By now any self-respecting action film fan or comic book geek knows that Fantastic Four (or The Fantastic Four, if you like your grammar correct) was the 11th highest grossing film of 2005. It’s also likely that The Chronicles of Narnia:
Jesus, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will push it down to 12th, once it’s all said and done. Fantastic Four was also not a very good film. Disappointing really isn’t the word, because I didn’t have much hope for this one which actually might explain why I have a few nice things to say about it!
I didn’t hate it and actually found something redeemable here. How so? Please continue, faithful readers!
As far as criticism goes, this was a terribly underwritten film. The characters were shallow, Jessica Alba‘s Sue Storm in particular. This one’s a real shame because it was yet another chance for Hollywood to reach out to a generation of girls with a strong female hero. Fox and Marvel get half marks with the female characters from X-Men (although one of them died and Halle Berry‘s Storm should have been and maybe will be a MUCH stronger character).
Unfortunately, Sue Storm is not nearly as powerful as her character in the comics and while she has some good lines and is a valued member of the team, the role didn’t seem to have been written for someone as young as Alba. Her work in Fox TV’s Dark Angel proves she can pull off the physical acting, so here’s hoping she gets to mix it up a bit more in the sequel.
An additional failure of the film which it shares with the first X-Men flick is that most audiences don’t know how these heroes became that way and as anyone who’s ever read comics knows (guilty as charged!) the origin is a big part of what makes a hero (or villain) a compelling character.
As a result, the first third or more of the film was completely devoid of “Bang!” “Pow!” “Crash!” and other onomatopoeia due to the need to tell the character’s origins (which were somewhat different from the comic in order to introduce Julian McMahon’s Victor von Doom). This is the same problem that befell X-Men and to a lesser extent, Spider-Man. The sequels of both of these films were superior to the original and one might only hope that the same holds true for FF2.
However, I come to praise F4, not to bury it.
This film actually has a few things going for it…if you’re somewhere between 10 and 14. There’s a fair amount of fun action, a strong female lead (here’s hoping the writers give her more to do in the sequel) and positive messages abound, especially regarding a person’s outward appearance. The filmmakers might do well to play up the fact that the Fab Four were the first major super heroes not to have secret identities. Not treating them as freaks might be unrealistic, but it’s a good message, nonetheless. Of course Ben Grimm, aka The Thing, gets the FREAK! treatment to begin with but really, you can’t ignore the fact that he’s a giant shambling mound of rock now, can you?
Extras on the DVD are not bad, really. Contrary to some other critics, I rather enjoyed the video diary hosted by Alba and featuring the entire cast. Might the fact that Alba is on camera a lot have influenced my decision? Maybe. Sue me. (get it?). The “inside look at X3″ is hardly anything at all, but the commentary is pretty funny and since it’s only the cast you don’t have to sit through 106 minutes of a director discussing how he set up shots. Great for Scorsese but Tim Story? I don’t think so. I will admit that while the box claims that Julian McMahon is included on the commentary track, I didn’t hear him. Then again I didn’t actually listen to all of it! Sue me! (Get it?) Ouch.
And now, with all due respect and homage to the master Stan Lee (guess which picture above is Stan the man) I bid thee, Excelsior!
All photos © 20th Century Fox
Previous Holiday Gift Guide Entries:
All I Want For Christmas Is The Buffy Set – The Rabbi’s Holiday Gift List Continues
The Rabbi’s Holiday Gift List: Office Space & Murder One
The Rabbi’s Holiday Gift List – Edward Scissorhands: 15th Anniversary Edition
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