After a scientific expedition on an orbiting space station is bombarded
by cosmic rays the 5 victims start to display amazing powers. Sue Storm
(Jessica Alba) can become invisible and project force fields. Reed
Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) can stretch his body to almost limitless
extremes. Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) is nearly impervious and has the
strength of many men, at the cost of looking like an orange rock. Johnny
Storm (Chris Evans) can emanate flames from his body, shoot fireballs
and he thinks he may be able to fly. Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon),
the owner of the space station starts to display immense power and his
skin starts to turn to metal. Doom, however has plans other than helping
others for his powers.........
Bit of background here. I was never the biggest F4 fan. I dipped in now
and again, I'm aware of the basic history of the characters and their
foibles. I am also largely aware of their foes, especially Doom as he
has appeared in many other comics over the years. As it happens, Doom is
one of my favourite Marvel Super-Villains.
Which makes this film all the harder to watch as they completely mess up
Doom. I'm not the anal type, but the decisions made around this
character are just silly. In the comics Doom is the dictator of a small
European country called Latveria (which is hinted at in the film). A bit
odd sounding, but it is markedly different from the usual guy falls into
toxic waste/radiation/some stuff gets powers and turns evil. So, what
have the filmmakers done? They've plonked Doom on the space station so
he becomes just another generic villain...... sigh.
He is also criminally underwritten. What are his goals? Pass, the movie
decides not to tell us. He just takes a dislike to the F4 and decides to
kill them. No agenda, no objectives, just random killing for the sake of
it. Which may have worked with another villain, but Doom is calculating,
smart. To treat him in this fashion is a complete and utter waste. The
guy that plays him is all wrong as well. Far too suave and smarmy. His
voice is all kinds of wrong after he dons the suit as well.
That's probably my biggest issue with the film. But, trust me, there are
How about the almost complete lack of action? You've seen the trailers
right? Well, you're going to wish you hadn't because without a word of a
lie, every single action beat in this film can be found in at least one
of the trailers. They held nothing back, there is like 2 action scenes
and the 'money shots' have been spoiled for months.
The effects range from the good (The Human Torch) to the embarrassing
(Mr Fantastic). How long has this film been in post? It looks like about
5 minutes at times. I applaud the decision to go with make-up for The
Thing though. I can't even contemplate how bad the CGI could have been
had they went down that route.
The film is all build up and little pay off. The finale is squeezed into
the last 10 minutes. The rest of the time is spent with the F4 as they
mope around the Baxter Building feeling sorry for themselves and arguing
amongst each other. I appreciate that this is an origin story, but it
could have been better paced than this. Look at Daredevil: Directors
Cut, Spider-Man & Batman Begins. All managed to have an origin and a
decent story. F4 is all origin no story.
So, what does work? Well, the F4 themselves work well. I like the
casting for them and the interplay is good. Especially between Evans and
Chilkis. This is easily the best part of the film. These two nail the
characters. Chilkis was always my choice for Ben Grimm, but I was wary
of Evans. He pulls it off though. The other two are good, but I have
issue with their ages, but it's not a big deal.
Director Tim Story is really quite anonymous here (as is composer John
Ottman). He fails to leave any kind of stamp on the film, it's like it
was filmmaking by committee. I fear for X3 as Bret Ratner is similarly
devoid of any kind of style to call his own.
I'm glad F4 did well at the box office opening weekend as it almost
guarantees a sequel. Which is a good thing, because like The Punisher
there is potential here with the casting and set-up. A sequel wouldn't
be burdened by the origin story and could spread it's wings. Find an
interesting director and get a solid script together and F4.2 could be a
As it stands F4.1 is just a hum-drum collection of poorly executed ideas
5/10 for Fantastic Four.
"They are trying to use the slaughter of innocent people to cow us, to
frighten us out of doing the things we want to do, of trying to stop us
going about our business as normal as we are entitled to do and they
should not and must not succeed. When they try to intimidate us, we will
not be intimidated, when they seek to change our country, our way of
life by these methods, we will not be changed. When they try to divide
our people or weaken our resolve, we will not be divided and our resolve
will hold firm. We will show by our spirit and dignity and by a quiet
and true strength that there is in the British people, that our values
will long outlast theirs. The purpose of terrorism is just that, it is
to terrorise people and we will not be terrorised."
Tony Blair - 07/07/05.