Fantastic Four

Dan Movie Reviews

Based on the comic book of the same name, Fantastic Four is Marvel’s latest film adaptation. Unlike Elektra which was a miserable film whose only excuse was to show us Jennifer Garner running around in a red bra and miniskirt, Fantastic Four is a decent film that gives us an excuse to watch Jessica Alba run around in a bra. Well, only for a few scenes. Technically, I guess, we didn’t really see her, since she was invisible half that time. Oh well.

Basic premise is thus: a cosmic storm allows a bunch of scientists the opportunity to study the effects it might have on DNA, except that they get caught in the storm, and it alters them. You have Mr. Fantastic (who can stretch like plasticman), The Invisible Woman (who can also shoot force fields), the Human Torch (who can fly cuz he’s so flaming and fast), and The Thing, which is an invincible rock-man. And then there’s the evil guy, Dr. Doom, who can shoot electricity.

The problem with the film is that most of the time the story is spent setting up the characters and there is very little payoff, and the plot is too simple to be worthy of the big screen. It’s a “genesis” story, I guess, in the way that Batman Begins was a genesis story. Except that this time, you can tell exactly what is going to happen almost every step along the way.

What makes the Fantastic Four a unique set of superheroes is that they’re not hiding behind a hidden identity. There is no Clark Kent to their Superman. No Bruce Wayne to their Batman. You get the idea. In fact, one of the film’s plots is about them learning to embrace their celebrity status. Mkay, sure, no prob.

The film was directed by Barbershop director Tim Story, and he does an adequate job. I think most of the issues came from the script, not the direction. Visually, though, he didn’t really have a style that stood out – it was straighforward, by-the-book filmmaking. The visual effects ranged from very good (some shots during the fire-engine/car crash segment on the bridge), to mildly weak (some of the cosmic storm stuff).

Musically, John Ottman’s score is good, and has some great themes, but gets lost within the sound mix, and suffered from some overzealous editing. But when you shoot re-shoots two weeks after the composer has finished recording the music, and has left for Australia, I suppose that’s bound to happen. With 90-minutes of score recorded, there are only 60-minutes within the film itself. And only 45 minutes will be on the soundtrack album. You do the math.

The film overall was light summer fare – enjoyable and entertaining, but ultimately forgettable. Perhaps the DVD will provide some more interesting stuff (including the possibility of some behind-the-scenes scoring session footage shot by yours truly)! So perhaps you should hold out for a rental.