I am not a movie maker, but I know that the process of making one is not a simple task. Since, the audience is not the one making the film, it seems that people often forget how truly a challenging process it is. The audience is demanding. “I want a masterpiece movie” and they say it regardless of what the movie makers have to work with.
When an average film is made, it is ripped down because instead of being great it was just plain old good. Ironically, good is no longer good enough. This frame of thinking, is what the comic book movie Fantastic Four has to deal with. Fantastic Four is by far not a great movie, but it is good. Yet, what ever good qualities it holds, to most, it still was not good enough. So I’m wondering… since when is a “good thing” not a good thing?
The story begins when an experimental space travel, goes terribly wrong. In this trip, four people are transformed by a mysterious cluster of cosmic rays. The leader and composer of the trip, Reed Richards, gains the ability to stretch all parts of his body, and becomes, Mr. Fantastic. His former girlfriend, Sue Storm, receives the ability to turn invisible and to make force fields (also the ability to harbor the energy in the force fields and project it like a weapon),becoming the Invisible Woman. Her younger brother Johnny Storm gets the ability to turn his entire body into flames, including being able to throw fire from his hands, and thus transforming into the Human Torch. The Pilot of the space craft, Ben Grimm is turned into a ultra-strong rock creature which (not by choice) is ultimately called The Thing. Together, they make use of these newly acquired, unique powers, to explore the subtle intricacies of our world, and to attempt to stop the plans of the evil Doctor Doom.
Comic Coming to Life
When you look at movies such as The Hulk and Daredevil, you will be more than sure that making a big time, comic book, action movie, is not the easiest thing to accomplish. Both those movies took massive amount of time and millions of dollars to be produced. The story that they had to work with, was not the easiest to work with. The Hulk is a larger than life figure who is suppose to have feelings that we could all relate to. Not even Ang Lee, could make a deep person out of that green giant. The same occurs in Daredevil, with Ben Afflect at the wheel playing Daredevil, it held a bland, uninspired, non- dramatic, performance which is not what the script called for. We were suppose to be touched by the conflicts in Daredevils life. Rather, the film makers had us complaining about how horrific the style was. When making movies out of graphic novels, you find that not only are you to replicate the visual but also convey the emotions and a special essence that the books held.
In Fantastic Four I think people missed how it really had the essence of the comic books. First and foremost the movie had to be a bit dorky, awkward, and mostly funny. The movie effectively put all those factors in display. Also, the special effects needed would not be easy. Mr. Fantastic has the ability to stretch his body in what ever way he wishes. (On screen it seems almost gross the way it looked.. but it showed it.. just like in the comic book) With Sue Storm they had to make her invisible. The Human Torch is a man who can set himself on fire. (More big time CGI for ya.. in order for it to seem realistic) Then you are left with the daunting task to make The Thing a big man made of stone. They had to make a suit that looked like it was made of stone, yet not look so cheesy. As well as they could do, they did. The special effects were well made. If we are fair about it, the special effects alone must have been a difficult task to accomplish. Yeah.. I know.. in our day in age, CGI is not as hard a task and can be done well. Of course, but tell that to the people working massive amount of hours to get it just right. I think the hard work that CGI personnel accomplish, goes under appreciated.
Not Action, Yes Comedy
I guess you can call this an action/comedy but.. I think it is a comedy, that has action in it. If you are looking to see a movie with a whole lot of drama and a whole lot of action then this is not the film for you. “Fantastic Four” only has two spots in it that have actual action. The rest is just a comedic experience. This movie is a fun filled film that is uplifting and satisfies you. That is, if you don’t go into it, with huge expectations. That’s the downfall with most movies these days.. if its not a great film or completely different than other films.. then its not considered much of a success. Fantastic Four is a good movie that will give you good laughs and a bit of action.
Fantastic Four is an origin story. This is where four ordinary human beings are transformed into super beings. The movies basically shows the difficult time that the four people have in dealing with this new form of life. All while having to deal with a bad guy. That is probably what keeps this from being a better movie, it focuses all in the origin and leaves the fighting in the back burner. So what we expected.. we don’t quite get. However, if we have a little patience.. if their is a sequel, then all the origin stuff will be taken care of and we can see the fantastic four in full swing. Hopefully, we will be able to see more good guys confronting bad guys and kicking the bad guys rears. Not like in this movie where we only gets teased with it.
When I heard that Sue Storm was going to be played by Jessica Alba (“Sin City” and “Idle Hands”), I was disappointed. I love Alba but she is not what the comic book Sue looks like. She is not tall, slim, very white and very blond. Yet, I was content with her after watching the movie because while she is not the aforementioned kind, she did fit the style that the movie went for. The movie was not a photo copy of the comic books, so it was o.k. that she also was not.
Loan Gruffudd (Black Hawk Down and King Arthur) played Reed Richards our beloved but dorky scientist. While I did not think he was anything special.. at least he pulled off the insecure and dorky Reed as he was suppose to be.
The only other movie that I had seen Chris Evans in was “Not Another Teen Movie”, so it was very little to go on. In the movie he was the funniest guy of the bunch. With a charming smile and a bunch of one liners, he made the movie a fun uplifting time.
The ever lovable Ben Grimm was well portrayed by Michael Chiklis (“Daddio” and “The Shield”) . I think he did a fantastic job. It is hard for me to imagine anyone pulling The Thing off, but he did enough of a good job with it. He gave The Thing heart and the script was really good at doing it also. In the comix you always have this soft spot for The Thing because he is so different and not accepted by everyone, the script (as well as Chiklis) did a good job in getting the feelings across.
The character that I was most disappointed by was Doctor Doom. Played by Julian McMahon now famous for his hit T.V. series “Nip/Tuck”, gave us more a performance like that of his appearances in Charmed.. an evil guy. The small bits that we saw of him in “Fantastic Four”, were perfect. He is able to show evil just in a mere stare. Sadly, we did not get to see much focus on him. The script would have benefited much more from using his good abilities at being evil.
In the end..
This movie was not the best of its kind but it was well put together. While many did not like it, if you enter into it with mild expectations, you wont be disappointed. This is a movie that is not intent on being dramatic and deep in meaning but just a fun ride. Full of fun and humor it gives a nice lighthearted story that entertains well. Filled with tongue-in-cheek humor, it embraces what made the comic book likeable in the first place. Allowing the movie to be super and yet still a little silly.