Fantastic Four (2005)

f4-2005-poster“You guys look like an 80’s rock band!”

The Scoop: 2005 PG-13, directed by Tim Story and starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, and Michael Chiklis

Tagline: Prepare for the fantastic.

Summary Capsule: You think YOU got problems? Rich, beautiful, talented, popular superheroes have you beat!

Justin’s Rating: Get out the garbage bag, ’cause this one’s a stinker!

Justin’s Review: Oh boo-hoo. Woe is me! Will you hold my clothes for a second, while I don sackcloth, scrape my skin clean with broken seashells, and anoint my head with ashes? For, you see, I am a superhero! And it’s utterly miserable! Alas, Babylon!

Probably speaking on behalf of most of the “normies” out there, I’d like to address the superhero population at large: Shut. Up.

Yeah, you heard me. We’re utterly sick of all your pedantic whinings about how troublesome it is to be granted fantastic powers and how burdensome your life’s become now that you have the ability to save the world. We don’t sympathize, Mr. and Mrs. Ultim-O. We have to work 9-to-5 jobs just to pay the rent, and nobody ever really thanks us for cleaning up after that kid who puked in aisle five. We’ve certainly never gotten a news conference with our names printed in BIG BOLD letters, nor a congratulatory phone call from the President or even the Secretary of Agriculture. We can’t really imagine how hard it is to be a cut above the human race, but we do know we’re tired of hearing how hellish life is up there on Cloud Mutant.

I honestly have nothing against this recent wave of superhero flicks. It’s awesome, I hope it’s here to stay. There’s so much great potential for awesome movies that my head starts to implode when I consider all the material that’s out there, waiting to be plucked. But I do have a grudge against seeing, over and over, the same motif of a superhero moping about like a grounded teenager, crying girlie (or in the case of female superheroes, boyish) tears, just because they’re granted something every nerd, geek and (most likely) common person would kill to have.

Fantastic Four is so full of weak spots that its use in any building construction would instantly condemn the site, but for me the problem begins right at this whole I’m-Gonna-Sob-About-Being-Super attitude that we’ve seen in past movies (to the same irritating effect) such as Spider-Man and The Hulk.

The story of five idiots that think a few sheets of metal is enough to protect themselves from a little Flying Sun Chunk, then being turned into superfreaks as a result, is one of the weaker ones that Stan Lee came up with in his long and distinguished career. Granted, the FF has an enormous (if not X-Men-ish) fan appeal, but it always seemed less than thrilling to me — and in the case of super-stretchy Mr. Fantastic, just plain dumb.

If I were The Thing, by the way, I’d write a book about how my marriage was a sham. Because Ben Grimm’s wife here is the single least-understanding woman on film. Her husband is rescued from a horrible space accident which transforms him, and she doesn’t even stick around to let him explain what happened. The second time she sees him, he’s done heroic stuff, and she takes off her wedding ring and leaves him. What kind of marriage was this? Did they ever talk, or sort of only make babies if they happened to bump into each other in the dark?

I was honestly surprised how un-entertaining Fantastic Four ended up being. The story is quite simple — other than the origin backstory, the bulk of the movie is just the four of them waiting around, not really saving the world at all (although the public thinks they’re just ducky for cleaning up a mess that The Thing started in the first place), and finally coming to fight Dr. Doom, who attacks them for little reason other than just being a jerk. Then, you have the acting. Oh, the acting. It’s all basic, laced with sub-par quips (“Well, I’ve always found him to be a little limp”), and even wooden — hello Jessica Alba! Even Michael Chiklis, who’s getting what little kudos there are from this movie, is enormously underused and uninteresting as the (sigh) burdened Thing. Even the special effects aren’t that special, because the action and characters they’re pasted against are nothing worth keeping your eyes on.

In short, it’s a huge chunk of money that would’ve been better used to spay and neuter a crapload of dogs and cats than infest our theaters and homes. Go away, Fantastic Four. No vacancies in our heart for you.

Kyle’s Rating: And superheroes… come to this…

Kyle’s Review: Well, I sort of had the opposite reaction to Fantastic Four. My friend Chris and I were wandering around and felt like seeing Batman Begins again, but we had missed the last show of the night by about ten minutes. We were trying to figure out if it was worth missing the opening when Chris nodded at Fantastic Four. “Why don’t we just see that?”

Why not indeed. So in we went, and I’ll be darned if I wasn’t entertained. I sat there the entire time with a big, dumb grin on my face. I can barely remember any details, so it can’t have been that great a film, but for my summer dollars I got a surprising amount of summer entertainment, so thanks!

Justin is right: it is kind of lame how the people “cursed” with superpowers choose to mope and lament their fates instead of doing awesome things with their newfound abilities. Even The Thing should be happier. Sure, he looks all freakish and stuff, but he could probably jump off a mountain and live! How cool would that be? I’d be jumping off buildings and bridges and mountains ALL THE TIME if I was the Thing. WARNING: don’t try that at home, kids!

I think an effective prerequisite to seeing Fantastic Four is seeing Spider-Man 2. Because that movie is excruciatingly hard to sit through. I mean, talk about endless whining and long sad glances by our hero and a general lack of joy over the abilities he’s been gifted with. At least in F4, you’ve got Johnny Storm, who perhaps proves for the first time in any superhero film that superheroes can have sex, too. Nice work, Johnny!

Yes, Doctor Doom is completely emasculated from the impressive dictator character of the comics into a pretty rich boy who’s more worried about stock options than losing Jessica Alba to his stretchy nemesis. Yes, the story is super-simple, surprisingly devoid of tension, and unwilling how explain how The Thing manages to be transported about five miles in the span of three minutes. But F4 has that magical quality that Spider-Man 2 and even the first Spider-Man consistently lacked: fun. Goofy fun, but fun is fun, sort of.

You don’t need any knowledge of the comic, and you don’t need 50% of your brain, to watch Fantastic Four. It’s not as good as it could be, it’s not as bad as it probably should be, and considering I also liked The Dukes of Hazard I’m starting to wonder if that blow to the head I recently sustained didn’t cause more damage than I previously thought. I love lamp…

Great. More  inescapable advertising.

Great. More inescapable advertising.

Intermission!

  • The film has nearly 900 special effects shots.
  • A replica of a part of the Brooklyn Bridge was constructed on-set in Canada.
  • Michael Chiklis is the only of the four to have read the comics.
  • Several moments in the movie take their visual cues from Jack Kirby’s work in the very first issue of Fantastic Four: The cosmic storm is depicted with the same bullet-shaped rays from the origin. Ben possesses the lumpy craggy face from his earlier appearance rather than his more familiar beetlebrow. Johnny races against a missile like he does in the opening act of the comic. Johnny’s flame-form is a smoldering pillar of fire like it was in the earlier comics rather than the more familiar burning man look. Ben smashes into an oncoming truck in an angle identical to the one given in a panel where he exits a manhole directly in the path of an oncoming car.
  • In 1961, Stan Lee created what he wanted to call “The Fabulous Four” (renamed, obviously) as a rival to DC comics’ Justice League of America. The group of superheroes were radically different from the norm at the time: no secret identities, a brother-and-sister duo, and a comic book first of two superheroes marrying. For a while, this was THE comic that put Marvel in front, and boasted the label “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” on front.
  • Stan Lee’s cameo here (as in all films based on his property) is show stopping and… weird. He needs to cut this out.
  • Contains over 25 cameos from real life employees of Fox television affiliates.

Groovy Quotes

Susan Storm: [invisible] Look at me!
Reed Richards: I can’t.

Ben Grimm: Typical of Victor Von Doom to build a 30 foot statue of himself.

Johnny Storm: [after The Thing demolished his car] You’re gonna pay for that, Pebbles!

Johnny Storm: Everybody out of the way! Wide load coming through! He’s huge!

Ben Grimm: [referring to Reed, Susan and Johnny in their new outfits] You guys look like an 80’s rock band!

Reed Richards: A few days in space. What’s the worst that could happen?

News Reporter: Is it true that Mr. Fantastic can expand *any* part of his anatomy?
Johnny Storm: Well, I’ve always found him to be a little limp.

Reed Richards: What I see in your relationship is what I considered the best part of ours.
Susan Storm: That is?
Reed Richards: Passion… for science.

Victor Von Doom: [proposing to Sue Storm] Four words, Sue. Four words that will change our lives forever…
Reed Richards: [interrupting] The cloud is accelerating!

Susan Storm: You don’t want to walk around on fire for the rest of your life, do you?
Johnny Storm: Is that a trick question?

Johnny Storm: [to Ben, after first seeing him as The Thing] Where’re your ears?

Johnny Storm: Got it. Super-Nova bad.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Fantastic Four (1994)
  • Spider-Man
  • Spider-Man 2
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2 Comments

  1. Pingback: /AFK: The Stare | Bio Break

  2. Pingback: » Movie Review – Fantastic Four Fernby Films

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