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 Fantastic Four
 Critic's Rating
   [C]
 Date Posted
   19th July, 2005
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Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba
Director: Tim Story

'Fantastic Four' is a film made using the lowest common denominator approach to movie making. Focusing more on comic that anything else, the eventual result is funny but not exactly a whole lot of fun.

Considering simple probability, for every rewarding experience such as 'Spiderman 2' and most recently 'Batman Begins', the chances of the trend continuing over time with the same high performance results go down. In the case of 'Fantastic Four' this could be because of the persistence by director Tim Story and his squad of screenwriters at treating the source material as some kind of elaborate joke that the audience can heartily laugh at. The delivered package thus has a little bit of everything but not strongly enough to carve an identity for itself.

Rushing through the initial exposition we see the usual origin story. Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), a fallen scientist, and his friend, Benjamin Grimm (Michael Chiklis), seek the financial assistance and backing of rival Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon). When they reach an agreement, they head off to space accompanied by Reed's former flame Susan (Jessica Alba) and her cocky brother Johnny (Chris Evans), to study a solar storm, but end up being showered by it. Returning back to Earth, each undergoes a transformation, the result of which is a superhero team of four powerful beings that bicker amongst each other and one aimless villain without a plan to execute.

The effects of each super being, with the exception of the stretching abilities of Mr. Fantastic, are mostly well done, but the entire flow of the movie is almost devoid of anything a viewer can't discern himself. Case in point is when Johnny Storm who can enflame himself, goes snow boarding after his return to Earth and, well, self-combusts. Ben Grimm, who is given the moniker 'The thing' for being a hulking figure of rocks, has his pitiful condition become a humour inducing mechanism; a better movie might have taken advantage of the setup to invoke human empathy, not play for big laughs at every opportunity.

The first rule of every superhero movie, a tricky one to execute, is to imbibe characters with enough human charisma for the eventual transformation to be both meaningful and acceptable. Here it's none of that. Johnny Storm for example, a goofball who wouldn't pass for a burger flipper, here masquerades as an astronaut. Doctor Doom is a villain created out of jealousy, causing little panic or fear as a result. He takes almost the entire length of the movie cooking up his scheme, leaving him with a paltry final act to make the execution.

Without even being aware of the comic book angle, it's easy to tell that this isn't done completely right. When the movie decides to get serious, its feels like phoney, forceful emotion because the overall tone of the film has already set in. Admittedly, I have a soft spot for movies based on comic books, but not soft enough to really end up liking or recommending this to a great extent, even though some of it is undeniably fun to watch. This superhero family may end up being fantastic, but they're definitely not Incredible. - Faizan Rashid

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