Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four is the latest comic book from Marvel to hit the big screens. This is the tale of four astronauts who are exposed to cosmic radiation and imbued with super powers which they must use to battle their nemesis Dr. Doom. A loud, expensively flashy piece of lightweight fluff is the result.

The leader of the gang is super brain scientist Richard Reed, who becomes Mr Fantastic. With the help of billionaire businessman Victor Van Doom he leads an expedition to try and study the effects of a cosmic sun storm. Naturally things go wrong and the four astronauts are exposed to extreme cosmic radiation. Gradually they realise that the radiation has given each of them super powers. Reed becomes elasticised at will, love interest Sue Storm can turn invisible and create shields, her brother Johnny gains the ability to burst into flame and fly and Reed's sidekick Ben Grimm becomes a huge brute with incredible strength. Victor Van Doom becomes some kind of electrically charged metal man in the same accident.

The Thing

The Fantastic Four was never a great story, the idea that radiation can transform men into super beings is an old one and as superheroes go the Fantastic Four seem old fashioned. This is scraping the bottom of the comic book barrel and the film would never have been made without the recent success of much better comic book character conversions.

The plot is laughable and centres around the tug of war between Reed and Doom for the affections of Sue Storm. When the four reveal their superpowers a media circus springs up around them and Reed tries to find a way to return them to normal. Doom is furious and blames Reed for his failing company and for stealing Sue; he resolves to destroy the four of them. Cue a big showdown with lots of special effects.

The plot and script for this film are simply awful. The story is very basic, weakly portrayed and completely without substance. It simply serves as an excuse for lots of flashy special effects sequences. Many of the scenes don't make sense and the pace alternately drags and flies as the director struggles and fails to build an overall structure for this flop of a movie. In fact director Tim Story proves quite conclusively that he doesn't know what he is doing.

Ben Grimm who has become The Thing is probably the best of a bad bunch. He suffers greatly with his new condition which makes him repulsive to people (he looks like he has been covered in orange paper mache). His heartless bitch of a wife dumps him without even a conversation and then he causes a huge accident on a busy bridge. This sequence on the bridge is terrible, badly shot and confusing it really doesn't work. As a scene it is simply an excuse to reveal the gang's powers. At one point Reed tells Sue she must turn invisible to sneak past police, she turns invisible in front of everyone and then asks them to get out the way which kind of defeats the purpose of being invisible. The scene then cuts to them all being through the barrier with no explanation of why she had to sneak through or how the rest of them caught up again. This is lazy film making.

As things progress it all gets a bit boring and builds towards the inevitable and thoroughly predictable finale battle in which you know they will defeat the megalomaniac Doom. There is no depth to the characters, no exploration of their reaction to what has happened to them (other than the obvious pain of The Thing). Each is cliche or boring cardboard cut-out. Johnny Storm is the typical flyboy wiseass who manages to grate on your nerves throughout. Sue Storm is the simpering love interest, Reed is the nerdy, rubber man and The Thing is the big hulking muscle bound idiot.

The poor quality of the direction and script is exacerbated by the wooden acting. Ioan Gruffud is dull as Reed, Jessica Alba looks great as always but her acting is cheesy and unconvincing, Chris Evans as Johnny is a big walking cock loosely camouflaged as an adrenaline junkie. The best performance comes from Michael Chiklis as The Thing who manages to give the character some humanity. Dr Doom is played by Julian McMahon and he has his best scowl on throughout the film, because of course evil people scowl all the time.

This film was not worth making, at least not in this incarnation. It is another lazy attempt to cash in on the comic book bandwagon. The movie insults the audience with its blatant stupidity and no-one involved with the production seems to care about the fact that the story simply does not work. Fantastic this is not.

Reviewed by Simon Hill

Return to Top