DVD Review: Fantastic Four. Rated PG-13
Starring: Ioan Gruffud, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, Chris Evans and Julian McMahon.
Directed by Tim Story
The Fantastic Fouris the first family of Marvel Comics and also its longest running comic book. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby four decades ago the Fantastic Four centers on Dr. Reed Richards a.k.a Mr. Fantastic (Gruffud), Sue Storm a.k.a The Invisible Girl (Alba), Johnny Storm a.k.a The Human Torch (Evans) and Ben Grimm a.k.a The Thing (Chiklis).
After partnering with his one time competitor Victor Von Doom (McMahon), Dr. Reed Richards and his team travel into space on assignment to study a mysterious radiation cloud. While conducting experiments they are exposed to high levels of radiation, which alters their DNA. Soon thereafter Reed Richards finds he can stretch his body and limbs, Sue Storm learns she can become invisible and control a force field, Johnny Storm can now fly and control fire, and Ben Grimm becomes the gruesome Thing with incredible strength.
While the four people band together to find the cause of their new found abilities, Victor Von Doom discovers he has also changed. He slowly evolves into a power hungry metallic villain who calls himself Dr. Doom. The former friends, Richards and Von Doom, become adversaries as they evolve into their respective roles as super hero and arch nemesis. For sequel purposes the movie makers left an open ended finale’. Dr Doom’s ultimate fate is not known and the character of Alicia Masters (Kerry Washington) is briefly introduced (she is the daughter of another Fantastic Four super villain).
Overall the acting was solid. Chris Evans did an excellent job of pulling off the cocky Johnny Storm. The Thing was a great role for Michael Chiklis. His character on the television show The Shield was tough and dark, whereas the character of Ben Grimm allowed him to parlay his acting into both action adventure and comedy. Alba and Gruffud both did a good job as brilliant scientists and shared chemistry onscreen.
The downsides were only a few. Just as the Fantastic Four were mastering their powers the movie ends with a quick final battle leaving the audience wishing the story lasted a little while longer. Also, the writers did not elevate the status of Dr. Doom they way they should have, being that he is one of the quintessential Marvel Comics super villains. Out of the entire Marvel universe he alone is the Darth Vader figure. His rise and fall to super villain status was too shallow and abrupt.
The mythology behind movies like the X-Menand Fantastic Four are steeped in the sixties. The X-Men were Stan Lee’s commentary on the civil rights movement, and the Fantastic Four were his Cold War tool for the United States to beat the Russians into outer space. Unfortunately updating the story was a necessary evil to make their origins applicable to modern day moviegoers.
Comic books have taken over Hollywood as of late (X-Men, Hulkand Spider Manfilms from Marvel Comics, and Superman and Batmanfrom DC Comics just to name a few). This is a light fun action movie, which falls in the middle range of the comic movie onslaught.
3 out of 5 stars.