The legacy of the Marvel comics universe created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby expands into another movie franchise with the movie adaptation of the "Fantastic Four". The movie's plot is ripped straight from the pages of the comic books when the Four first appeared in 1961. Several attempts at bringing this story to the screen have been tried, yet this version reaches the finish line and arrives in surprisingly better condition than what the "Fantastic Four" advertising implies.
The movie provides an origin story of how a squad of scientists become reluctant superheroes who must come to terms with their new found powers. The team must learn how to work together to defeat a nemesis that was also born by the cosmic storm. Julian McMahon an actor from TV's tacky "Nip Tuck" series becomes the evil Victor Von Doom, and his awkward performance suits the role as he takes the small step of being a megalomaniac business executive into super villain.
The chemistry between the cast is cold at first, but as the adventure develops the relationships warm up and the tension between the fledgling team evolves into camaraderie that carries them to the end. The dorky Reed Richards and obnoxious Johnny Storm characters take a back seat to the movie's name brand talent that steal the show.
While her characters brother is the Human Torch, Jessica Alba as Sue Storm is the hottest person on screen and ignites her scenes despite sometimes-bland dialog. Casting directors surely had summer box office bank in mind while having Alba regularly strip down in the streets of Manhattan to become invisible.
After seeing some publicity photos, I first questioned the productions approach to the Thing character. The characters extreme appearance seemed like it would be best seen as a computer generated character like the "Hulk" movie had. Instead the "Fantastic Four" producers required Michael Chiklis to endure a three and half hour makeup treatment to transform him from the hardened tough guy best known for his leading role in the TV series "the Shield" into the orange rock laden hero known as the Thing. When you see it action the costume looks good and it works. The make up effects allow Chiklis to inhabit the character and carry the gruff demeanor of Ben Grimm into the Thing's rocky reality.
While the "Fantastic Four" doesn't have the singular focus of a "Spiderman" or "Batman" movie, and skews a bit older than the hip young "X-Men", The FF focuses on the day to day lives of the people beneath the costumes, and does a decent job of interpreting the comics legends into cinema stars.
Digging up my issues of John Byrne's run on the "Fantastic Four" for Movie Magazine, this is Purple.
© 2005 - Purple - Air Date: 7/6/05
USA / Germany - 2005