Im not a closet comic book movie fan; Im a fan of good movies - no matter the source material. And on the opposite side of that coin, I dislike having to sit through movies that come unglued an hour into the production, whether they are comic book adaptations or a retelling of a classic Jane Austen piece.
"Fantastic Four," for all of its super effects and glossy finish, is a hollow movie experience. Its kind of pretty to look at but theres just not that much going on beneath the surface, which sort of reminds me of some Hollywood stars, but I digress.
The story as laid out in the film version of the "Fantastic Four" follows Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), a brilliant but broke scientist and his good buddy Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) as they go against everything they know is right and ask Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon) for help with an experiment thats sure to make them all rich and famous or even wealthier and more famous in the case of Von Doom.
The backstory thats quickly laid out in the opening moments of the film lets us uninitiated Fantastic Four viewers in on the secret that Von Dooms beautiful assistant, Sue Storm (Jessica Alba), once had a relationship with Richards before determining that he was just like most men (yes, thats a snide remark but I couldnt resist). Reeds spoke without thinking and didnt pay enough attention to their relationship so now shes moved on to the handsome Von Doom, a narcissistic businessman who in all honesty cares for her less than he cares for his mirror. Im dwelling on the relationship aspect of the storyline as thats basically what the films all about. Sure there are special effects, and theres the requisite bad guy who needs to be dealt with, but the movies really all about the relationships between the members of the Fab Four I mean Fantastic Four.
Sue and her pilot/GQ model-type brother Johnny (Chris Evans) fight like cats and dogs, Richards sidekick Ben and Johnny have what can only be described as a hate-hate relationship, Reed and Sue have a history thats a major speed bump when they have to deal with one another, and Von Doom (not a member of the Four but an insider nonetheless) and Reed dislike each other mainly because of Sue.
So whats the point of the film? Even after sitting through it Im not sure. Fantastic Four spends 30 or so minutes really setting everything up and then another half an hour letting the five main characters adapt to the changes their bodies have undergone during a freak storm in space. Sue becomes invisible, Johnny turns into a huge fireball at will, Reed transforms into a bendable buddy, Ben gets the raw end of the deal and becomes a giant rock monster called The Thing, and Von Doom turns into metal (theres more to it than that but you get the point). Once the movie hits the midpoint and the superheroes and Von Doom start to deal with their new abilities, the film loses momentum and the story falls apart. No one really wants their powers, the bad guy isnt as intriguing or even as evil as the villains featured in most comic book movies, and other than a few lively bits of comic relief courtesy of Evans, the dialogue is dull and wimpy more yawn-inducing than anything.
As for the effects and the acting, weve seen much, much better in both categories. This felt like a throwback to the mid '90s style of effects and honestly theres no logical reason this shouldnt have wowed us. The technology is there, other films have effectively used it, but Fantastic Four gave us old-style invisible scenes and hokey fight sequences. And only Michael Chiklis, Chris Evans, and to some extent Julian McMahon emerge from this unscathed as far as their acting reps go. Jessica Albas pretty but one-dimensional (it could have just been the material, well give her the benefit of the doubt) and Ioan Gruffudd is out of place and totally unbelievable as Mr Fantastic. And dont get me started on the obvious age differences of the three involved in the love triangle.
I know Ill get hate mail for this but Id rather my superhero movies feature either characters who are horribly tormented or who accept and embrace their superhero qualities. The middle of the road path Fantastic Four treads doesnt cut it. In all fairness, maybe thats straight out of the comic book so it was necessary for the film to take that direction. But whether or not thats true doesnt really matter as the result is a very tedious experience. The four heroes spend more time arguing with each other and using their newfound super powers against one another than is really necessary. If it was done to setup the characters and prepare the audience for a sequel, it didnt work. I dont want to see another Fantastic Four movie. One is more than enough, thank you very much.