The Fantastic Four
Michael France, Mark Frost (Comics: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby)
Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon
PG-13 (For sequences of intense action, and some suggestive content)
Not one, not two but four superheroes prance across the screen in the latest comic book adaptation Fantastic Four.
Scientist Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) has hit rock bottom and seeks assistance from his high school rival Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon) in the use of his space facility to examine the benefits of solar winds in science. His best friend, Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), comes along for the ride. Victor sends his love interest, and Reed’s ex-girlfriend Sue Storm (Jessica Alba), with them and she brings her brother Johnny Storm (Chris Evans).
The happy quintet find themselves soon on the space station where Reed’s miscalculation causes all five to be exposed to the deadly solar wind but each escape alive. None are unscathed. All four have developed mutated abilities. Reed gains the power of elasticity, Ben becomes a hulking, super-strong rock man, Sue can make herself invisible and make powerful force fields and Johnny is able to light himself on fire. Altogether, the four are a fantastic group who soon begin to put their powers to the safety of men.
Victor, however, has also been affected but it is not until later in the film that Reed and company discover this fact. His body has become hard as metal beneath his skin and he’s able to control electrical currents, channeling electricity through his body which has now become a superconductor.
As is standard with all superhero films, the Fantastic Four must thwart the evil supervillain to save themselves and everyone around them. This film follows the pattern so fully that you could almost cut out any of the heroes and villains and paste in any other heroes or villains. The adaptation fault lays with uneven screenwriter Michael France (The Hulk and GoldenEye ) and talented Mark Frost (creator of Twin Peaks ). They have created paper-thin characters with shallow motivations and filled the extra time with oft lifeless action sequences and cheesy dialogue.
Director Tim Story (Barbershop and Taxi ) does nothing to alleviate the script issues. He lets the story tell itself, a colossally bad idea, and does nothing to improve the quality of the production. Even the actors seem off-put to give good performances.
The usually good Chiklis (Emmy nominated for The Shield ) fails to impress, Alba (Dark Angel ) looks and acts simply like peddled flesh, and Gruffudd (Lancelot in King Arthur ) exhibits the liveliness of a dust bowl farm. Only Evans (Cellular , who admittedly is just the practical joker of the team, gives the best performance. And that should worry anyone.
In the 1980s, another film version was made but it was rumored to be so bad that the production company shelved it and kept it away from audiences. I wouldn’t necessarily say this version of Fantastic Four share the same fate, after all there have been worse comic adaptations; however, this one shouldn’t have been as hyped as it has been. Nor does it deserve to be very popular.
August 4, 2005