July 27, 2005

Fantastic Four

A half-hearted superhero movie, FF gets the B-list treatment compared to A-list projects like Batman Begins and the Spider-Man movies. The B-level budget is evident not so much in what we see but what we don't. Some of the special effects are very good, but there's not enough of them- it feels like they scaled back the scope of the movie. For example, we only see Mr. Fantastic stretch (up close) twice, and we don't see Ben Grimm becoming The Thing.
The movie is an origin story: Act One- The FF plus Doom get soaked in cosmic rays, become superpowered. Act Two-- The FF learn how to use their powers, while Doom starts losing his grip. Act Three-- The FF fight Dr Doom for a few minutes, and the movie is over. What's the point in wasting our time with an origin story if there are no adventures to follow it? Batman Begins, Spider-Man, and The Hulk are also origin stories, they're all 15-35 minutes longer, and do not feel as abbreviated. Plus, those three movies were good enough to merit sequels, whereas FF felt like the studio crippled it with a small budget.
The cast is talented but not star material: Ioan Gruffudd (Horatio Hornblower) is capable as the earnest, boring egghead Reed Richards. Jessica Alba (age 24) was much better in Sin City. In order placate comic book fanboys, they remake the olive-skinned brunette Alba into a blonde-haired, green eyed Susan Storm, to ill effect. As a result, I found myself distracted from her acting (and her hotness) by her pasty complexion and miscolored irises. Boston native Chris Evans (Not Another Teen Movie) almost saves the movie with his 'I'm not taking this too seriously' attitude. Boston native Michael Chiklis (The Shield) is surprisingly good as The Thing- the orange latex suit he wears is surprisingly convicing- much better than it looks in the commercials. Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck) never transcends TV-quality menace as Dr. Doom- his unearthly dark black eyebrows are a distraction in every scene. Boston native and Emerson College grad Maria Menounos has an extended cameo as Sexy Nurse. (Loews Boston Common)