Review: Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four is, quite simply, an okay super-hero movie. I had higher hopes, but really its no better than Daredevil, way better than Catwoman, but doesn’t come close to Batman Begins or Spider-man. I heard a rumor that after the premier of The Incredibles they did a re-write of the script and reshot it. If that’s true, they didn’t do a good enough job.

Sadly character development was lacking throughout the film. The character that got the most development was The Thing, and even that was paltry and riddled with cliché (wife leaves, trying to get his friends together, yelling at Johnny). Chiklis was cast perfectly and does wonders with the material. It was cool hearing him yell out for Vic when he plays a Vic on the Shield.

Jessica Alba came across as not much more than eye candy. Sure she played the now stereotypical role of the hottie with a genius IQ, but that was about it. At the very least, they had her pining for Richards through the whole movie, which is exactly what her character did in the 60s. Believe me, I love Ms. Alba but she seemed to young for the role. Sue should be in her 30s and Alba looks about 24.

Reed Richards got a little development with the whole “stop living in a world of numbers and taste real life” bit that was running between him and Ben as well as Sue. In the movie, he is a nerd with no self confidence. The Reed Richards I’ve read was often distracted and distant from Sue and the others because his brilliant mind was always at work on some mystery or developing some super-device, not because he was a wimp with no self-determination. A good example of not using the perfect source material.

The Human Torch was cast fine, but his part was a bit overplayed. He’s supposed to prank the hell out of Ben and he is a hot head (pun intended), but he was just okay. Evans’ natural charm softened Johnny enough to make him somewhat likeable. The extreme sports bit was just to have a bunch of product placements. Yawn.

From his Lex Luthor-lite characterization to his ill-conceived powers, Doctor Doom was the weakest link in the film. I can understand why the producers thought he had to have powers, but I don’t for one instant think that the solution was to give him metal skin and electric powers. Just too stupid for words.

In my opinion, Doom should have NO powers. He uses his supreme intellect to analyze the Four’s new powers, then devises a suit of armor that not only protects him, but is also equipped with offensive weapons and devices based on the Four’s weaknessess. In Reed’s case, the super-cold would have worked fine, as it did in the movie. Small heat-seeking explosives could be propelled from the suit, as well as rays that would neutralize the Torch’s powers. The suit could have given Doom enhanced strength to take on The Thing, and the mask could have been equipped with sensors enabling Doom to see Sue when she goes invisible. The suit could also have sonic blasters that are attenuated to disrupt Sue’s force fields.

I just read that a sequel is in the works. I hope, as a story, it works better than what we have here.

Overall, the movie was a typical comic book movie without a real love for the source material. Those movies are nearly always sub-par. Fantastic Four is no exception.

Quick Nitpicks:
– For all the talk of unstable molecules, most of the clothes seemed to stretch or withstand heat just enough.
– I don’t mind seeing Jessica Alba strip, but there needed to be at least one shot of her in just bra and panties before she turned all invisible.
– Why was Doom so stupid? The real Doom wouldn’t have had his business undercut by bankers. The real Doom wouldn’t propose marriage to someone he apparently hadn’t even dated. The real Doom would have figured out a way to exploit the FF’s abilities, not just kill them. Bah!
– Why did everyone seem to forget that it was a member of the FF who started the crisis on the bridge in the first place?
– Ben’s fiancée walks out into the New York streets, at night, to talk to a man claiming to be her fiancée wearing a trench coat and hiding behind a tree….WEARING THAT!?!?!
– Ben manages to start the machine back up, run it without a power source, and operate it without any indication he understood any of it. That’s one thing. But, he gets down that building, ALL ACROSS TOWN, and up another building in about a minute???? Wow he’s fast.
– How did everyone seem to know he was on that bridge? And why did they need Sue to go invisible to get close? What was that about? They all end up walking right up to the front line. Bad editing.
– I was unclear how much science Ben Grimm was supposed to know. He criticizes Doom for practicing “strip mall science” and there was another part that made it sound like he actually knew some stuff. But then he was befuddled by something Reed said. Which reminds me: There probably should have been a few more Grimmisms in the film: no “My Aunt Petunia,” no “everloving, blue-eyed Thing,” no “Stretcho.”