Fantastic 4
Starring:
Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon
Directed By:
Tim Story
Grade
B-

I'll save you the long spiel about the transition of comics to mainstream blockbuster material. With the likes of X-Men and Spider-Man doing well in the theaters, one of Marvel's oldest properties finally gets a good shot at the big screen (Roger Corman's version doesn't count). While the plot takes some liberties with the original story, it does manage to bring the core of the original tale into modern-day.

The story begins as scientist Reed Richards and his longtime friend, pilot Ben Grimm, go to Victor Von Doom to propose using Von Doom's orbital station to perform a scientific study. At this time, Von Doom agrees but brings along brother and sister, Sue and Johnny Storm. Where the conflict lies in that Sue and Reed used to have a relationship, but his inability to deal with their relationship caused their split and now Sue works for Von Doom. Once on the space station, a space cloud makes an unexpectedly early arrival, destroying the station and irradiating the five-man crew.

Because of this, the five people begin to go through changes and react to these changes in different ways. Of the five, Johnny and Ben seem to take their changes in vastly different ways. Ever the extreme sportsman, Johnny finds his new power to cover himself in fire as a new way to show off. On the other hand, Ben's transformation turns him into a rocky monster that scares off his wife and makes even the smallest events more difficult for him.

After some time, the four main characters perform some heroic duties and become instantly famous. While this is going on, Victor Von Doom uses his own new powers to make a bid for more power. This bid for more power is what forces the final conflict between Doom and the Fantastic Four.

Anyone who has read the original comics (and I mean the early issues) knows that the characters were pretty dry and one-dimensional until some years of development fleshed out their relationships. Because of this, many of the characters may feel less than deep, but their main driving character traits do show up enough to establish the characters: Reed is guilt-ridden and bookish; Ben is short-tempered and down about his monstrous looks; Johnny is a volatile smart mouth who loves excitement. I have to give credit to the cast for making the most of their characters.

Special effects are pretty good without being overdone. The Thing's rubber suit looks a lot better in motion than in did in the prerelease set shoots. Some of the effects for the other heroes look pretty good, through they never really made a lot out of Mr. Fantastic's stretching ability except for a few scenes.

For the most part, the adventure is a good popcorn munching view. If anything can be said against the film, I would say that the direction is pretty pedestrian and by-the-numbers. There are some decent performances from the actors, but without a better script and direction, they never really excel. If you're looking for an entertaining film that has some good action and a few laughs, Fantastic 4 is worth your money.

- - Kinderfeld

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