Richard reviews Fantastic Four

FantasticFourGroupPic.jpgAll the production news, pre-release rumour and reviews were all pointing towards this being a bad movie. I was waiting for and expecting it, but as someone who has grown up reading comics, these years are the ones we are looking forward to. Our comic heroes are coming to the big screen and they are coming in droves, and not in eighties low budget style, but in big screen and with big budgets.

Basically I couldn’t miss this, I couldn’t dare, despite what people said about it. Yet I still feared the worst.

The early news that the latter portions of the movie were entirely re-written and re-cut during the editing process without the actors was worrying, and then seeing the reviews and the hefty defence of the movie by the Studio and actors was worrying.

Something you have to think about with the characters in Fantastic Four is that they aren’t like characters like Batman. Batman is hard edged, real, gritty, violent. Where the line between good and bad is bigger than the black and white put together, and that’s where the Batman character lives.

Fantastic Four is a lighter base of characters and stories, like Spiderman and such. There are clearer sides to be drawn on good and bad, and the characters stay there. The world is more fantasy than real, and with that I went to see the Fantastic Four.

I’m going to pause you again while I give my first, and biggest thanks to Georgie at the Ocean Terminal Vue in Edinburgh. She’s being fantastic about helping me out with movie viewing for the site, actually more helpful than any other cinema in Edinburgh that I’ve talked to. So with that I say support the Vue cinema at Ocean Terminal – it’s a great cinema, and fab hotdogs!

Okay, so to the movie. It starts off really fast, and keeps going like that. You really do notice that the story goes along faster than most other movies. Development of the characters before anything happens to them is out the window and before your seat is warm the team are in space and being hit by a storm.

Now this isn’t really a bad thing because firstly the pace of the movie seems pretty even, there’s no point you’re wishing it would either hurry up or slow down, it seems quite well paced throughout. Secondly, the character development isn’t really forgotten, it’s bundled in with the rest of the story, and this makes for a refreshing change. After all the story is about the Fantastic Four and Dr Doom, so let’s see them.

Character development is pretty loose on Mr Fantastic, Invisible Woman (I can’t use the word girl when referring to Jessica Alba) and Von Doom. What you get is the bare minimum to set them up for the second film. The characters that we see a bit more of are Thing and Torch, and this is also good for they are at loggerheads from the beginning of the movie and are two entirely different characters.

Thing is a family man, gentle and caring, and very thoughtful of others. Torch is a wild young guy who likes extreme sports and thinks only of himself. They’re shown quite well, and the cheese factor seen in some of the trailers is not so apparent when you see the movie itself.

For me the characters of Doom, Torch and Thing stand out the most. Doom is played by Julian McMahon very well, he’s evil and self centred, making him an excellent choice for the new Hitcher role. His slow move to internal destruction and total acceptance of evil is well done, and his little nuances are good fun to watch.

Chris Evans has some superb lines to deliver and delivers them with spot on timing. He’s funny, and the comedy works. Michael Chiklis looks very at home in this role, although I kept thinking of Vic at certain points in the movie he did manage to shake the bad image quite well. He shows his trouble with accepting who he has become even through that huge suit, and you just can’t help but like the character.

The film really is a setup for the following movies, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but you have to remember what this is. It’s not gritty, meaty, thoughtful material. This is fun entertainment. Sit back and enjoy a comic ride, and it does work. I left having been entertained, and although I quickly moved on to think of other things, I still enjoyed it. Just because it is a comic adaptation, do not judge it with the same eye as Batman.

Action is what makes the most of this movie. The set pieces are well conceived and orchestrated, particularly the early bridge piece that introduces the world to the characters.

I’m not going to slate this movie, it’s not fantastic, but it is good entertainment and opens the way for a strong series. The characters are good, with Torch, Doom and Thing stealing the show, and the action is strong as well. It’s worth a watch if you don’t fancy something to make you think too much, but do want to come away feeling you enjoyed yourself. Just remember two things, it’s light, and it’s entertainment. It’s a popcorn movie.

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12 thoughts on “Richard reviews Fantastic Four

  1. I finally say it yesterday, too. Excellent. Truly in the same vein as the comics, they did particularly well on the Human Torch, too often do they try too hard to make the cool characters “cool” with cheezy one liners – none of that here.

    I needn’t have been worried about Thing (although hearing him say ‘Vic’ referring to Dr. Doom is wierd) as his character was excellently played.

    I can’t wait for Dr. Doom to heal, so we can have our sequel :D

  2. Finally saw it last night and I must say I enjoyed it tremendously. I cant wait for the sequel. And I agree that now that we have been “introduced” to the characters, (although I already know them from reading the comics) expect a lot more action in the future installments.

    I thought it was Fantastic.

  3. The space station may have had creditors, and it wouldn’t be hard to write one off, considering repair costs in space.

    I haven’t seen it yet, but later of today I’m planning to, before it stops showing.. I’ll let you know what I think then :)

    It’s was one of my favorite comics, I’m kinda excited, but Vic Mackey as The Thing?

    We’ll see.

  4. Oh, I should probably admit that I did find it a little unbelievable that their failed trip into space bankrupted Doom’s multi-billion dollar company and ruined him financially. Sure, a trip into space would be crazy expensive, but they went up to his company’s private space station so it’s not like they weren’t making regualr trips into space already. And the whole station couldn’t have been destroyed in the storm, or none of them would have made it back to earth alive.

  5. I agree with your review 100%. I finally went and saw this movie last week, and I have to say that I really enjoyed it. Since it opened in theaters I have read reviews about how awful it was, and seeing it really made me wonder about the reviewers’ perspective. The humor worked, the effects were great, the plot…well, the basic plot was pretty much a rip off of the first Spider-man, so I’m not very clear on how they can knock it for anything other than lack of originality. The arguments that Dr. Doom had no greater purpose other than destroying the Fantastic Four may have been factually accurate, but why is that a negative? I’ve gotten pretty tired of the save-the-world plots, and I really appreciate the fact that this story focused a little more on character and creation rather than rushing through that aspect of the story to get to the “real story.” I think it was Chris Evans who said in an interview that now that they’ve dealt with the creation story, the next movie can have a little more meat to it. I think he’s dead on. I am really looking forward to the next installment of this franchise.

  6. Cheers Matt. I’ll check out your interview…did you get a date? ;)

    I think you’re spot on with that comment, and it’s what I think too. They’ve just sat down expecting more meat and bones, and there’s just popcorn entertainment, and good popcorn entertainment too.

  7. Nice one Richard – I enjoyed it too (my review will be up in the morning but my interview with Alba et al is up now over at Darkmatters)…

    Think the US critics ( who seem to have been much harder on it than the UK ones )just weren’t prepared to kick back and enjoy an ‘easy on the eye / brain bit of comic book fluff?’

  8. You didnt say anything about Ioan Gruffudd’s performance, was it really bad as the reviews were saying?

    Anyway, what a fair review, I cant wait to see this one now! ;-)

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