Fantastic Four


Current Reviews
DVD Reviews
Old Reviews
Crystal Ball
About the M.R.
Photo Gallery
Celebrity Interviews


"...if you like the quality of your special effects to be consistent with the quality of the rest of the movie (in other words, not good), then you won't be disappointed."










Fantastic Four
The Masked Reviewer

You know, when you use a superlative adjective in the title of your movie, you're kind of setting yourself up for a lot of lame movie review headlines.  In this case, one might expect a lot of people pointing out how Fantastic Four isn't so fantastic.  But, what would those reviewers do if the Fantastic Four were fantastic?

Fortunately, we won't have to worry about that scenario.

If you're a fan of Marvel comics, you're undoubtedly familiar with the Fantastic Four.  Created by Jack Kirby and your friendly-neighborhood Stan Lee, the Fantastic Four was one of Marvel's hottest titles, for a while.  It spawned an animated cartoon series by Hanna-Barbera.  It was even made into a feature film by B-movie legend Roger Corman in 1994.

That version of the Fantastic Four was laughable.  The special effects were ridiculous, the story was nothing special, the actors were unknown, and the whole experience was rather empty. 

The new Fantastic Four, on the other hand, had a big budget! 

Director Tim Story, who helmed Barbershop and Taxi has brought to the silver screen a superhero movie that's...well...not one of Marvel's best efforts. 

The big star of the film is Jessica Alba, who, as always, looks amazing...but since she's playing Sue Storm, the Invisible Girl, you don't get to see as much of her as you'd like.  The next "big name" is Michael Chicklis (no relation to the chewing gum) plays the Thing -- you might remember him from "The Shield" and that "Seinfeld" episode.  From there, the star power fades fast.  Ioann Gruffudd (who you probably not remember as Lancellot in the recent stinkerama King Arthur) plays Reed Richards.  Julian McMahon (no relation to Ed) plays Victor Von Doom, also known as DOCTOR DOOM, even though he's not an MD (just like the comic book, he's a dentist, Dr. Doom, DDS.  Driven to a life of crime because no one wants to be the patient of a dentist with that name...oh, nevermind).  Julian McMahon was on "Charmed" and "Nip/Tuck".  If you've ever seen either of those shows, you might recognize him.  Chris Evans plays Johnny Storm, but...the Masked Reviewer has never seen him before.

But hey, you don't have to be a big star to make a great movie, right?  Pfff.  Yeah, right.  Sometimes, a director will find an unknown actor, waiting to burst onto the scene.  It may seem unlikely that the director of Barbershop and Taxi would make such a discovery, and you'd be right.  It's not that the acting is's just...very bland.  Although, that would be a good indicator of bad, wouldn't it?  In the Roger Corman version of the film, people were hammy and over the top, but at least they were into it.  The actors in this Fantastic Four seem to be almost taking it seriously.

The characters in the Fantastic Four comics were not the most dynamic.  Reed Richards is a scientist: serious, dedicated, and dull.  Ioann Gruffudd's portrayal in that respect is dead-on.  They try to make him a bit more interesting with his relationship with Jessica Alba's character, but...they have about as many sparks flying between them as two people standing in a crowded different cities.  Likewise, the best banter in the comics and cartoon came from The Thing and Johnny Storm arguing back and forth.  They do a bit of that in the film, but it's neither funny nor interesting nor believable. 

It seems like a great example of a film where all the actors probably got along politely and civilly, but neither liked nor disliked each other.  Their performances are all isolated from one another, and that detachedness hurts the film.

Comic book purists might scoff at the deviations from the source material, most notably Dr. Doom's origins.  They also handled the Ben Grimm/Thing issue in a flippant way.  In fact, they didn't really dig into anything. 

Okay, so the acting is stiff and uninspired and the story isn't great.  The direction is nothing to speak of, either.  But what about the special effects?

If you like consistency, they're great!  That is to say, if you like the quality of your special effects to be consistent with the quality of the rest of the movie (in other words, not good), then you won't be disappointed.

We'll start with the good: the flame effects for Johnny Storm are fine.  The CG looks better than it could have looked.  The effects for the Invisible Girl aren't quite as good; the invisibility and force field effects aren't horrible, but there's nothing you haven't seen a zillion times before.  Much like the Roger Corman Fantastic Four, the Thing is wearing a big suit...made of foam rubber.  In this version, they tried to cover up the fact that it's a big rubber suit (instead of a big rock suit) by adding a lot of sound effects of rocks sliding over each other.  However, it never looks like it should look.  Why didn't they use computer graphics to cover up the parts where the foam "rocks" are twisting when he moves his head?  Perhaps the lamest effect of all is Reed Richard as Mr. Fantastic.  There isn't a moment on screen when the rubber man effects don't look like computer animation.  It's particularly lame.

The Roger Corman version at least was funny in the cheeziness of its special effects.  They'd have Reed Richards holding a long stick with a glove on the end to show that he stretched his arm out.  At least there's something campy about that.  This is just...sad.

The attempts at humor fall flat with the entire audience.  In fact, you may not even know that some of the jokes are even supposed to be jokes.  The lack of humor hurts Fantastic Four more than it would other superhero movies because humor was an integral part of the appeal, much like as in Spider-Man comics. 

The story itself is inherently uninteresting.  There doesn't seem to be any big threat to anyone other than the Fantastic Four.  It's them and Dr. Doom, and he doesn't have an evil plan to destroy the world.  It's not really about anything.  It's the superhero version of "Seinfeld" -- a movie about nothing.

There's so much that the Masked Reviewer could write about this movie, but quite frankly, it isn't worth it.  Marvel had a string of miserable licensing mistakes in the 80s, with a lame Spider-Man movie, a horrible Captain America movie, an awful Punisher movie, and Roger Corman's ridiculous Fantastic Four movie that was never released theatrically.  They started turning things around with X-Men and Spider-Man, but Marvel's track record hasn't been spotless.  Remember Daredevil with Ben Affleck?  Remember The Hulk?  This film isn't as good as The Punisher, by any stretch of the imagination.  It's not as good as Daredevil.  It may not even be as good (to use the term loosely) as Elektra.  It could even be argued that it's not as good as The Hulk, although that was a bigger let down because it did have some talent associated with it, and expectations were higher.

Some people may enjoy this movie, but it seems like the people who would love Fantastic Four would literally love anything -- either because a certain cast member is in it, or because they just don't care about story, direction, effects, or quality in general.  It's really hard to make a case for the Fantastic Four not sucking.  Still, it's not so much that it's bad, as it is that it's just certainly qualifies for a mindless summer movie.  You can sit through it without feeling angry and violated at the end, though there's nothing to talk about or remember after you see it.


Expectation from the Title: A film about a man who buys three too many bottles of surface cleaning solution, and then learns to love again.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  The actors' parents must be very proud of their children, and love them no matter what they do.

The Pros: The Thing says "It's clobberin' time."

The Cons: No chemistry between actors, no laughs, no excitement.  Performances were too low-key.  Dr. Doom was hammy in a bad way.  Effects were nothing great.

Fatnastic Four, Jesica Alba, Ian Gruduff, actor who plays Johnny Storm, Michael Chickliss


Home | 28 Days Later | The 40-Year-Old Virgin | 50 First Dates | A Lot Like Love | A Man Apart | A Mighty Wind | Adaptation | After the Sunset | Against the Ropes | Alexander | Alien versus Predator | Along Came Poly | Anchorman | Anger Management | Anything Else | Around the World in 80 Days | Bad Boys II | Bad Santa | Batman Begins | Be Cool | Beauty Shop | Beyond Borders | The Big Bounce | Blade: Trinity | The Bourne Supremacy | Brother Bear | Bulletproof Monk | The Butterfly Effect | Cabin Fever | Cat in the Hat | Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ( not Willy Wonka ) | Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle | Chronicles of Riddick | Coach Carter | Collateral | The Cooler | The Core | Corpse Bride | Cradle 2 Grave | Criminal | The Dancer Upstairs | Dawn of the Dead | Daredevil | The Day After Tomorrow | Deuce Bigalow: European Gigalow | Dirty Pretty Things | Down with Love | The Dukes of Hazard | Dumb and Dumberer | Elektra | Elf | Envy | Eternal Sunshine | Fantastic Four | Fever Pitch | Flight of the Phoenix | Flightplan | Freaky Friday | Freddy vs. Jason | Gigli | Gothika | The Haunted Mansion | Hero | Hidalgo | Hitch | Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy | Hollywood Homicide | The Hulk | The Hunted | I, Robot | Identity | IMAX Matrix Reloaded | The Incredibles | Intolerable Cruelty | Irreversible | The Island | The Italian Job | Jeepers Creepers 2 | Jersey Girl | Johnny English | Kill Bill Volume 1 | Kill Bill Volume 2 | King Arthur | Kung Fu Hustle | Ladder 49 | The Ladykillers | Land of the Dead | The Last Samurai | League of Extraordinary Gentlemen | Legally Blonde 2 | Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou | The Longest Yard | Lord of the Rings: Return of the King | Lord of War | Love, Actually | Madagascar | Man on Fire | The Macnhurian Candidate | Master and Commander | Matchstick Men | The Matrix Reloaded | Matrix Revolutions | The Medallion | Meet the Fockers | Monster | Mr. 3000 | Mr. and Mrs. Smith | Mystic River | National Treasure | Ocean's Twelve | Once Upon a Time in Mexico | Ong-bak | Open Range | Out of Time | The Pacifier | The Passion of the Christ | The Perfect Score | Pirates of the Caribbean | Pool Hall Junkies | The Punisher | Resident Evil:Apocalypse | Runaway Jury | Sahara | School of Rock | Seabiscuit | Secret Lives of Dentists | Secret Window | Serenity | Shark Tale | Shaun of the Dead | Shrek 2 | Sideways | Sin City | Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas | Sky High | Something's Gotta Give | Spanglish | Spellbound | Spider-Man 2 | Spongebob Squarepants Movie | Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith | Starsky & Hutch | The Station Agent | Stepford Wives | Stuck on You | Surviving Christmas | Suspect Zero | SWAT | Taxi | Team America | Terminator 3 | Timeline | Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life | Troy | Underworld | Unleashed | Uptown Girls | Van Helsing | The Village | Walking Tall | War of the World | Wedding Crashers | Welcome to Mooseport | The Whole Ten Yards | Without a Paddle | Wrong Turn | X-Men 2 | XXX: State of the Union | Action | Comedy | Documentary | Drama | Family | Epic | Family | Horror | Romance | Sci Fi

Copyright 2003, Michael D. Lynn