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The Fantastic Four (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)


Fantastic Four


THE FANTASTIC FOUR (2005)

Starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans,  Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Hamish Linklater, Kerry Washington, Laurie Holden, David Parker, Kevin McNulty, Maria Menounos, Michael Kopsa, Andrew Airlie, Pascale Hutton and G. Michael Gray.

Screenplay by Mark Frost and Michael France.

Directed by Tim Story.

Distributed by 20th Century Fox.  106 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

As a kid, the Fantastic Four was one of my favorite comic books.  Forget the X-Men, this one had it all – brawn, brains, beauty and a human torch!  How could you lose?

Well, honestly I haven’t really given the Fantastic Four a thought since I hit puberty.  This movie is my return into the world of the crime-fighting team and maybe I’ve changed.  Maybe they’ve changed.  Maybe this is just not a very good movie.  Whatever it is, The Fantastic Four certainly isn’t going to get me scurrying out to get a new copy of the comic.

In fact, The Fantastic Four is an extremely mediocre superhero film.  It is not all that well written.  The acting is just okay, despite the strong cast.  The special effects are surprisingly haphazard.  There are some decent action sequences, but nothing you haven’t seen before.

The backstory is as dull as anything else.  A scientist (Ioan Gruffudd), his bodyguard (Michael Chiklis), his ex-lover (Jessica Alba), her cocky brother (Chris Evans) and an evil businessman (Julian McMahon) go to space, get stuck in a cosmic storm, and come out with a whole series of superpowers.

Strangely, when they suddenly have all these odd, new skills, for the most part, the Four seem oddly casual about the changes.  In fact, when Johnny Storm is suddenly catching fire, you’d think he’d be concerned – even if he was an Xtreme athlete.  Reed Richards takes a strangely detached look at the fact that his body can suddenly stretch to any length he imagines.  It’s almost like he’s looking at himself through a microscope.  It seems rather a waste to hire Jessica Alba as the beautiful scientist/invisible woman – you never really believe that she is as smart as the character is supposed to be.  And frankly, if you’re going to hire an actress as beautiful as Alba, why would you have her invisible for long stretches of time?

Only muscleman Ben Grimm is deeply upset about his new powers, and this is just because he is suddenly a walking stack of rocks.  His wife leaves him, in one of the most unrealistic breakup scenes ever.  Yes, he looks a fright, but she supposedly loved him madly, and she never even took the time to find out if the change was only temporary.  Even Grimm’s reaction strained credibility; late in the film he has a chance to undo the changes that he has been moping about for the last hour, and he doesn’t take the opportunity.

McMahon’s evil Dr. Doom is also a rather underwhelming villain.  You never believe for a moment that he is a real threat.

Fantastic Four feels more like a made-for-cable movie than a major motion picture, and maybe when it is playing constantly on HBO in a few months it will work better.  For now, though, Fantastic Four is a disappointment.  (7/05)

Dave Strohler

Copyright ©2005   PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved. Posted: July 16, 2005.


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