Fantastic Four

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Fantastic Four
Review (7/10)
(By Alex Riviello)

Fantastic Four is a lot better than it has any right to be. Going into this expecting a complete bomb (as most people having seen the trailers should) will leave you surprised. It's far from a great movie, but it's a good superhero flick.

For those who've never read the comic, Fantastic Four is the story of 4 people who are changed into superheroes by an accident at a space station. They went up there to examine some cosmic radiation and advance the human race and blah, blah, blah. It's never clear exactly what they were setting out to do. But they go up there regardless - a radioactive wave whacks them (that radiation... always up to no good) and a few days later... boom, superheroes. Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) is able to turn into rubber and stretch himself out, Sue Storm (Invisible Girl) can turn invisible, Johnny Storm (Human Torch) can light himself up and fly, and The Thing, well he's just a rock monster. The movie differs from the comic in that Victor Von Doom (that's Doctor Doom to you) was up there in the station with them, and gets affected too. He starts turning into metal and is able to store and release energy from his hand. I don't know about you, but I liked him better when he was just a maniac in a mask. Anyways, he had fronted the money for the experiment, and loses his job thanks to them messing it up. Plus, he's jealous because his (invisible) girlfriend runs away from him to the wimpy Richards. So he vows revenge.

Meanwhile the superheroes are forming into a team of sorts and getting media attention for saving some people on a bridge accident. There's a lot of tension between them as they adapt to their new powers, and The Thing in particular feels even more like an outcast in his new state - he is the only one who can't turn his powers on and off at will, after all. So, will they finally team up in the end and defeat Dr. Doom? It's a comic book movie... you figure it out.

So yes, it's a typical dumb old-school comic story. The action scenes don't disappoint though. The way they test out their powers is very reminiscent of the first Spider-Man. And, despite some wonky effects work (Reed Richards looks a little more plastic than he should), it's pretty nifty to see these guys in action. One big fault of the movie is that there's not enough of these showcase scenes. Superheroes are supposed to pummel bad guys, after all.

Michael Chicklis' portrayal of The Thing makes this movie work. He's the film's only sympathetic character. They could just scrap the rest of the team and put him in a solo movie that'd be far better than the (admittedly weak) Hulk. Ioan Gruffudd is forgettable as Richards. He's supposed to be the leader of the pack, a genius - but nowhere is this evident. Not really good casting here. Jessica Alba as Invisible Girl (woman?) does one thing well... wear low-cut shirts. She's as believable a scientist as my ass is. Chris Evans as the Human Torch plays his role well even if he's there mostly for comic relief. It's obvious he's having fun in this role, and though he's a typical rich boy X-games fanatic it's perfect for the character. He gets a bunch of laughs in the movie, and his rivalry with The Thing is one of the few good relationships in the whole thing. Julian McMahon as Doctor Doom doesn't really work, which is a shame because he had the potential to be a great villain. Instead of being evil he's just petty. We need more layered, insane characters in our geek movies, damn it.

Despite its faults, Fantastic Four is a fun, silly movie. It's nothing you'll want to see multiple times, but the kids will love it. Let's just hope they pull a Spider-Man 2 with the inevitable sequel and expand on the characters (and action). The origin story's out of the way, so now it's time to get into the meat. I can easily see this becoming a decent series.

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