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The Marvel Movies: Fantastic Four (2005)

by on July 4, 2011
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Back in 2005 when this film came out, I gave the updated “Fantastic Four” a rather favorable review. For sure, I thought the headline my editor slapped on (“Fantastic, Four-Star Movie”) was perhaps a bit much, but generally I looked upon the movie as a lesser but relatively fun movie.

Uh, I was wrong.

Everything about this lazy, slapdash production is off, with the exception of Michael Chiklis’ Thing and Chris Evans’ Johnny Storm/Human Torch, who embodied those two characters well. The rest of the production? Not so much.

The funny thing is the much-maligned 1994 Roger Corman version, which was never released even on VHS or DVD in an official capacity, captures the spirit of the FF better than director Tim Story’s effort. The action sequences are better, the stakes are higher and the story has more weight to it. If they’d blindly remade that film using modern effects, the result would have been infinitely better than what we got here, where the action centerpiece is the Four rescuing passersby and firefighters on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Here are just a few of the things missed out on or gotten wrong in this film:

1) Jessica Alba as a scientist? Are you kidding me?
2) Dr. Doom is Marvel’s signature villain. He is not, however, a preening metrosexual douchebag who constantly cracks wise.
3) How to show off our characters’ powers? Hmm…let’s make jokes! Ben Grimm clumsily breaking glasses and bar stools in the bar, flaming-hot Johnny snowboarding (and riding a dirtbike inside New York City’s…domed stadium?), Sue getting naked in public (which they repeat in the sequel), Reed Richards reaching for some TP while sitting on the can. This stuff writes itself!
4) I get that we’re doing metaphor for each character’s powers: Ben has a “rocky” exterior but a heart of gold; Johnny is a brash “hot”head; Reed “stretches “himself too thin; and no one listens to Sue (so she’s … y’know … “invisible”). You don’t have to actually say this in dialogue and definitely not more than once.
5) We don’t always need to see how a team, and its members, gets its silly nicknames
6) Women, even those as attractive as Ben Grimm’s wife, typically don’t saunter out of doors in Brooklyn after dark in their lingerie. Even when they’re married to the Thing (which, by the way, is a reference to Ben’s condition being difficult to figure out, not some kind of sexual innuendo).
7) And wouldn’t wives whose husbands are astronauts typically have some kind of update on their spouse’s condition after a cosmic accident?
8) And would they really recoil in terror so quickly?
9) It would be nice to have a couple of legitimately exciting, fun action scenes rather than a bunch of lame TV-movie cut scenes serving as a climax.
10) Yes, there are silly elements to the comic-book FF, but can we try to take it at least a little seriously? Sometimes?

There’s more, but I’ll stop there. In sum, the action sequences range from kiddie-movie fare to unbearably boring, the acting is uniformly substandard (though several of the actors in the movie have done great work in other films), the story is silly, the science behind it is poor at best (which could be forgivable, but they spend so much of the film in the lab that the film forces us to focus on it), and it seems those responsible for making the movie have a) never seen a comic-book movie; b) don’t know how to create real relationships; and c) are incapable of making a decent movie.

The sequel would bring more of the same, as we’ll find out, leaving us to believe that the “Fantastic Four” movie wasn’t just a fluke, but the result of incompetence and a complete lack of understanding to what makes for good heroes.


Next Time: Bryan Singer Matthew Vaughn Brett Ratner helps the X-Men make their Last Stand!

Previous Marvel Movie Entries

Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Conan the Destroyer (1984)

Red Sonja (1985)
Howard the Duck (1986)
The Punisher (1989)
Captain America (1990)
The Fantastic Four (1994)
Blade (1998)
X-Men (2000)
Blade II (2002)
Spider-Man (2002)
Daredevil (2003)
X2: X-Men United (2003)
Hulk (2003)

The Punisher (2004)
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Blade Trinity (2004)
Elektra (2005)