Fantastic Four (2005)
Directed by: Time Story Rated: PG-13 Runtime: 1 hr. 45 mins.
Studio: 20th Century Fox Screenwriters: Mark Frost, Michael France, Stan Lee
Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon
When you’re too broke to go to space on a whim to research a cosmic event that might help improve humanity, where do you turn? Your old school mate to ask to borrow his space station. Even though you two can’t stand each other. What could go wrong when cosmic radiation is in the mix, and you’re too smart to ever be wrong?
The Fantastic Four has had a horrible journey to the silver screen every time someone needs to put them there. Put them there? Yeah. It’s pathetic that each of the times this superhero team has been made into a film, it’s so some company wouldn’t lose their rights to create or distribute it. The two are not mutually exclusive. There was a 1994 Fantastic Four film made, but it should never be brought up in conversations. It was so awful it was never released. Marvel extended the rights to Constantin Films to make something better within seven years. Enter 2005s Fantastic Four.
While the introduction to the plot is rushed, it gets you where you need to be. There is a strong character setup right out the gate. It sets up the situations or circumstances that helped shape the purpose of the first scenes. It comes across as organic, which is something you should expect in people with history.
Julian McMahon was a great choice to portray the villain, Dr. Victor Von Doom. In this iteration, he’s a massive company CEO, but he’s also a scientist. That’s not a spoiler, but it helps those that don’t follow along with comics because it’s not overtly stated in this film. Otherwise, he comes off as a rich guy who wants to live vicariously through others via a power trip when he goes to space. That’s in the trailer, so, also, not a spoiler.
Dr. Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, played by Ioan Gruffudd, has a history with Von Doom. That is displayed decently in this movie. You get the gist of their history without getting too deep. Gruffudd was a good casting choice for Richards, one he can act (like McMahon), and he looks like the image depicted in comics. When you first start off with a franchise based on something, it’s nice to stay faithful to the source material. It is what the fans are used to. Tweaking stuff can come later, depending on the box office results.
Tweaking stuff is the most basic explanation for what happens to the characters in this movie. Again, cosmic radiation is at play. None of them was “tweaked” more than Ben Grimes, the Thing, played by Michael Chiklis. Seeing emotion on his rock face is critical to connecting him to the human being he started off as. Chiklis did a decent job of performing (stunts) and acting (his lines) in that suit. With most superhero films’ costumes, I wonder how easy it is to get out of when you need to use the bathroom?
Decent acting is how Jessica Alba’s performance as Susan Storm/The Invisible Woman can be described. This is probably one of her better roles. She convincingly comes across as Reed’s irritated ex and Johnny’s annoyed sister. Her performance as The Invisible Woman was mediocre, but the script left her little to work within this area. Her character could have been developed better, but the movie itself was campy in many ways.
Campy, comedic-showboating, cheese describes many of the early 2000 films. However, in Fantastic Four, Chris Evans’s depiction of Johnny Storm/The Human Torch is gold. He’s cocky and impulsive with an obvious need for adrenaline. Yet, he also comes across as caring for Sue, Reed, and Ben. When he’s not annoying Ben like a little brother. Evans ability to bring to life this iconic character without going overboard is an aspect that makes this film fun to watch.
Kerry Washington is a stellar actress who is in only two scenes in this film. I want you to seriously consider if she’s a vampire. She has aged so well since this movie. Short though her part was, it is a humanizing connection for Ben’s character.
The movie moves at a pace that is balanced between the science and action sequences. At the time, this script’s casting choices were a fantastic mix (no pun, I swear) and performed better than this script deserved.
Fantastic Four has never been done right on the big screen, and it would take some magic to make it happen. Until a time comes when someone does this team/family justice, this adaptation is the best by far. So, if you want a fun watch that’s not too heavy with expectations of greatness, put Fantastic Four on your watchlist.
—a pen lady