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Awesome: 4.5%
Worth A Look: 10%
Just Average: 20.5%
Pretty Crappy: 22%

16 reviews, 104 user ratings

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Fantastic Four (2005)
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Makes the Corman version look like 'Superman' by comparison"
1 stars

“The Fantastic Four,” as any hardcore comic-book fanatic will tell you, is not the first time that the legendary Jack Kirby/Stan Lee superhero creations have appeared on the big screen. Back in 1986, a German-based production company picked up the film rights to the comic with the provision that if they couldn’t get a film going by the end of 1992, the rights would revert back to Marvel Comics. With time running out, the producers made a deal with legendary schlockmeister Roger Corman to slap together an ultra-cheap film that would allow them to retain the rights. The film was made, the rights were held and since this was the time when comic-book films were beginning to get hot again, the producers bought back the film, shelved it permanently (some rumors abound that the negative was burned) and sold the now-lucrative title to 20th Century Fox to make a multi-million dollar version.

Inevitably, copies of the film hit the bootleg video circuit and it became a laughing stock among fans who couldn’t believe that anyone could make a film so crappy out of such promising material. I’ve actually seen this version on a shabby fifth-generation tape and I will admit that while it is a pretty crummy movie, it is a little unfair to compare it with the spectacular likes of the Batman and Spider-Man films. After all, the filmmakers were working on a minuscule budget–stretched even further when you consider that each of the main characters is essentially a walking special effect–and a rushed schedule, so it shouldn’t have come as a shock to them when it turned out to be less than it was cracked up to be. What will shock fans, however, is when they realize that, after a decade of false starts and an enormous budget, the new version of “Fantastic Four” somehow manages to be worse than the cheapo Corman version. What looked like a renaissance in comic-book movies–thanks to the likes of “Sin City” and “Batman Begins”–has now been stopped dead in its tracks by what may be the dumbest film of its genre since they added nipples to the Batsuit.

Apparently trampling over the established continuity of the comic for no particularly good reason, the film opens with brilliant-but-poor scientist Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), along with tough-but tender sidekick Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), visiting the lavish offices of evil-but-rich former college classmate Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon). According to Reed’s calculations, a cosmic storm is brewing that could hold the secrets to curing all diseases or some nonsense like that and he needs Victor’s resources–namely his money and private space station–to conduct his experiments. Victor agrees, mostly so he can rub it in his former rival’s face that he has apparently won the hand of his former love, the smart-but-hot Sue Storm (Jessica Alba), who now works for him as his head of genetic research. Of course, if Reed were as brilliant as he is supposed to be, he would remember the two most important rules of dealing with evil-but-rich tycoons.

1. Never make deals with any tycoon with the surname of Von Doom.

2. Never make deals with any tycoon who appoints the likes of Jessica Alba as the head of his genetic research division. (This is not meant as an insult to Ms. Alba but there hasn’t been casting this unlikely since Denise Richards appeared as a nuclear scientist in that James Bond film.)

Anyway, the group–along with Sue’s hotheaded-but annoying brother Johnny (Chris Evans) and Victor–go up into space to do their science stuff, only to discover that Reed has once again whiffed it and the cloud that is supposed to be hours away from them is going to hit them in about six second. They all get their genetic material scrambled and when they finally return to Earth (please don’t ask how that happens), they soon discover that they now have strange powers. Johnny can turn himself into a human Bic lighter and also seems able to fly. Reed has the ability to stretch his extremities as if his entire body was rubber. Ben’s entire body turns to rock and he now has superhuman strength. As for Sue, her power seems to be a stomach flat enough to plane wood on–oh yeah, she can also become invisible and develop force fields at will. (This, of course, begs the question of why anyone would cast the likes of Jessica Alba in a film where she would be invisible for a good portion of the running time–if I had gone to business school, I am sure I would have learned that this would be an example of not maximizing one’s core assets.)

After banding together to save the day at a bridge disaster, the four become media sensations and are dubbed the Fantastic Four. Predictably, they all react to their new celebrity differently–Johnny (The Human Torch) embraces it fully, Ben (The Thing) mopes because his wife left him (in perhaps the worst scene of the film) and the only one who will befriend him is a cute blind girl (in perhaps the second-worst scene), Reed (Mr. Fantastic) struggles mightily to recreate the storm in a way that will return them to normal while Sue (The Invisible Girl)struggles mightily to get Reed to notice that she still likes him and stuff. Oh yeah, Von Doom, who in the meantime has lost his business but gained a titanium-alloy skeleton, has decided to destroy the group and–well, I’m not really sure what the ultimate goal of his plan is but it certainly involves a lot of bad puns and things exploding before he is eventually vanquished.

If this sounds like nothing more than a live-action version of “The Incredibles,” I can assure you that “Fantastic Four” is nothing of the sort. “The Incredibles,” after all, had wit, charm, excitement, compelling heroes, an appropriately dastardly villain, a clear-cut threat that had to be defeated and a witty-yet-reverential attitude towards the entire superhero genre. None of these elements are on display in “Fantastic Four.” Although the light tone of the screenplay by Michael France and Mark Frost is a relief when compared to other gloomy superhero films, it only results in a series of smart-ass jokes that are never amusing for a second. The action scenes are all derivatively staged (it feels as if director Tim Story–late of that masterwork “Taxi”–decided to just copy scenes that worked in the “Superman” films–the final battle is an especially blatant rip-off of the Metropolis battle in “Superman II”) and sloppily executed.

The heroes are unappealing–Gruffudd is a drag, Evans is actively annoying as the extreme-type dude, Chiklis is hampered by a ridiculously unconvincing costume that never comes close to suggesting his now-tremendous weight and mass and you hardly register Alba’s performance because you are too busy noticing Story’s efforts to include her cleavage into every single shot. And while Von Doom may have been the group’s greatest nemesis in the comic books (as Dr. Doom, a name which is inexplicably never mentioned here), you’ll be hard-pressed to understand why from this film–apparently McMahon was directed to act like a cross between Donald Trump and a malevolent Tin Woodsman and come up with a performance that, unfortunately, is exactly like a cross between Donald Trump and a malevolent Tin Woodsman.

There is one intriguing aspect to the film that is introduced and then never explored and that is the notion of the superhero-as-celebrity. Unlike others, who go to great lengths to keep their identities a secret (at least until it is time to bring the latest babe down to the Batcave), the Fantastic Four are celebrities and find themselves on talk shows and on the covers of tabloids. This was, I understand, a recurring theme in the comic book as well and I wish that the film had explore it in more detail. However, that would have taken thought and intelligence and it was apparently decided all around that it would be easier to throw in scenes of extreme snowboarding, extreme motocross and moments where Jessica Alba becomes visible while in her underwear or stepping out of the shower. Okay, the latter didn’t hurt that much but even I would have gladly traded a little flesh for some actual wit and insight.

“The Fantastic Four” is the kind of all-out disaster that leaves you wondering how so many people could have worked on it for so long and come up with so little in the end. I think I have a possible answer to that question. A couple of summers ago, the film adaptation of Marvel’s “Hulk” came out and instead of simply providing goofy comic-book thrills, it had a director, in Ang Lee, who actually took his job seriously and gave viewers a film that mixed genuine human emotion with the razzle-dazzle–in effect, he took a comic-book film and turned it into an Ang Lee film. While some loved this approach, most fanboys were appalled and claimed that the film was boring and no fun. I suspect that the producers of this film panicked and decided to lard it with the very elements that Lee somehow managed to avoid–paper-thin characters and an incomprehensible storyline consisting that merely strings together a series of forgettable action scenes and overlays them with an even more forgettable collage of crappy rock songs. Well, they certainly succeeded in making a film that is nothing like “Hulk”–too bad for us that it is actually closer to the likes of “Howard the Duck” instead.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12567&reviewer=389
originally posted: 07/08/05 00:03:15
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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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