Fantastic Four
Watch where you put that hand, Mr. Fantastic … I’ll look too.

Theatrical Release Date: 07/08/2005
Director: Tim Story
Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, Chris Evans, Julian McMahon

To kick off my newly titled column, I begin with one of the worst movies of the year: “Fantastic Four”. Did I give too much of my review away already? In a nutshell, and to use a pun, “Fantastic Four” is not worth your hard-earned ten.

Where to begin … Well, let’s look at the cast. Ioan Gruffudd plays Reed and does a competent job. (Though how he’s on the short list for the next James Bond, you got me). Michael Chiklis tackles the role of Ben Grimm admirably and Chris Evans’ portrayal of the Human Torch is actually ‘fantastic’! A film solely about him probably would have lived up to the title.

Wait, you’ve left two people out you say? Well, Jessica Alba (Susan Storm) isn’t as bad as I had feared/hoped. And thankfully, the costume department removed the top 2 buttons of all of her outfits. But that doesn’t mean that the 2 or 3 times she’s asked to emote, I’m not forced to guffaw. And without an ‘R’ rating, we clearly are not seeing what we wanted from the Invisible Girl.

Where, oh where, do I begin with Julian McMahon’s portrayal of Dr. Victor Von Doom. I could chalk his inability to pull off a convincing villain on the change in his background story, but somehow I think it’s better they gave him powers via the cosmic storm, rather than the actual disfigurement via college lab accident, because that probably cut 15-20 minutes off of the running time (and boy, were there some times I wanted to run).

However, there are 2 main factors to Dr. Doom being more like Dr. Not So Scary. One, who is afraid of Julian McMahon? I mean, seriously, he played the ultimate evil source turned consummate husband of Alyssa Milano on Charmed. And two, the director of this fine feature film was Tim Story, who most recently undigested “Taxi” on screens around the world.

It really is no surprise he wasn’t able to pull all the elements together in this film. And with one of, if not the most, important elements of a comic book movie being a believable villain, “Fantastic Four” was doomed from the start, literally.

All in all, this film had a lot of things it could have built upon, but didn’t because it tried to use every cliche in the book: While snowboarding, the Human Torch catches on fire and creates a hot spring for him and his ski bunny ; Susan Storm goes invisible when she feels like no one sees her; Mr. Fantastic only makes the plot-driving mistakes ; and a blind woman sees through the Thing’s rocky exterior to a heart of gold (it’s in the comic, but we didn’t need it in this first film, it only added to an already crowded landscape of oversentimentality).

The special effects were fairly good, minus the space station scenes, where it would have been more believable to use Lego sets than the crappy green scene shots of the Earth they did give us. The use of extreme sports felt like watching a Mountain Dew commercial that wouldn’t end. And when the space shuttle was docking with the station orbiting Earth, I had the same thoughts you might have right at the top of the ascent of a roller coaster – ‘Why did I do this? Please God, let this just be over.”

An hour and 45 minutes later, I got my wish. But not of course, before they throw one of the dumbest, unneeded cliffhanger endings at the audience. Every single “Friday the 13th” film did it better, and at least in those films, I was sure in real life I would run away from that masked menace with a machete.

In order to enjoy this film, make sure to bring along a keg of Foster’s. I give it a 2 out of 5.