Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Action Fantastic Four (2005)

Fantastic Four (2005)

If the entire movie was like the final twenty minutes, it probably would have been enjoyable. Fantastic Four is a film that takes an obscene amount of time doing absolutely nothing of importance to make it worth seeing. We spend almost the entire runtime watching superhumans act like they don’t have powers, before getting one battle at the end which was only marginally exciting. As it turns out, the origin story for this group is so boring that it doesn’t deserve to be put onto film.

Our group members are as follows: Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), who eventually is able to stretch his body to unbelievable lengths and is eventually named Mr. Fantastic; Ben Grimm, a man who looks like the Hulk if he was made of stone, called The Thing; Johnny Storm (Chris Evans), who can light his body on fire, apparently to supernova levels and is called The Human Torch; and finally, there’s Susan Storm (Jessica Alba), who can turn invisible and make force fields with her mind. We’ll call her Invisible Woman.

How do these people gain these powers? Well, they decide to go up into space to research a cloud that Richards believes will allow them to cure diseases. However, Richards is broke, so he goes to Victor von Doom (Julian McMahon), who wants 75% of the profit from this endeavor if he chooses to finance it. He wagers that 25% of a billion dollars is still a lot of money for Richards, so they all go into space together. But the cloud decides to mess up their journey, arriving much earlier than anticipated. They can’t the ship’s shield up fast enough, and they all get zapped — except for Doom, who is inside the shield, but it turns out he gets hit anyway, so this point is almost completely pointless and I don’t know why the film stressed it so much.

The majority of the film is spent trying to reverse these transformations. That’s right. These people get extraordinary powers, ones that (most of them) can turn off and on at will, and they want to reverse the transformation. I understand it in the case of The Thing, who always stands out in a crowd and whose wife left him because of his appearance, but for the other characters, I have no idea why they’d want to go back to being normal. The Human Torch understands this, so he shows off a bit. But just a bit — we wouldn’t want things to get too exciting now, would we?

Doom becomes our villain, although his motives are unclear. He dislikes Richards because he and Susan used to be an item, and now are once again. Susan turned down his marriage proposal earlier in the film, and now he’s out for revenge, apparently. He turned metallic after exposure with the cloud, and also gained the ability to absorb and shoot electricity. If you’re expecting a final battle between the Fantastic Four and Dr. Doom, you’re correct. Good for you.

However, you’ll be disappointed to find out that the final fight is the only one in the entire film. Okay, there are a couple of minute-long skirmishes between two members of the Fantastic Four (The Thing fights The Human Torch at one point and Mr. Fantastic at another) but they don’t last, nor are they all that fun to watch. The rest of the film just deals with the characters meandering their way through life after being given these gifts, although they don’t take advantage of their new-found power all that frequently.

Really, not all that much happens throughout the film, which is the main problem. When you go into a superhero film, you usually want superheroes to act like superheroes. You want to see them use their powers whenever possible, because that’s the most fun part of being a superhero. You don’t want to wait until the very end of the movie to see them have a brawl, especially when that final fight doesn’t even come close to the excitement that some middle-of-the-road action scenes do in other superhero films.

Essentially, Fantastic Four wants to go the Unbreakable route; it wants to be a character drama where its characters just happen to have supernatural powers. But that only works when you have deep characters, something that Fantastic Four lacks. It’s characters not only have no depth, but their also inconsistent. For whatever reason, Susan and Richard are initially hostile toward one another. I figure it’s because they had a nasty breakup before the film starts (two years before, we’re told). But then they just become friends almost instantly, completely forgetting that they weren’t friendly earlier on. This is just one of numerous examples I could list regrading the character problems in this film, but it’s what stands out the most.

I suppose you’re wondering if there’s anything good about this film. Well, Michael Chiklis makes a great Thing, and actually manages to get some emotion into his performance, despite the fact that he’s enclosed within a big rocky suit that severely limits his facial expressions. Chris Evans makes a decent cocky character as well. Other performances were either bland or not worthy of mention.

In the end, Fantastic Four is a bad superhero film and an even worse film as a whole. It tries to be a character study, but lacks the characters to do that. As a result, the audience gets bored waiting for the action scenes when the characters get to use their powers. We have to wait almost two hours for that to happen, and it’s just insufferable waiting this long. The only reason to watch this film is to see a great realization of The Thing, although it’s not worth it to watch just for that.

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