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July 2005

By Julian Roman

The Fantastic Four

Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Director: Tim Story
Producers: Avi Arad, Michael Barnathan, Chris Columbus, Bernd Eichinger, Ralph Winter
Screenwriters: Michael France and Mark Frost, based on the comic book by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Cinematographer: Oliver Wood
Composer John Ottman
Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington




Comic book adaptations seemed to be getting better recently and with the success of "Batman Begins"; I truly believed that the bar had been raised for such films. Then I sat through the "Fantastic Four" and had my expectations put properly in check. Hollywood has once again ruined a superhero film. Fantastic Four is terribly miscast. It's poorly written, visually uninteresting, and worst of all, boring. The film drags considerably. There are huge gaps without any action and it brings the pacing to an unbearable crawl.

The film follows the comic book origins initially with Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffud), Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), Sue Storm (Jessica Alba), Johnny Storm (Chris Evans), and Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon) genetically altered by a solar storm in space. They're granted super powers by the accident and are forced to deal with the changes in their own way. Ben Grimm has the hardest time because his physical appearance is so drastically changed. His skin turns to rock and his world falls apart after his fianc? leaves him. Victor Von Doom (aka Dr. Doom) also undergoes a physical change, but he embraces his new power and uses it to further his own ambition. He feels betrayed by Sue Storm's feelings for Reed Richard and vows to destroy him at all costs.

Jessica Alba and Ioan Gruffud are completely miscast. They have no chemistry whatsoever. We are supposed to believe they are former lovers and are rekindling the flame after the accident. It doesn't work and the actors look awkward delivering their awful dialogue. Also, Sue Storm and Johnny Storm are supposed to be siblings. Jessica Alba and Chris Evans look nothing like each other. Evans does a banner job playing the cocky and arrogant Johnny Storm, but Alba fails in her attempt to play the older, wiser sister. Their interaction looks forced and unnatural. It's a key character element to the story and it doesn't work at all.

The special effects in the film are sub-par. The most important visual shots are Johnny Storm's flames and his ability to fly. It's the lynchpin of the film and it's not impressive. Ben Grimm's costume looks like it's made out of orange cardboard. Reed Richard's stretching power is about as bad as CGI gets. There's just nothing remotely inspiring to see. There is an awe factor that is inherent to a good superhero film and Fantastic Four is utterly lacking in that sense.

Tim Story, the director of the film, is a promising talent; but didn't have the right vision for this type of genre. The script is weak, but I can't help but feel that a more entertaining film could have been gleaned from it. The parts did not add up correctly and unfortunately the director has to take a hit for that mistake. Let's hope for a better film in the future. The Fantastic Four, a beloved comic for forty years, deserve it.