Directed by Tim Story ("Barbershop").
Written by Michael France and Mark Frost. Based on the comic
series by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 7/18/2005
"Fantastic Four" feels from the get-go like
the prologue to a long franchise of motion pictures; as such, it's
"much ado about nothing" from the start as well. It's big,
it's loud, there's a bunch of stuff going on...but, ultimately it
just sets the table for bigger, louder, more interesting sequels in
the very near future.
A comic series that I never read but heard a
ton about through friends, The Fantastic Four are four people caught
in a classic "wrong place, wrong time" situation that leaves them
with a special power that makes absolutely no sense. During a
space mission aboard the vessel of nefarious billionaire Victor Von
Doom (Julian McMahon), our four heroes are all hit by the same blast
of radioactive (uh, maybe...now I'm forgetting) storm rays but all
end up with different side effects. The team's hero, Reed
Richards (Ioan Gruffudd, my vote for best excuse for a stage name
ever), ends up with skin that can stretch on command; the ship's
pilot, Johnny Storm (Chris Evans), can light himself on fire and
fly; his sister Sue (Jessica Alba) can turn invisible when her
emotions flare, while Reed's best friend Ben (Michael Chiklis) has
turned into a fucking walking rock.
The foursome return from the mission and try
to uncover the origins of these new afflictions; Von Doom comes home
and realizes that he is slowly turning into a natural conductor of
electricity. This would be the time to hit the panic button!
Good fights evil, blah blah blah.
I saw this with my friend Jennifer and both
of us agreed--amidst a slew of other superhero/comic book
adaptations, "Fantastic Four" is just another bump in the road.
The biggest problem with the movie? You've got exactly two
scenes with the foursome working together to save lives, which would
seem to be the strength of any film features heroes of this type.
The rest is all set up, laying the groundwork for the inevitable
sequels that follow. The special effects are cool and it's
cool watching each person seem wowed by their new powers; there's a
few laughs sprinkled in (intentional and unintentional; when
Ben--newly turned into The Thing--tries to pick up a fallen wedding
ring, it's clearly meant to be sad but I was laughing my head off).
McMahon was actually pretty good as the bad guy, but he isn't really
evil until he starts offing people halfway through the film; he just
didn't seem, well, evil enough.
And then, some of the writing here just
didn't make sense, which brought the film down to earth as well.
Why does Von Doom's company go from robust to near bankruptcy after
the space mission goes awry? I don't remember a scene where
Von Doom said he was betting his entire company on Reed's prediction
of a successful mission. Why give us the chance at a great
showdown between Von Doom and the F4 and then, after 30 seconds,
have it end? The F4 gets famous right away, which almost feels
like a joke, since it just gives the filmmakers the chance to give
them all their names--"Mr. Fantastic", etc.--when we could have used
a couple of scenes where they perform minor miracles BEFORE getting
big-time. My biggest question of all--why does everyone have
such different powers? I still don't get why only one of
them--Torch--can fly, or why only one of them can create a shield
(Invisible Woman) even though her powers don't have anything to do
with creating shields; i.e., she can make herself disappear to the
eyes but her hands can stop lightning bolts in a snap? Really,
Bottom line, "Fantastic Four" makes you feel
like it is nothing special; you certainly won't want to see it again
and you might get the feeling that you are wasting your time by
being there while you are watching it. I have to believe that
the next sequel will be more interesting since it won't waste any
time with introductions, but it will need a serious influx of action
in order to make hardcore F4 fans come back for seconds.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard