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Fantastic Four (2005)
Tonight's Feature Presentation


Starring: Ioan Gruffud, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Julian McMahon, Michael Chiklis

Written By: Mark Frost, Michael France Directed By: Tim Story

The Shot

Fantastic Four is one of the worst comic book hero movies I’ve ever seen.  I can think of no good reason to bother with it that doesn’t involve lampooning.

The Highball

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


It’s not even real cheese.  It has no flavor, and is just a congealed mess.

Pairs Well With...


A fantastic four pack of this swill just might be enough to kill the pain of watching the movie… but I doubt it.

“It’s clobberin’ time!”

The first three words I said after watching Fantastic Four were harsh enough that I won’t repeat them here.

The next four were “I hate this movie.”

Those are words that I really don’t say often.  Sure, there are plenty of movies that I strongly dislike and never want to see again, but I still try to avoid the “h” word.  Fantastic Four, though… yeah.  I hate it.  Were it not for the existence of Spider-Man 3, I’d have to call it the single worst comic book flick ever to come out of Marvel’s licensing bin.  (As it stands, the two are damned close.) 

So, why do I hate it?

Fantastic Four is the kind of abomination only big budget Hollywood could come up with.  Sure, it’s got a bunch of highly polished and undeniably pretty special effects, but it’s more soulless than a Pat Boone cover band playing for a hoity-toity garden club.  The characters aren’t heroes; they’re losers.  (Indeed, they don’t really do anything heroic during the course of the movie that doesn’t exclusively involve cleaning up their own messes.  And though it’s true that other hero movies deal with similar issues, the heroes tend to establish their cred first.)  And the story… is there even a story here?

Allegedly, yes.  The first fifteen minutes of the picture are an improbable whirlwind meet-n-greet tour of the primary characters and an all-too-quick who-needs-a-story-when-you-have-effects take on the outer space accident that gives the Fantastic Four – along with, in this telling, their nemesis, Victor Von Doom – their powers.  Which none of them will discover for a while.  But anyway.  Enjoy that, because it’s all the real story you’re going to get.

From that point forward, not to put too fine a point on things, the movie can be summed up with the phrase “bitch, bitch, bitch.”  Because really, that’s practically all anyone does for the rest of the picture.

The writers take the concept of “ensemble conflict” and run to Pluto with it.  Everyone is always sniping at someone else from the very beginning, and at some point in Fantastic Four, everyone is sniping or has sniped at everyone else.  It’s drama theory taken too far, and the results are exceptionally annoying.

The annoyance is made worse by the fact that none of these characters are particularly fun or likeable, and it’s almost impossible to believe that any of them as scientists or people who ever worked for NASA in any capacity whatsoever.  (Even the script can’t help but throw barbs at the “underwear model” and “the world’s dumbest smart guy.”)  Bad rap though they sometimes get, one of the fun aspects of superhero origins stories is supposed to be the discovery and exploration of powers; here, with one exception, all of the heroes hate their powers and want nothing to do with them even before they know what they are, and that exception – Johnny Storm/”The Human Torch” (Chris Evans, Snowpiercer) – is only interested in using his powers to get laid.  (Sadly, and utterly illogically, the script obliges him.)  The horribly misnamed “Mr. Fantastic” couldn’t care less about being super stretchy, and the gent playing him, Ioan Gruffud (San Andreas), does so with all the charisma of a cow chip.  It’s plain to see even without foreknowledge that Michael Chiklis (Soldier) is a true fan and wants to do right with Ben Grimm/”The Thing,” but all the script lets him do is bitch and be disgusted with himself.  Meanwhile, Jessica Alba (Sin City: A Dame To Kill For) wins 2005’s Denise Richards award for “least convincing scientist” in the role of Sue Storm, who hates her powers and has no real desire to explore their awesome potential because dammit, she’s got boy trouble.

The “excitement” generated by all of the above, by the way, lasts until literally the final eight or nine minutes of the film.  Yes, even through most of the Third Act, they’re still whining at themselves and hating on each other and refusing to work together.  Oh, yay.

For fans of Marvel comics, the one remaining hope in this debacle should be Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon, Premonition) – aka Dr. Doom – one of the signature villains in comic book history.  Bad news, folks: even Stan Lee himself hated what this script does to Dr. Doom, and the should-be-fantastic villain is nothing more than a fantastic waste who suffers from the same lack of adulthood as our alleged “heroes.”

I’d like to tell you that there’s something worthwhile about this flick, but other than the fact that jobs were created to make it… yeah, I’ve got nothing.

Bottom line, Fantastic Four is a fantastic flop that is hemorrhoidally irritating to watch.  Unless you’re a comic completist, there’s really no reason to bother, though if you must subject yourself to this crud, at least have the good sense to do it MST3K style with some like minded friends and plenty of booze on hand.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, July 4, 2015

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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