Sunday, July 10, 2005

So, Fantastic Four. Saw it, enjoyed it. It's apparently getting some lousy reviews, but since I don't read reviews, I don't know what the complaints are. (Nor do I care, really; what, am I supposed to read them and then go, "Oh, I guess I shouldn't have enjoyed this or that after all?" Or do I give a damn about debating them? No, don't think so.) Here, then, are my thoughts--my review, as it were--if anyone cares.

I really liked the main characters. They felt true to the spirit of the original comic book characters while feeling like a fresh interpretation. Chris Evans was great as the Human Torch, Ioan Griffud brought the right amounts of charm and brainy awkwardness to Reed Richards, and Michael Chiklis came across quite well as the Thing, making him seem more than just a guy in a suit. (And looking much less like a big, orange turd than he had in the photos I'd seen.) And Jessica Alba as Sue Storm... Well, when isn't Jessica Alba great?

The dynamics between the characters also felt true to the original. And the movie had enough sense to realize that the Fantastic Four is a family, instead of a super-group. Also, the film got to the origin quickly enough that it didn't feel like we were waiting forever to get to the point.

However, what the movie gets wrong, and it's a pretty big failure, is there isn't very much of the fantastic going on. The movie feels small and empty and cheap. In the beginning, Victor von Doom apparently has this big, sophisticated space station orbiting the Earth, but apparently, there isn't anybody actually on board running it, because we don't see anyone else (that I can recall), and certainly nobody else gets zapped by the cosmic rays. Much of the movie involves the cast sitting in rooms talking to each other. They don't get out, they don't have adventures, and they don't really use their powers for most of the film. Until the big battle with Doctor Doom (who is never called that), which brings me to another problem. But overall, it feels more like a TV movie than a big-screen adventure.

Doctor Doom is, arguably, the number one Fantastic Four villain. But, in the context of this movie, it just didn't quite work for me. For one thing, when the Fantastic Four comic is good--which isn't as often as you might think, for the self-proclaimed "World's Greatest Comic Magazine"--it's not about these superpowered folks fighting crime or beating villains. It's about them having adventures, which do bring them into conflict with others, but not exactly the same as in a Spider-Man or Daredevil story. So, when the only thing we see the FF doing in this movie is fighting Doctor Doom, it just doesn't feel quite right. Particularly since, in this story, he's played as a failed businessman trying to revive his company's fortunes, who then finds himself with superpowers. Not only is this pretty close to the Spider-Man movies' Norman Osborne, but when you pit one guy against the Fantastic Four, he's just going to look outnumbered. Which is indeed how the fight at the end of this movie feels. There isn't a real sense of threat or jeopardy. Maybe they should have fought some sort of giant mole monster or something.

Having said that, despite its flaws, Jessica Alba isn't in the movie any less, so I'm ultimately okay with the whole thing. But it's no Batman Begins.

And seeing it in a crowded theater with a bunch of screaming monkey-children, and sitting right in front of Darth Vader (okay, a guy stuck breathing out of an oxygen tank, but a loud oxygen tank), I have decided I never want to see a movie in a theater with other people ever again. Seriously, it was like sitting in the middle of the fucking zoo. So my enthusiasm for seeing War of the Worlds or The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D in the theater has dropped off almost completely. I can watch them on DVD, even smaller, if it means I don't have to listen to monkey-children screeching.

No comments: