Hi There! Today’s Marvelous Monday post is about the Fantastic Four, done by Troy of the Review Club. Thanks for participating Troy!! (If you are interested in taking part, see the updated movies list here)
FANTASTIC 4 (2005)
Wow, this feels like a trip down memory lane. I remember going to see this film when it came out, I would have been 14 and superhero films were big, but I guess not as big as they are now what with Marvel creating its own branded universe and yearly layout and DC now getting onto that same planning bandwagon with untitled films scheduled for the next few years. Seeing this now almost ten years later loses the young wonder I saw it with before, it has some fun elements but on the whole it lacks a punch and that’s sad considering the four powerful characters it has to play with.
On getting his idea agreed to, Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) takes his friend Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) to Victor Von Doom’s (Julian McMahon) space station where they’re joined by Von D himself, Reed’s old flame Susan Storm (Jessica Alba) and future flame figure Johnny Storm (Chris Evans). Up there they’re all struck by a freak radiation storm cloud and soon they discover they have powers which they need to understand, control and use to fight a power mad Doom.
There’s fun and slight enjoyment to be had in certain places, the space station cosmic disaster is good enough to shed light on how they all come to gain their gifts, the last showdown with the masked Dr. Doom has some shiny glimmers if not feeling disappointingly short for a final act battle. The best sequence I thought was the bridge which gave time for Ben/The Thing to become a hero and be seen as not some weird orange rock monster. The destruction comes thick and fast with fire engines wreaking havoc, vehicles flipping and flying and all four of them use their powers openly for the first time giving them the public attention to make them the heroes of the movie. There may be some few poor green screen moments or CGI weaknesses amongst this sequence but on the whole it’s the best thing in the movie…I feel.
The issue this film has it never feels fast or exciting; it takes more time with them and their problems which in turn becomes the plots problem. It has an opening that jumps straight into Reed’s plan leaving the exposition light wildly flashing. The majority of the film is about Reed attempting to use his science know how to get them back to the way they were, which isn’t at all interesting to watch. Now with films such as Iron Man or The Avengers letting the heroes revel in the way they are it feels a touch boring having this as the main driving story, the motive is never serious as you want them to stay the way they are so the whole time they’re trying to revert their powers you’re growing tired of it. Siding with the smooth yet cocky Johnny proves to be the right choice.
Chris Evans brings comedy and a twinkle eyed performance as The Human Torch and without falling back on a pun he does burn away the others with his character, a smouldering fiery performance even! Sorry. Ioan Gruffudd does what is needed as the straight laced smart guy but he’s a bit dull and as the group leader Mr Fantastic he’s not that fantastic. Jessica Alba is gorgeous and gets under the skin of the preppy and romantic seeking Invisible Woman with enough believability even if at times you feel she’s acting. I’ll forgive her. Michael Chiklis gets the raw deal being caked in stupid prosthetics that make him look like a reject Pokémon with his only trait really being that he can clobber and smash. McMahon has flashes of evil in his path to becoming the big bad but he like the story never comes across as exciting as he could be considering he’s the only villain.
It’s not a greatly made movie by any account but at least it had time to set up all the characters which is perhaps the reason why ‘Rise of the Silver Surfer’ is a much better movie and actually proves that sequels can be done well. A hit and mostly miss movie with some enjoyable moments here and there, but a movie that Marvel must feel glad it never became part of their new universe.