Wednesday, July 13, 2005
One Final FANTASTIC FOUR Movie Review
That is until now.
First, if you hadn't already guessed, I'm a big Fantastic Four fan. My all time favorite superhero/adventure comic series starring my all time favorite superhero/adventure character, Ben Grimm, The Thing. So while I really enjoyed seeing the recent Spider-Man and X-Men films, the good Bat Man films and film series like Star Wars and Indiana Jones, THIS has been the movie I've been waiting for.
(and yes, I've seen the '94 Roger Corman low budget version, and while it had all good intentions, it fell really short of the mark)
I had originally intended to see this much anticipated film (for me at least) at a Midnight show Thursday night (I love those midnight shows). According to Moviefone.com my local cinema had a midnight show-
-which was news to my local cinema. (what had I learned? Once again, don't take what you read on Moviefone.com as gospel.................. cause it ain't.)
Anyhoo, had to settle on a Friday night show. Not wanting to deal with the early evening crowds I opted for the 10 PM show. I was home watching the ball game (thanks MLB Package) and would have easily made the show, had the Pirates simply crumbled and lost to the Mets 5-1. But, thankfully, the Buccos rallied for an unlikely comeback by tying the game 5-5 with two outs in the 9th and then win it 6-5 in the 10th. All this of course, ran past my 10 PM show, but luckily they'd scored the winning run at 10:15 and allowed me to catch the 10:30 show, the last showing of the night.
So, finally, I'm in the theatre watching some good (King Kong) and bad (a Zorro sequel??) trailers until finally, the show begins....
By now, I'm sure you know the gist of the story of the Fantastic Four. Four people are exposed to Cosmic Rays and are forever changed, developing super powers. They choose to use these new abilities towards the benefit of mankind.
So how did the movie do? How did the writers, director and actors help convey an adaptation some 44 years in the making?
Now this wasn't "my" Fantastic Four. The origin had been changed, in order to fit a two hour film and to make a little bit of sense. In 1961 it was OK to try and beat the "Commies" to the moon, and if you want to bring along your girlfriend and her kid brother, sure, why not. Having Sue with a science background and Johnny as a hotshot pilot made sense to bring them along.
Tying in Victor Von Doom (the soon to be Dr. Doom) in with the origin is also different, and I personally don't think they needed to do that, but it doesn't kill the film for me. I learned my lesson way back when, when I was one of the masses who decried the "organic web shooters" change in the Spider-Man films. I admit I was wrong then and in order to shoe horn Doom as this films' villain I can live with his origin tied in with the FF.
The casting: Jessica Alba as Sue and Ioan Gruffudd as Reed are OK, not who I'd have chosen, but McMahon as Victor works and of course Chris Evans steals every scene he's in as Johnny, but what about the most important part? Could they pull it off?
Michael Chiklis IS Ben Grimm and he IS the Thing!!! No doubt about it. I had read that he wanted this part, that he was a long time fan of the character and it REALLY shows. And talk about pictures' NOT telling the whole story, every still photo of Chiklis as the Thing looked, well, cheesy. It looked like a guy in a suit. But NOT on the screen! You will believe that a man can be made of orange rock!
At times I'd wish they had slowed things down a bit, took more time to develop the characters and their growing celebrity (their instant fame from just the bridge rescue wasn't enough for me) and though they introduced Alicia (the blind sculptress who would steal Ben's heart) they didn't give the audience enough of the character and how important she is with Ben's decision at the end.
But what they got right; how absorbed Reed gets in his lab (much to the chagrin of Sue), Victor's vanity, the squabbling family aspect of the four and especially the mischievous pranks between Johnny and Ben all looked as if they leapt straight from the pages by Jack & Stan!
So forget what all those critics have been saying. Hell, Ebert hasn't liked a non foreign - subtitled film in years, and if I hear one more pontificating wordsmith complain that this film isn't dark or gritty like Burton's Bat Man, well guess what folks, the Fantastic Four ISN'T grim and gritty.
Stan & Jack's FF was a family. A family like yours or mine, with the exception of having super powers and going on adventures. The comics were monthly adventures that were exciting, dramatic, but above all FUN.
And that's exactly what this picture is.
Fantastic Four get's a "Clobbering Time!"