The odd thing about the comic book movie is that the minute they are announced speculation begins to rise on how closely they will mirror the comic, and with Fantastic Four that was simply the beginning as everyone from the director to the casting decisions were questioned, and this is before a single frame was shot. Does it all mean anything?
Well, let me simplify my stance on the film for you first. There are “four” things I have to say:
Fantastic Four introduces us to five main characters, Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), Susan Storm (Alba), Johnny Storm (Evans), Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) and Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon). The story begins as Richards has a dream of figuring out the human genetic code in an effort to help the human race and for some reason this approaching cosmic storm in outer space holds the secret (Yeah, told you about the script problems.).
The only way for him to get into outer space is for him and his buddy, Ben Grimm, to head on over to Mr. Von Doom and ask the billionaire for some cashola and use of his well placed space station, to which he agrees and our journey begins. Joining us on our ride to space will be Von Doom’s director of genetic research and Reed’s ex, Sue Storm (Yup, Alba plays a geneticist, you got a problem with that?), Grimm of course, Von Doom, Richards and Sue’s younger brother the cocky Maverick character Johnny Storm who will be piloting our voyage.
Once in space preparations begin, but uh oh, the storm is coming earlier than we thought… BANG! It hits and the DNA of our five companions is instantly altered. Reed is rubbery (Mr. Fantastic), Sue can go invisible (The Invisible Girl), Grimm is a big ol’ rock man (The Thing), Johnny can start on fire (The Human Torch) and Von Doom becomes a bit of a metal head.
Von Doom loses a ton of money on the botched experiment and his company is tanking, suffice to say he is a bit peeved. As for our “four” they are coping with their abilities in a variety of ways and this is where our story really begins as Johnny embraces his new powers and the other three only look for a way out, but sooner than later they all are forced to come together.
Sorry for the long synopsis, but you are going to want to know what you are in for. Inside of that tangled mess there is a little bit of story, a heavy dose of humor and a good bit of action, but don’t look too far into this film, it isn’t that deep, even though it tries to be.
Director Tim Story (Barbershop) did a good job capturing the human side of the characters and their struggle to deal with what they had become, you only wish he had done a little less of it and gotten on with the story. On the other hand, he has made a descent transition from comedic directing to action, but the fact that the comedy of the film is so good leads me to believe that comedy may be where he should focus the majority of his attention.
On the acting side, you are primarily drawn to the “talent” of Jessica Alba, whose performance is… let’s just say bad. To try and say she is a geneticist is as bad as Penelope Cruz in Sahara acting as a medical investigator and neurologist and Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough, it just doesn’t work. Chris Evans, however, nailed his role as he provides the comic relief throughout. As Johnny Storm Evans’ character embraces his new powers and in his performance he manages to balance the line between annoying and humorous all while offering up the coolest effects of the show.
Once all is said and done you can’t sit back and look for Fantastic Four to be something it isn’t, this is a popcorn flick plain and simple. It is fun and entertaining enough to call it a worthwhile venture to the box-office but it won’t have you yelling from the rooftops. If you are a comic book fan and worried about whether or not it will be just like the comic, just stay home, remember the “books” are always better and enjoy this for what it is. After all, this isn’t Shakespeare we are talking about.