July 19, 2005

Fantastic Four Review

I know I said I would post a review the night I saw the movie or at least the morning after. Wrong-o. Things sometimes get in the way and then it's almost a week later. Bad bad bad. Here's the review I promised. No fluff, just the facts you need in case you haven't seen it yet.

The movie is basically good. Fans of the comic will definitely want to see it, since it naturally brings their favorite heroes to life. What it also does, and which will irritate fans of the comic (the yin the yang) is that they've messed up the origins just a tad. For one, they've included Victor Von Doom on board the space station (yes, it's a space station now, not a rocket as in the 1960's original story) and he gets clobbered with cosmic rays along with the rest of the FF. In the original comic, Doom was an old classmate of Reed Richard's who had a laboratory accident that terribly scarred his face and became bitter and bent on using his knowledge for evil. Not so in the movie. He's in space with the rest of the crew, and he's the financier to boot, paying for the whole thing.

Another change is the whole Susan Storm thing. She's immediately made out to be Von Doom's love interest, which to my recollection, NEVER happened in the comics. There was a love interest who was also a villain, and it was Namor, the Sub Mariner.
As the movie goes on, it becomes more and more apparent that the love interest was one-sided, with Von Doom having feelings for Sue, but not having those feelings returned. She eventually sides with Reed Richards, the way things were always meant to be.

So, what's good about this movie? Just about everything else. The acting is OK, but not great. Hey, it's a superhero movie. Deal with it. You want oscar-nominated performances, go see Cinderella Man (it's great).

The transformation from Ben Grimm into the Thing is well done. The whole Invisible Woman thing is played tongue in cheek. Perhaps her true power will be more played up in the sequel, as will the stretching ability of Mr. Fantastic. The Human Torch is played very well and gets lots of screen time, being the charismatic, hot head this tends to work well toward lots of good action and tension. A nice touch is the bickering between Ben and Johnny, who certainly had their share of fights over the years in the comics. This is portrayed well here, such as when Ben crumples up and hands Johnny's Porsche to him in a big metal ball. Funny stuff, and taken right from the comics, in spirit if not from an actual story.

Also taken straight from the comics is the conflict in Ben Grimm. He's the only one of the group that was adversely affected by his newfound powers. The rest all kept their normal looks but gained new abilities. He changed completely, both in abilities and appearance. And the movie, as did the comics, spends much of it's time delving into that.

One of the shockers of the movie is when Von Doom himself starts changing. In the comics he creates his suit of armor and mask to hide himself from the outside world because of his scarring. In the movie he slowly changes into Doctor Doom, his skin oozing out a metal substance that slowly becomes his skin due to the cosmic radiation. A small change but one which made the film feel less true, in my opinion.

To sum it up without giving all the plot points away, it was a good use of less than 2 hours of my time, and I walked away feeling pretty good about it. I definitely see room for improvement, but it was nowhere near the slog-fest I thought it would be from reading all the negative reviews. If you're inclined and on the fence about going to see it, my advice is give it a shot. It's not that bad.

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