FANTASTIC FOUR (Alternate Review)
AN UNFORTUNATE THUMBS DOWN FILM REVIEW RATING (2 out of 5 Rating)!
Films about super heroes have become almost a mainstay of the summer box office, like action flicks and romantic comedies. While many a fan – including myself – is excited about finally seeing our favorite books on screen, the result thus far have been mixed. While X-Men, Spider-Man, and Batman were good films within their own limits, Daredevil, Electra, Punisher, and Hulk all failed to meet expectations. So it is regrettable that I place the Fantastic Four in the latter group rather than the former.
This tale of super heroes finds scientist Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) and comrade Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) promoting a manned mission to an orbiting space station to study a once in a millennia cosmic event. Unfortunately, Reed’s finances are lacking, so he turns to old college friend Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon) for financing, only to find his past love interest Susan Storm (Jessica Alba) on Doom’s payroll. Doom agrees to the mission with tough conditions and also insists Storm’s brother Johnny (Chris Evans) pilot the space craft. The mission goes awry, bathing the characters in a heretofore unknown type of radiation. Upon the return to Earth, each character slowly discovers new abilities; abilities which some embrace and others shun.
Fantastic Four is a film with very little depth and typically, most audiences have low expectations for the dramatic in super hero fare. Unfortunately, Four manages to sink below those rather low expectations, reducing the entire cast to mere caricatures of better writing. There are some genuine attempts at real emotion, but they are buried beneath a script that has to go somewhere but never does. The viewer isn’t taken anywhere special, as we find our heroes bickering (Reed and Susan), showboating (Johnny), or wallowing (Ben) until the inevitable conflict with a newly created super villain (Doom). We all know what to expect from these characters at the beginning, so none of their reactions are the least surprising. What we get is a fairly generic origin story for a super powered team in the rough who obviously must work together as a team in the end to face a great evil.
While many would argue that the Fantastic Four have never been Marvel’s strongest title, the characters and villains have more to offer than what director Tim Story has given us. This is a film that’s riding the wave of past super hero movie successes and it shows. Fantastic Four is aided by some fine casting (with the exception of Alba) and the special effects do offer some great new eye candy. While none of the acting is anything special, most of the cast competently portray each role enough to get the audience through the slows scenes and into the action. The dialogue can go either way, depending upon your penchant for cheese and obvious humor.
A film that could have been fantastic is rather bland, with a story, characters, and dialogue all done much better in other films of the genre.