Fantastic Four (2005) – movie review

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Movie Review by Dr Kuma

Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon
Director: Tim Story

So here it is, another Marvel adaptation and yet another disappointment, unless you’re a boy between the ages of 5-9, then I’m sure you’ll like it.

If however you’re a comic fan and 15-plus, then this will seem a great waste of source material as F4 are one of the more interesting creations of the great Stan Lee, who crops up here in a thankless role as a mail man.

The major problem is that comic books are illustrated stories, this “blockbuster” doesn’t seem to have any story at all bar the fact that it shows how they are “changed” cosmically but after that it just boils down to a couple of set pieces; one of great merit (Torch being chased by a missile) and one of great absurdity (the Thing on the Bridge). The way all these set pieces fall into place is absurd. I mean, what would Ben Grimm’s wife (the Thing) be doing on a bridge which was normally a freeway in rush hour in order to hand back her wedding ring? I mean the Human Torch is fast but she must be amazing to get to the scene of the event, through all the blocked off traffic in just a couple of minutes – amazing. The other real gaff in this terrible set piece is when Ms Storm (the delectable Jessica Alba – the most silly/sexy “scientist” in films since Denise Richards as Dr Christmas in THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH) has to take off all her clothes to get through the crowds on said bridge. Any excuse for Alba to take off her clothes at anytime is welcome I admit, but why did she have to do it? The others simply walked through the crowds fully clothed. What was the point? Still, can’t really complain but this is just one or two points in a movie with more plot holes that a golf course. The story (what there is of it) follows…

When experiments on a manned space station are disrupted by a cosmic ray storm, the people within it survive but are changed forever. Reed Richards, inventor and leader of the group gains the ability to stretch his body, and takes the name, Mr. Fantastic. His ex-girlfriend, Sue Storm, gains the ability to turn invisible and create force fields, calling herself the Invisible Woman. Her younger brother Johnny Storm gains the ability to control fire, becoming the Human Torch. Pilot Ben Grimm is turned into a super strong creature called The Thing. Together, back on Earth, they use their new unique powers to explore the strange aspects of the world, and to foil the evil plans of Doctor Doom, originally a friend of Reed’s who’s space ship they were manning. Fans of Dr Doom will feel short changed as the trademark iron mask is not worn until just before the end of the film, instead we are treated to actor Julian McMahon’s rather more frightening painted on eyebrows being raised for most of the film’s duration. Fans of the TV series NIP/TUCK will be pleased to see that he has transferred to big screen villainy with some aplomb.

As I said, this is a film for kids, so I can’t be a grouch, they’ll love it, but don’t go there expecting anything like the darkness of BATMAN BEGINS as this film is so polished it’s shiny. In the battle of the comics, DC seems to have the upper hand to Marvel at this stage. Stay tuned though fight fans as they are making THE SILVER SURFER and parts 2 and 3 of FANTASTIC FOUR back to back and as this film was no more fulfilling than a trailer for the forthcoming instalments, it’ll be interesting to see who’s left standing.

Dr Kuma’s verdict: Using the characters names as representatives of the scores:
If you’re a kid, you’ll think this is Reed Richards – Fantastic. If however you are a fan of the comics and old enough to shave you’ll think it’s more The Thing – Grimm.

3 out of 6 stars

Dr Kuma’s “Would You Believe?” trivia section:

The “lost” films with Fantastic Four connections

Fantastic Fact #1
This is not the first live action version of the Fantastic Four! Another was made in the mid 90’s but never released because unbeknown to the cast and crew, the movie was never intended to be released, and was made only because the studio who owned the rights to make a Fantastic Four movie would have lost the rights if they did not begin production by a certain date. The film was then bought by Fox in order that it was never to be shown and spoil/confuse fans of their eagerly awaited version of the film, which was the specific intentions of the movie makers and therefore far more clever than the campaign behind the BLAIR WITCH PROJECT as a money making idea. The film is now one of the most requested “lost” movies on the Internet and those who have seen it agree that it is awful. Is it as awful as this version? Who knows, at least this new film looks the part even if it isn’t Fantastic.

Fantastic Fact #2
The look of Ben Grimm (The Thing) is a virtually exact copy of a monster in a John Agar sci-fi film from the early 60’s called HAND OF DEATH- which pre-dated the comic. The movie was thought lost and was again, one of the most sought after films in fandom until it was discovered intact in a garage last year. I wonder if Mr. Lee saw the film on its original limited drive in release before creating the character of Ben Grimm?

Strange but true.