Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Fantastic Four - Flame On!, people!

I know, I know, I'm on a superhero kick. But I'm really having a good time with myself. Many people hated this movie but I kind of liked it. It tells the story of how our superhero friends Sue and Johnny Storm (brother and sister), Ben Grimm and Reed Richards become The Fantastic Four. Oh, and Dr. Doom too. I think my favorite character was Chris Evans as The Human Torch. Although I couldn't believe that he could have been a real astronaut I could believe he rides a motorcycle and looks sexy with his shirt off. And when he finally learned to fly all torched up it was really exciting! His antics teasing Ben Grimm and setting things on fire brought some comic relief to a film dulled by the performances of Jessica Alba and Ioan Gruffud. Those two were really boring.

Ioan played Reed pretty straight - the scientist geek loses the girl as well as his pride and has no qualms about a little boot licking to further his research. I understood he needed to make a journey into his leadership role but even in the end you could tell he was always going to be a pansy. But good old Ioan (IMDB kindly provides a helpful pronunciation guide for his name "YO-an") doesn't seem to have the chops to be a top loser scientist. Too young perhaps? I can't put my finger on it but there is no way this guy went to MIT. I saw Good Will Hunting and I KNOW.

I thought Jessica was a little weak as well. I was completely hooked on her in the series Dark Angel so I'm no stranger to her being a superhero. But someone effed up her makeup and she looked really reddish-beige all over. Her constant hen pecking of Johnny and pining for Reed was a turn off.

Michael Chiklis rocks as The Thing (no pun intended) and even manages to show emotional pain after his transformation. He notes that he's the only one who doesn't get to stay his sexy self, and that's rough. And with a heart of gold all he's trying to do is get our lovebirds, Sue and Reed back together. Awww. At least they give him proper manpris, instead of the blue underpants of the comic.

Know what's been killing me about these two movies? Spider-Man 2 and Fantastic Four? The crowds. Both movies are set in New York and there you have our intrepid New Yorkers enjoying their new superhero citizens. "Spider-Man, take me!" and "There's the Invisible Girl!" Instead of screaming in fear and running for their lives folks are down with old Spidey and The 'Four. X-Men's premise is the division between human and mutant so there's no such hammy friendliness. But I'll hit that in another post.

Although the film is bloodless as anticipated Dr. Doom has no trouble putting large holes in the middle of his enemies' bodies. I thought that was a little edgy - "hey, he didn't just knock that guy down with his electric blast!" That surprised me a little. Julian McMahon brought a level of evil smarminess to the role and I sincerely didn't like him. I guess that's good acting.

See? Fantastic Four was good. The action was good, the CGI was better than Spider-Man 2 - Reed is SUPPOSED to look rubbery, and Johnny Storm was excellent eye candy. Oh, and I'm sure Jessica was too. But I think if you're looking for a movie just to see her you'd do better with Into the Blue.


Chris said...

I used to read the Fantasic Four before I developed any particular bias for specific comics. I'd read FF alongside Archie comics, for instance. When I got a little more advanced, I realized I hated the FF because it was just a bunch of family squabbles with aliens and comic beings in the background. It was also groundbreaking for this reason.

What Marvel did best in the 60's was introduce characters with whom you could completely relate. You'd think, "Wow, Spidey's just a kid with problems just like me," or, "Hey, Ben and Johnny make me think of my brothers."

So, what the film did fairly well was keep us in that mindset of a family having rough times now that they have powers. In fact, I think the main problem the film had was that it knew it HAD to be an action/effects movie, but really wanted to stay true to the family angst of the FF.

I think Dr. Doom's interweaving was actually better than the original comic version, and that the smarmy badguy role worked fairly well. I agree that Johnny was probably the best thing. Even the mighty Michael, who's a fine actor, didn't really blow my skirt up as the thing.

Thanks for a great review.

Nairobi Paul said...

Hi Annette. Got to your site via Chris. Good reviews!

Dunno if you saw the latest X-men & if so what you thought of it. My brother recommended it for me & my boys to see. (My wife would probably pass.)