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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Fantastic Four

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Judy Thorburn

Fantastic Four

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"FANTASTIC FOUR" IT'S CLOBBER TIME, ALRIGHT!

Even before the Beatles were known as the Fab Four, legions of Marvel comic book fans were drawn into the fictional adventures of another quartet called the Fantastic Four, a team of superheroes with individual extraordinary powers. Since its debut issue in 1961 Stan Lee’s creation of Fantastic Four has gone on to become Marvel’s most popular comic book series. So it is no surprise, that these characters have finally made it to the big screen (a 1994 B-movie version was filmed, but never released).  Well, it is about time. After all, Hollywood has been squeezing out one comic book franchise after another - resulting in some blockbuster hits and others dead upon arrival flops. The question is, was Fantastic Four worth the highly anticipated wait?

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, fantastic four, Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans, Laurie Holden, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, comic book, comix, comics, dr doom, superheros, invisible woman, the torch, Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, Stan Lee, Tim Story, Jack Kirby, Mark Frost, Michael France, Avi Arad, Mark Radcliffe, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan, Kevin Feige

After such entertaining translations such as X-Men, Spiderman, its sequel, and the most recent comic book translation, Batman Begins which upped the ante, I must say the Fantastic Four isn’t so much a failure as it is a disappointment, a juvenile slice of popcorn drivel that lacks fresh inspiration.  Let me put it this way – Fantastic Four is a step backward into Saturday morning cartoon entertainment.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, fantastic four, Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans, Laurie Holden, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, comic book, comix, comics, dr doom, superheros, invisible woman, the torch, Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, Stan Lee, Tim Story, Jack Kirby, Mark Frost, Michael France, Avi Arad, Mark Radcliffe, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan, Kevin Feige

The premise is this.  Scientist Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) and his best friend Ben Grim (Michael Chiklis) approach Trump-like billionaire industrialist Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon) to fund a mission in space so that they can study a space cloud, which could hold the answer for DNA and medical cures.  With the promise of financial gain, Von Doom agrees to the go ahead and recruits his Director of Genetic Research and love interest, Susan Storm, who just happens to be Reed’s ex-girlfriend, (Jessica Alba). She, in turn brings aboard her cocky brother Johnny (Chris Evans) as pilot, to complete the crew.  But, the mission goes awry when the team is caught in a cosmic storm where exposure to radiation “fundamentally” alters their DNA.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, fantastic four, Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans, Laurie Holden, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, comic book, comix, comics, dr doom, superheros, invisible woman, the torch, Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, Stan Lee, Tim Story, Jack Kirby, Mark Frost, Michael France, Avi Arad, Mark Radcliffe, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan, Kevin Feige

Upon returning to earth, each begins to slowly develop different symptoms of changes in their body and new “fantastic” abilities.  Reed discovers he can stretch every part of his body to extremes.  Susan turns into the “invisible woman” at will and can also create a force field. Thrill seeker Johnny becomes a “human torch”, literally a man on fire, with the ability to fly, changes he finds really cool.  And Ben’s physical transformation into a man made up entirely of massive rocks with superhuman strength sets the stage for an event where the world will witness the abilities of the Fantastic Four for the first time.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, fantastic four, Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans, Laurie Holden, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, comic book, comix, comics, dr doom, superheros, invisible woman, the torch, Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, Stan Lee, Tim Story, Jack Kirby, Mark Frost, Michael France, Avi Arad, Mark Radcliffe, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan, Kevin Feige

Depressed about his predicament and the fact that his wife left him, Ben contemplates his fate on a New York bridge where his attempt to stop a suicide sets the ball rolling for a series of multi vehicle crashes, explosions and excitement leading to his cohorts showing up to help their friend, now referred to as The Thing. You would think that after causing such a devastating pile up, he would be arrested. But, no. Instead, the crowds and police hail the Thing and his buddies as heroes.

Reed is designated team leader and called Mr. Fantastic, although we don’t see him do much team leading. Fantastic he isn’t; boring is more like it. Ioan Gruffudd (you try pronouncing it) is a handsome fellow, but comes off as too weak in this role.

As for Von Doom, he is transformed into a metallic madman able to control electricity and sets out to destroy the Fantastic Four as the power hungry Dr. Doom. What credible motivation does he have? Is it jealousy over the love triangle, or does Doom blame the loss of his empire on the Fantastic Four? It’s totally nonsensical.

In the hands of director Tim Story (Barbershop, Taxi) Fantastic Four fails on many levels.  Inconsistent in its delivery, the storyline is uninteresting, uninventive and lackluster. The special effects are uneven; some are flashy and dazzling while others are downright cartoonish.  There are a few good moments thanks to Michael Chiklis who brings some humanity, heart and soulful emotions to the conflicted man beneath the outer layer that looks like a monster.  Unfortunately, the rubber suit costume never looks more than that in close ups and destroys any chance of believability, which is a big issue showing up in other areas of the poorly written script.  For instance, while in a bar a beautiful blind woman somehow is attracted to the Thing. Why, I haven’t a clue. Also, after being released from the hospital, Johnny suddenly shows up in a convertible sports car with a license plate that reads, “torched”. When did he have the time to get it?

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, fantastic four, Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans, Laurie Holden, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, comic book, comix, comics, dr doom, superheros, invisible woman, the torch, Mr. Fantastic, The Thing, Stan Lee, Tim Story, Jack Kirby, Mark Frost, Michael France, Avi Arad, Mark Radcliffe, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan, Kevin Feige

Jessica Alba is definitely an eye catching “babe” (my husband’s words), but her acting is wooden and she is miscast, looking way too young as the “Director of DNA Research”. Yeah, right! Also, I failed to notice any distinct chemistry between the characters. If this cast was supposed to evoke a family style relationship, it didn’t work, witty banter and a few arguments aside.

Avid fans of the comic book series will have a conniption for all the flaws and “creative” (or lack of) license the filmmakers have taken in bringing the superheroes to life.  It’s obvious that this version of Fantastic Four is aimed at young, less mature male audiences who probably haven’t read the comics and will be satisfied by the female eye candy, fantasy aspects and action.  For the rest of us who have experienced recent superior comic book translations, this inferior film had us expecting more.  Fantastic Four?  More like mediocre, at best. .