete package wasn’t
enthralling.
I didn’t feel a build to a climactic confrontation.
(In fact, when
that confrontation started, I knew it would be their
last battle only
because I knew what time it was and how long the movie
was.) Even
that battle didn’t seem that climactic, just because
Doom had never
felt that like scary a villain. (It almost got there,
but when the
attacks that carved holes in small characters just
knock the heroes
into walls, you know the good guys will win just
because the writers
rigged it, and not because they can come up with a
good reason for
it. I mean, please: a fire
hydrant instead of one
of the tanks from the room they just left? Larry
Niven has
said more than once that the hardest thing for a
writer to do is to
write for a character smarter than the writer is. The
people who
worked on this script can’t come close to touching
Reed’s intellect.
Reed would have had that complete plan of attack
formed before he was
ever thawed out, and would have come prepared.
)
I give it 3
out of 6.

The production wasn’t too bad. I admit to
concern when I
heard that the chosen director was one whose resume
was based on
Taxi and Barbershop, but he didn’t
do a bad job.
He didn’t do a great job, either, to be fair. The
worst choice he
made was in filming this version of the script, but
that may not have
been up to him. Given that script, the choices made
to get it on
screen were decently done. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a decent movie, and it’s got
enough fun moments
to enjoy as a matinee, but I don’t think it’s going to
bring the
Fantastic Four comic series back to the #1
seller it used to
be. It felt a lot like the original X-Men
film (due to be
reviewed in a summer double feature), with some
characters right, some
wrong, and just enough good to overcome the flaws long
enough to make
a sequel. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Fantastic Four receives 24 out of
42.