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Awesome: 4.5%
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16 reviews, 104 user ratings

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Fantastic Four (2005)
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by Jay Seaver

"This movie desperately needs an injection of the fantastic."
3 stars

From the American Heritage Dictionary, via dictionary.com: "fantastic: adj. (1) Quaint or strange in form, conception, or appearance. (2) (a) Unrestrainedly fanciful; extravagant; (b) Bizarre, as in form or appearance; strange; (c) Based on or existing only in fantasy; unreal; (3) Wonderful or superb; remarkable." The last definition is the most prevalent today, and the snarky one-liners about how "Fantastic Four"... ISN'T practically write themselves. But the real crime Fox's movie commits isn't one of execution; it's that it doesn't take the wild flights of fancy associated with these characters.

Sure, a lot of folks will tell you that the appeal of the Fantastic Four as a property is that they're a family, and that's undoubtedly part of it: When these characters first appeared in 1962, the soap-opera elements were a marked contrast to what DC's rather bland superheros were doing at the time. That was writer Stan Lee's doing, but just as important was what artist Jack Kirby would bring: A crazy new alien or supervillain or monster every month. You won't find much of that craziness here, though: No Mole Men, shape-shifting alien invaders, planet-eating giants, parallel universes, flying cars, underwater kings... Just a sadly predictable love triangle and a villain given too many shades of gray.

Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) is a brilliant scientist with plans for an experiment involving cosmic radiation, but his think-tank is all but bankrupt, forcing him and old astronaut friend Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) to come to Reed's former classmate Victor von Doom (Julian McMahon) for financing and use of his space station. Victor agrees, in part to rub his old rival's face in how Reed's old girlfriend Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) is now working for him (among, he implies, other things), while making Ben settle for being co-pilot to Sue's brother Johnny (Chris Evans). There's a disaster when the station's shielding fails, though, and the group are exposed to hard radiation. At first it seems like there's no effect, but soon Reed is able to stretch his body in fantastic ways, Sue can turn invisible and create force fields, Johnny becomes able to burst into flames and fly, and Ben... Well, Ben turns into a rock-like (but incredibly strong) "thing". Victor has been affected, too, with his body gaining metallic properties and electrical abilities.

And... That's it. Ben's upset about what he's mutated into, and Victor's a little homicidal as the board threatens to take his company away. But that's it. Doom comes off as being victimized, as a fluke of nature causes his business empire to crumble, and his sorta-girlfriend (and employee) moves into Richards's Baxter Building. Sue's upper management, and while recovering from whatever hit them is important, she's ambulatory and all; shouldn't she be coming in to work? Doom is also a pale shadow of his comic book self. Victor Von Doom carries a thoroughly unreasonable grudge against Reed Richards, but he should aim higher than that, too. The Doom of the comics is an Eastern-European despot who held both NATO and the Soviets at bay during the Cold War. Doom should be making plans to have the world cowering at Doom's feet, not letting mere executives and stockholders push him around. Humbling Richards should be merely part of his plan, not his entire goal. I also think he should refer to himself in the third person a bit, but maybe that wouldn't come off so well on the big screen.

Which is not to say McMahon is bad as Doom by any means. With the script he's given, he captures the character, makes him villainous but in a motivated way, and even somewhat sympathetic at times. There's also the Judge Dredd-like issue of the good-looking TV star not putting on the characteristic mask and cloak until midway through the last act, but, to be fair, the costumers make that look pretty silly. Absolutely nailing his part, on the other hand, is Chiklis as Ben Grimm. Ben's shtick is equal parts self-pity and gruff-but-lovable big guy, and Chiklis does a great job of it both pre- and post-transformation. The decision to mostly use practical effects and prosthetics to create The Thing pays off, as we get Chiklis's body language without filtering or attempts to recreate it in the computer. Also a plus is Chris Evans. Evans doesn't play Johnny quite like I imagined him from the comics, but he does nail the essence of the character, and if the book were to appear for the first time today, he'd probably be the exact kind of buzz-cut extreme sport-loving wiseguy Evans portrays.

More problematic are Jessica Alba and Ioan Gruffudd. Alba looks the part well enough with her hair dyed blonde, and fills her costume out rather nicely, but is clearly the cast's weakest link, never really generating a strong emotion. She's not bad, but neither does her performance make the audience sit up and take notice. It doesn't help that she's got to try and carry a love story with Gruffudd's Reed Richards. I suppose he's okay, if the characterization for Reed is supposed to be "the world's dumbest smart person". It shouldn't be, and not just because that's an oversimplification of the character in the source material. There's just not enough charm to him to make us believe Sue isn't out of his league, and he's not obviously outright brilliant enough to be cool on that level. Reed's a tough nut to crack - he has to be half absent-minded professor, half fearless superhero team leader - but the movie misses the mark by a mile here. Even if you don't know the Four beforehand, it's a pretty wimpy lead.

But that's the thing - how much of the audience does know the Fantastic Four beforehand? Even if they are central and seminal figures in the Marvel Universe, they're not exactly Superman, Batman, The Hulk or Spider-Man to the general public. And if you've never read a Fantastic Four comic, I imagine this movie is thoroughly adequate. It's full of charming, good-looking people. It's got some pretty special effects. It's got fast action that doesn't confuse the audience. It's got a plot that by being about the characters and their relationships is accessible, human, and believable on a certain level. The big finishing set piece is OK, although not everything a post-Incredibles audience could expect (and, hey, four against one isn't cool; Victor should at least have some Doombots to back him up). Director Tim Story and writers Michael France & Mark Frost (along with, I imagine, a whole mess of script doctors - to give it that comfortable, focus-grouped feel) deliver a movie that is everything a FF movie should be on the surface, logically modernized to erase the Cold War-specific elements of the characters' origins. It's just that in doing so, they've erased much of the zany, anything-can-happen excitement that made early Marvel comics so much fun, leaving only the angst.

That doesn't mean it's a bad movie, and I've got hopes for the inevitable sequel - with all the angsty origin stuff out of the way, the pretty-good cast can get crazy. Because they certainly don't get crazy enough in this one.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12567&reviewer=371
originally posted: 08/21/05 22:31:59
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User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell cheesy crap 1 stars
8/05/10 Dr.Lao Could have done with less angst and more action. Oh yeah, and Doom was a huge misfire. 3 stars
8/21/08 The Dork Knight I actually liked Dr Doom despite what everyone says 2 stars
8/06/08 Shaun Wallner This movie was funny!! 5 stars
6/21/08 David V Not good...not good at all. 2 stars
9/25/07 dude yawn 1 stars
7/16/07 MaDmAN Nice looking movie, i liked the villain just too much whining and moaning 4 stars
6/19/07 mr.mike not bad at all (on video).... 4 stars
6/05/07 Blizz POOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
5/24/07 Tracey Chambers boring, ugly, and stupid 1 stars
5/23/07 action movie fan disappointing adaption of very good marvel comic superheros 3 stars
5/15/07 967 What a horrible movie, they try to get get rid of their powers the whole film. WTF? 1 stars
3/19/07 dude crud 2 stars
2/21/07 johnnyfog I liked Dr Doom, but that's about it. Still better than Superman Returns 2 stars
2/20/07 Angie OMG!! How did this ever happened. Not saying it's the end of the world, but seriously. 1 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega It's like reading a comic book. 3 stars
11/26/06 Austin Wertman A BIT OF A BORE. TERRIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 2 stars
11/02/06 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 3 stars
10/16/06 Anthony Feor This movie and X-Men 3 should never have been made 1 stars
10/07/06 ed terrible on just about every level 1 stars
9/18/06 bullit16 So bad, on so many levels 1 stars
9/02/06 Tricia Not perfect, but not entirely horrible either, IMO.I 4 stars
6/23/06 George It was okay, but The story is undeveloped. 3 stars
5/03/06 Cuenzie Wunzie It's a Joke, right? 1 stars
4/05/06 Fred WOW ! very informative ...and i like those pics of ur nephew , so cute !! can see that u pu 5 stars
4/02/06 JM Synth Not as annoying as it looked from the trailers 3 stars
2/22/06 Indrid Cold Not very good, but neither was SpiderMan, and everyone liked that for some reason. 3 stars
1/28/06 Quigley This movie is so, so bad. it makes the hulk look like a movie worth watching. 1 stars
1/07/06 Jim Not as bad as I expected. Is that praise? 3 stars
1/03/06 AM It sucked! I'm so glad I'm not American. I was a little ambivalent about the comics, but 1 stars
12/30/05 tony BORING!! Why was this movie made? Marvel comics is going down the drain 1 stars
12/24/05 The Grinch Chiklis and McMahon are good, Ian's wasted, Alba can't act, enternaing enough I guess 3 stars
12/07/05 tatum Christ, Stan Lee, sell the rights to your grocery list, too 3 stars
12/04/05 WSH One of the worst movies ever made! 1 stars
11/29/05 Jeff Anderson The worst superhero film to date & I've SEEN Albert Pyun's boring as hell CAPTAIN AMERICA!! 1 stars
11/28/05 Ming Jessica Alba and the spectacular visual effects save this from being a disaster. 3 stars
11/23/05 Angela Renee Garrett I totaly agree with you Mel 1 stars
11/09/05 Erik Van Sant Took a Fantastic concept and shit all over it. Avoid like the plague. 1 stars
11/08/05 Stan L good efx, but not much of story, rent Xmen1or2, Batman, or Spiderman 1or2 instead 2 stars
11/06/05 Angela Garrett I totally agree with Mel Valetine ON Fantastic Four 2 stars
10/31/05 PAG OK, decent film. 3 stars
10/26/05 deadwiz Should and could have been so much better! 3 stars
10/26/05 chris a very poor film indeed a waste of my time and money at the cinema 1 stars
10/11/05 Quigley if it had made like batman begins it would havce rocked, but story didn't watch Incredibles 1 stars
9/19/05 alexander somarriba okay 4 stars
9/18/05 Jonathon Holmes Tim Story should watch "Batman Begins" and hang his head in shame 1 stars
8/18/05 green gremlin Rent the "Xmen" DVD instead !!! 1 stars
8/14/05 .:*paris*:. i was expecting something fantastic but quite dissapointed,but certainly entertaining and f 4 stars
8/10/05 Rob S. Why didn't they follow the original story? Victor Von Doom was not a rich businessman. 2 stars
8/10/05 ES Story should have watched the incredibles and then went back to the drawing board on this 3 stars
8/08/05 jada so bad my 10yr old asked to leave, which i gladly agreed 1 stars
8/06/05 Aaron McGraw Poor camera work, they spent more time fighting one another than the mediocre badguy. 3 stars
8/02/05 Brandy Harrington The only comic book movie that is worse than this crap, is Batman & Robin. 1 stars
8/02/05 Quigley Not engaging like spider-man, and mostly not funny. watch something else, please 3 stars
8/02/05 Clatz Absolute pants 1 stars
7/31/05 Helen Greatest Comic book brought onto the big screen. 5 stars
7/29/05 Anders Torp Maybe even a worse disaster than "The Hulk" (if that's possible). 1 stars
7/29/05 PK Chris Evans is on fire! If he'd keep his shirt off the whole movie, I'd give more stars. 3 stars
7/29/05 Moctezuma More of a monstrosity than an actual film 1 stars
7/25/05 M i just wasted 2 hrs of my life!!!! 1 stars
7/24/05 Snakeboy Lots of gaps in the story but still fun 4 stars
7/22/05 Duffyboy666 SHIT! 1 stars
7/21/05 Quigley good special effects cannot save this movie. it had potential and it failed 3 stars
7/20/05 William Vollmer not bad; not great between xmen & Hulk 3 stars
7/20/05 leta Marshall I loved it ! 5 stars
7/18/05 FFlovr u critic hacks! this movie is ure gold, this instantly became my favorite movie 5 stars
7/18/05 Brandy Harrington Damn, this was worse than HULK. 1 stars
7/18/05 fernando thisw movie is bull shit and fuking movie 1 stars
7/18/05 Dave It could've been better, but it had enough fun moments. 4 stars
7/17/05 Matt Thiel Much better than Catwoman. If you want to see F4, do NOT pay to see it!!! 2 stars
7/16/05 John Bell Sometimes we have to set our high sensiblities aside as ask ourselves: did I enjoy the film 4 stars
7/14/05 tony What a rip off. I should have rented Speed 2. At least i would have enjoyed that. 1 stars
7/14/05 B.E. Total garbage. 1 stars
7/13/05 Anus FANTASTIC BORE! Too much whiny drama, not enough action 2 stars
7/13/05 DK i don't pay to hear slogans from bad tv+comercials.got refund of ticket. 1 stars
7/13/05 Tim O! I actually liked the film. I like the friend/family story line. 4 stars
7/12/05 C.E. Can comic book movies get any worse? 1 stars
7/12/05 Peter Griffin There's no reason for a superhero movie to be this lousy. 1 stars
7/12/05 Ole Man Bourbon Pretty bad, but I've seen worse 3 stars
7/11/05 Jorge Lizarazo Good movie, brings the F4 to life. 4 stars
7/11/05 Robin Lent Fantastic Four is far better than the reviews by maintream media 4 stars
7/11/05 Uncle Salty How about... Duuuuuuuuuuuuuh! 1 stars
7/10/05 KELLEN MATHERS Not enough action, unless you count setting up a sequel 2 stars
7/10/05 8=====D shitty just like the comic 1 stars
7/10/05 Peteca It's great dude!~5 origins in one! You can't ask for more! Go see it!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
7/10/05 Naka Sucked ass. 1 stars
7/10/05 Burt Ward It's okay, you should see Batman Begins instead though 3 stars
7/10/05 FFFan Holy Crap, not horrible, but not quite mediocre either 2 stars
7/09/05 Lord Jiggy It doesn't cure cancer...not bad for light fun.. Lame story, decent work on characters 4 stars
7/09/05 Dustin Low expectations though made for more enjoyment. Seriously, it wasn't that bad. 4 stars
7/09/05 Charlene Javier It's not as bad as it sounds. 3 stars
7/09/05 Brian chiklis shouldn't be wasting his time on this crap... 1 stars
7/09/05 Dan I don't know what movie you all watched. This was better than Spiderman. 5 stars
7/09/05 RoyAgain The End of the Marvel Era 2 stars
7/09/05 Derek I love my 1985 buick better than this movie!!!! 1 stars
7/09/05 Genericus I really liked it! All these reviews are anti-hype 5 stars
7/09/05 Moctezuma Fantastic Flop 2 stars
7/08/05 BrianWilly I actually really liked it. People need to stop being such snobs. 5 stars
7/08/05 Johnnybgoode Humorous. I found it a welcome relief from this year's consistently dark, tragic fare. 4 stars
7/08/05 Kristina Williams straight up doodoo 1 stars
7/08/05 malcolm better than i expected. alba's gorgeous but should really work on her acting skills. 3 stars
7/08/05 Ray Anyone could see this coming. 1 stars
7/08/05 Sugarfoot All of a sudden Roger Corman doesn't look to bad now. 1 stars
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  08-Jul-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 05-Jun-2007



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