Fantastic Four

(Click here for Internet Movie Database entry)    

      Here we are with yet another comic book adapted to the screen. But this time it's not only one that I've heard of, but one that I actually liked when I was a kid. The film version of Fantastic Four starts much as the original comic book with scientist Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), his best friend Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), his girlfriend Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) and her brother Johnny (Chris Evans) having a little accident in space. They get irradiated by a big Solar flare and later find that they have acquired super powers. Richards (Mr. Fantastic) can stretch his body, Sue (Invisible Woman) can become invisible and set up force fields, Grimm (The Thing) becomes the ever lovable Thing, and Johnny (The Human Torch) can set himself on fire. In the comics, their nemesis, Dr. Doom (Julian McMahon), wasn't introduced until issue #5, but in the movie, he is in space with the Fantastic Four and gets his super powers the same way they do. But he doesn't seem to deal with it as well as they do, i.e. he becomes a sociopathic megalomaniac. The film also introduces a "romantic" triangle with Dr. Doom, Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic that isn't in the comics. Once they all have their powers and have figured out who is good and bad, all that is left is for the Fantastic Four to keep Dr. Doom from wreaking havoc on the World.

      Fantastic Four has no pretensions of being a serious film like Batman Begins. It is a comic book all the way. And so, taken as such, it's not that bad. The characters are very one dimensional and the story is simplistic to say the least. The director, Tim Story, has one good (Barbershop) and one bad (Taxi) movie under his belt. And Story becomes one of the few African-Americans to direct a big "popcorn" movie. But there's nothing special about the direction of this movie. It starts and it points toward the end. The writers include Michael France (Hulk) and Mark Frost. Frost wrote for Hill Street Blues and Twin Peaks. Fantastic Four is quite a come-down for him. There's not much nifty dialogue. The cast is quite good. They are all basically TV actors, Gruffudd (Horatio Hornblower), Alba (Dark Angel), Chiklis (The Shield), and McMahon (Nip/Tuck). Gruffudd is a bit too much of milquetoast as the scientist Reed Richards especially after being Horatio Hornblower. I liked Alba in Dark Angel, where she added "no big dealio" to my lexicon (much to Mike's chagrin), and she is fun here. Chiklis is cute as the unhappy Thing, and Evans and Mcmahon really get into their one dimensional characters. The fact that the actors are having fun with their parts helps make Fantastic Four more enjoyable since the special effects are nothing to write home about. The many kids in the theatre with me quite enjoyed the whole movie except when Mr. Fantastic kissed Invisible Woman. Yuck!