Fantastic Four

I was genuinely surprised to find that I hadn’t reviewed the Fantastic Four films. Here was me thinking I had the Marvelverse covered and I haven’t even reviewed the lesser known Marvel properties like Daredevil. Still, this changes now with a review of 2005’s Fantastic Four (the less said about 1994’s The Fantastic Four the better). I never want to see the words “fantastic” and “four” ever again.

Fantastic Four (2005)

The early 2000s were pretty good to a nerd like me. After X-Men came out and Spider-Man made huge money at the box office, comic book rights were hastily bought and shoved into production with varying degrees of success. At the time, Fantastic Four was the latest in a long line of superflicks trying to get a sneaky piece of the ludicrous money pie cooling on the windowsill of Hollywood…

…That’s the first time I’ve made myself vomit from my own metaphorical shittery.

“You don’t want to walk around on fire for the rest of your life, do you?”

After a space mission goes awry, scientists Dr. Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), Sue Storm (Jessica Alba), Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) and Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) are hit by radiation causing them to gain superhuman abilities. However, the stupidly named Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon) has super-beef with Richards and will stop at nothing to end the Four. The plot is that superhero plot. Average people encounter some kind of radiation and it enables them to so impossible things. It’s like Spider-Man in space with a vague “space storm” taking the part of the spider*.

Rarely does a film get the casting this wrong. Ioan Gruffudd is a baffling choice for Reed Richards. He’s a good actor, but hardly suited to the role of a middle-aged, all-American genius scientist. In a similar vein, why the hell cast the naturally dark haired, dark complexioned Jessica Alba as blonde haired, blue eyed Sue Storm? It is certainly not due to her acting abilities, so if we’re going purely on looks and how good the actress looks in a skintight jumpsuit, surely someone like Scarlett Johansson would have been a better bet? Michael Chiklis is pretty good as The Thing, but all that’s really required in the role is a gruff voice and a tolerance for sitting in the make-up chair for hours on end. Chris Evans is really entertaining as The Human Torch, sticking fairly close to the comics in terms of Johnny Storm’s personality. Oh- Julian McMahon is also fucking terrible as Dr. Doom- I’ve seen scarier bowls of cereal.

As I said way back when in my Push review, I’m sick of people gaining powers and not enjoying them. It’s refreshing to see the Johnny Storm character actually have fun with his burgeoning fire powers. It could be said that the film itself tries to have more fun with the notion of superpowers than your average superhuman whinge-’em-up. OK, three of the Four treat the powers as a burden, but in no other superhero film would you get a musical montage halfway through where a character uses his powers to remedy the dreaded “no bog roll” situation whilst in lavatorium (Yes, I know that’s not a) a common euphemisim or b) real Latin- so shut up.) Fantastic Four is all about the lighter side of the superhero spectrum in which it has little company- well, excluding the sequel anyway. It’s nice to see a comic based film without cripplingly depressing stretches. The post extreme biking scene where the Four clash publicly over Johnny’s childish attention-seeking is particularly great and contains the brilliant Thing-directed line below:

“You think that’s funny, Pebbles?”

Fantastic Four is a fun but flawed film. There’s some decent action and enjoyment to be found in the interactions between the Thing and Johnny Storm, but it’s just too average as a whole to be anything more than a throwaway popcorn flick. As I said, I like it for its levity in a genre swamped with gritty hyper-reality, but is by no means an essential watch.

*Speaking of Spider-Man, keep it in mind whilst watching this. The boardroom scenes completely rip off the first Spidey film. Shameless thievery.

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