Fantastic Four (PG)Thursday 21 Jul 2005
Directed by Tim Story, starring Ioan Gruffudd, Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Julian McMahon.
What has been dubbed 'The Greatest Comic in the World' comes to life in the summer blockbuster 'Fantastic Four'. 44 years ago the Fantastic phenomenon began, and now following in the footsteps of Marvel Comics' 'Spider-Man' and 'X-Men', this is the latest to hit the big screen. Using CGI that wasn't even available a year ago, 'Fantastic Four' has been brought to full-bodied life, leaving the comic world behind.
Following a 'family' of superheroes who have no secret identities, it's time for four astronauts to fight evil with their new superpowers.
Reed Richards (Gruffudd) is a passionate scientist, astronaut and an unassuming inventor leading an exhibition into space. He plans on flying into a cosmic storm in a bid to unlock the secrets of human genetic codes. His old college rival, and now billionaire industrialist, Victor Von Doom (McMahon) is funding the expedition.
The two set off into space along with Reed's astronaut best friend Ben Grimm (Chiklis), Richards' ex-girlfriend and Von Doom's director of genetic research, Sue Storm (Alba), and her pilot brother Johnny (Evans).
Everything is going smoothly in space until Reed discovers a miscalculation of the speed of the approaching storm. Within minutes, the space-station is engulfed by cosmic radiation, which changes the crew's DNA makeup. Back on earth each crew member discovers they have new powers: Reed becomes Mr Fantastic, who can stretch and contort his body into any shape; Sue is now the Invisible Woman; Johnny is the Human Torch and Ben turns into the gigantic, rock-like The Thing.
Embittered by the failed mission, which led to the fastest freefall in the stock market since the Depression, Von Doom harbours great resentment for Reed. Gradually, he turns into steel - steel fists, steel face, steel body and steel heart. His genetic change, combined with his anger, makes him a force to be reckoned with, as he sets out on his rampage as Dr Doom. The Fantastic Four must defeat the baddie to save themselves, and the people, from his evil hands.
The Human Torch is probably the most exciting hero to watch, while the evil Victor Von Doom is just great at being bad. His charisma and sadism steal the show from the all too-cold Reed Richards. For a scientist, Richards has an amazing ability to defy science - sometimes seeming lifeless, always lacking chemistry. Sue Storm also steals his thunder because she is not simply a little helpless girl, she has substance. Where a girl and a nemesis are necessities for a superhero, Mr Fantastic himself is overshadowed by both. Is this endearing? No. Does it work? Definitely not. It's hard to feel anything for him.
When looking at the downfalls of this film, it becomes clear the focus was on the action, the passionate bringing to life of the superpowers more so than developing the superheroes. They all need a little more oomph, in Richards' case, a lot of oomph and a lot of personality. Overlooking this and some atrocious extras, 'Fantastic Four' is quality entertainment and offers more than you'd expect.
Next time 'round in the sequel (and there will be a sequel), maybe they'll develop the characters more. But for now, be content in the fact that the abilities of the Fantastic Four have definitely been proven.