Fantastic Four Movie discussion (SPOILERS)

ourchair

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Everybody knows I'm the boards biggest bed-wetting doodyhead of a Fantastic Four fan. Well, I made it a point to see Fantastic Four ASAP, which was tonight in Manila. I've been wetting myself for like eternity for this movie to get out, as the awesome foursome have always been my favorite Marvel property, a childhood fixation second only to Spider-Man and the only team book I really obsessed about.

So how was the movie you ask? It's good, but not great.

[IMGL]http://jawbreaker.ph/tusok/images/05-ffm-ourfuture.jpg[/imgl]The movie starts off quickly: It doesn't indulge us with one of those glorious CGI opening titles like Daredevil or Spider-Man, which is just as well as it economizes time nicely. As everyone probably knows by now, the desperate Reed approaches Victor Von Doom requesting financial and logistical support for an outer space study of a cosmic storm.

Instead of giving us flashback after flashback, the relationships are developed through allusion. Reckless Johnny was booted out of NASA, and the practical Ben resents taking orders from the impetuous hotshot. Reed's obsessive and indecisive nature was the cause of his failed past with Sue. Doom is glad to have Reed under his thumb, and now he plans to marry Sue as the crown jewel in his accomplishments over Reed's.

The origin proceeds swiftly and it isn't more than a few minutes after the five arrive at the station that the cosmic storm hits and they're back on Earth under quarantine by the medical team and the rest of the story is about everyone dealing with their powers. They milk it for a few good laughs too. If you're the smartass who always asks, "Why don't his clothes burn off? Wouldn't she have to be naked to be invisible? What about the sexual applications of stretching?" then this is the movie for you.

[IMGL]http://jawbreaker.ph/tusok/images/05-ffm-tangling.jpg[/imgl]As a fanboy, I'm disappointed there wasn't the kind of showy pizzazz we get from say, Spider-Man. But what Tim Story brings to the film is exactly what Fox and Marvel have promised: the portrayal of a largely dysfunctional superfamily --- Reed is in monkish pursuit of solutions, Ben is completely morose and Johnny makes a nuisance of himself playing pranks on Ben and soaking up publicity while Sue has to keep the peace. It's this bickering dynamic that captures exactly what the Fantastic Four are about.

Ioan Gruffudd wears his character well. Reed is written as a man who spends less time doing and more time thinking, and its the kind of personality trait that holds him back. He's not exactly the stuffy professor that Stan and Jack introduced, and nor is he the capable leader he eventually becomes. Which is fine, as it gives his character an avenue for development.

Jessica Alba is the weak link here. She can't deliver lines like, "It's fundamentally altered our DNA." to save her life. She's not a hindrance to the film though, as her romance with Reed is used largely to develop his eventual growth into the team's commander. As it stands, she's kind of like a Scientist Barbie with a Malibu Beach tan.

[IMGL]http://jawbreaker.ph/tusok/images/05-ffm-soakitup.jpg[/imgl]Chris Evans steals every scene he's in as Johnny, who revels in his powers just as much as he does in the comics. Evans takes the role and runs with it by playing it as loudly as he can. To him, EVERYTHING --- snowboarding, stunt biking, and media hype --- is an extreme sport. Reed on the other hand, doesn't seem to care much. All he wants to do is undo the effects of the storm.

Michael Chiklis, who has been represented as the FF fan of the cast, plays Ben Grimm with a lot of grumpy charm even before he transforms into the craggy monster. My only problem is his pathos doesn't seem to run as deep as it should. The establishing scenes for it are there, sure, but I think they were deeply undercut by a couple of fundamental problems in the film's plot, and this is where I get into SPOILERS:

Once the Four become celebrities, Sue and Reed wisely decide on a self-imposed exile as they go into R&D mode in pursuit of a way to reverse the effects of the cosmic storm. Soon they develop a transformation chamber that can replicate the cosmic rays and reverse their polarity --- basically it's a homemade cosmic storm generator. Reed feels the pressure to find a solution for Ben ASAP, but understands that there is a need for caution.

However, when Reed tests it on himself the machine fails: He needs more power to undo their genetic change. Enter Victor Von Doom: He has developed the ability to absorb and harness electricity. He's basically a living transformer. He plays the tempting snake to Ben, stating that he knows exactly how to get the machine to do exactly what it should.

[IMGL]http://jawbreaker.ph/tusok/images/05-ffm-transform.jpg[/imgl]The Thing steps into the chamber, and after Doom channels insane amounts of energy into the chamber, Ben Grimm re-emerges. And with Reed's "bodyguard" out of the way, Doom catches Reed by surprise and kidnaps him. Once Sue and Johnny discover what has happened they run off to figure out what to do, and tell the now unfantastic Ben that he'll have to sit this one out.

Here is the chance to ham it up for all its worth, for Ben to be the "ultimate simple hero" who gives up being normal in order to protect his friends but instead its brushed aside. Instead of contemplating the gravity of that decision, we cut away to how Johnny and Sue must deal with the current crisis, and suddenly The Thing shows up at a crucial moment to give Doom a good sock in the jaw.

It should be a noble moment, but the fact that the transformation from Ben to Thing to Ben to Thing is done so easily makes the drama somewhat lesser. The fact that the transformation chamber is such a Deus Ex Machina makes things even worse. Now that Reed has technically perfected the technology, all he needs is a reliable supply of power and the transformation between Thing and Ben would be so convenient it would be rendered meaningless.

[IMGL]http://jawbreaker.ph/tusok/images/05-ffm-shocking.jpg[/imgl]Moving on, Doom isn't exactly as sophisticated a villain as he could be, but then again Magneto eclipsed him in that regard decades ago. McMahon plays Doom as a smooth character, with the kind of cool menace that seems to have been patented by John Travolta. But he isn't really given much to do other than snarl at people and be the kind of jerks that seems to be the domain of Ultimate comics.

I won't spoil how they took care of him in the end, but I will SPOIL that Doom is given a cliffhanger that suggests that we won't see the last of him. Which isn't exactly a surprise, as Doom has always been the original bad pennyL you just can't get rid of him.

All in all, Fantastic Four was fun, charming and an entertaining mix that should leave you rolling in the aisles with laughter, even if it lacks the kind of dramatic gravitas that X-Men and Spider-Man have. I give this a 7/10.

:rockon: :rockon: :rockon: :rockon: :rockon: :rockon: :rockon:
 
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TheManWithoutFear

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Great review Ourchair!
ourchair said:
Ioan Gruffudd wears his character well. Reed is written as a man who spends less time doing and more time thinking, and its the kind of personality trait that holds him back. He's not exactly the stuffy professor that Stan and Jack introduced, and nor is he the capable leader he eventually becomes. Which is fine, as it gives his character an avenue for development.
I figureed he'd play the role really well.

ourchair said:
Jessica Alba is the weak link here. She can't deliver lines like, "It's fundamentally altered our DNA." to save her life. She's not a hindrance to the film though, as her romance with Reed is used largely to develop his eventual growth into the team's commander. As it stands, she's kind of like a Scientist Barbie with a Malibu Beach tan.
Ya think? ... BAD CASTING!

ourchair said:
Chris Evans steals every scene he's in as Johnny, who revels in his powers just as much as he does in the comics. Evans takes the role and runs with it by playing it as loudly as he can. To him, EVERYTHING --- snowboarding, stunt biking, and media hype --- is an extreme sport. Reed on the other hand, doesn't seem to care much. All he wants to do is undo the effects of the storm.
Sounds like a dead on Human Torch.



ourchair said:
It should be a noble moment, but the fact that the transformation from Ben to Thing to Ben to Thing is done so easily makes the drama somewhat lesser. The fact that the transformation chamber is such a Deus Ex Machina makes things even worse. Now that Reed has technically perfected the technology, all he needs is a reliable supply of power and the transformation between Thing and Ben would be so convenient it would be rendered meaningless.
This doesn't look like good news at all

ourchair said:
Moving on, Doom isn't exactly as sophisticated a villain as he could be, but then again Magneto eclipsed him in that regard decades ago. McMahon plays Doom as a smooth character, with the kind of cool menace that seems to have been patented by John Travolta. But he isn't really given much to do other than snarl at people and be the kind of jerks that seems to be the domain of Ultimate comics.
McMahon is actually one of the most interesting things about the film to me. I was pretty pysched to hear he was cast but then let down when he revealed he knew very little about the part he was playing and just seemed to be in it for fun and because it's a comic book movie. But I thought he'd be a different kind of Doom not a bad different but certainly different.
 

ourchair

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TheManWithoutFear said:
Great review Ourchair!
Well, thanks! Although honestly, this is no review, as it lacks the kind of formal approach I use for reviews I've done elsewhere.

Honestly, I didn't realize the problem with Ben's character arc until compound and I were out of the theater, so it doesn't play too badly.

TheManWithoutFear said:
McMahon is actually one of the most interesting things about the film to me. I was pretty pysched to hear he was cast but then let down when he revealed he knew very little about the part he was playing and just seemed to be in it for fun and because it's a comic book movie. But I thought he'd be a different kind of Doom not a bad different but certainly different.
McMahon confessed to being really obsessed with the cartoons when he was a kid, but he also admitted that's more out of the fact that all children are rather indiscriminate about whatever they watch on Saturday mornings, as we probably all have been at one point.

Either way, McMahon has a lot of fun with the character, there's no doubt about that.
 

TheManWithoutFear

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Ebert

Movies - Ebert slams FF film (spoils)
Fantastic Flameout: 1 star


BY ROGER EBERT / July 7, 2005

So you get in a spaceship, and you venture into orbit to research a mysterious star storm hurtling toward Earth. There's a theory it may involve properties of use to man. The spaceship is equipped with a shield to protect its passengers from harmful effects, but the storm arrives ahead of schedule and saturates everybody on board with unexplained but powerful energy that creates radical molecular changes in their bodies.

They return safety to Earth, only to discover that Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), the leader of the group, has a body that can take any form or stretch to unimaginable lengths. Call him Mr. Fantastic. Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) develops superhuman powers in a vast and bulky body that seems made of stone. Call him the Thing. Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) can become invisible at will and generate force fields that can contain propane explosions, in case you have a propane explosion that needs containing but want the option of being invisible. Call her Invisible Woman. And her brother Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) has a body that can burn at supernova temperatures. Call him the Human Torch.

I almost forgot the villain, Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon), who becomes Dr. Doom and wants to use the properties of the star storm and the powers of the Fantastic Four for his own purposes. He eventually becomes metallic.

By this point in the review, are you growing a little restless? What am I gonna do, list names and actors and superpowers and nicknames forever? That's how the movie feels.

It's all setup and demonstration, and naming and discussing and demonstrating, and it never digests the complications of the Fantastic Four and gets on to telling a compelling story. Sure, there's a nice sequence where the Thing keeps a fire truck from falling off a bridge, but you see one fire truck saved from falling off a bridge, you've seen them all.

The Fantastic Four are, in short, underwhelming. The edges kind of blur between them and other superhero teams. That's understandable. How many people could pass a test right now on who the X-Men are and what their powers are? Or would want to? I wasn't watching "Fantastic Four" to study it, but to be entertained by it, but how could I be amazed by a movie that makes its own characters so indifferent about themselves?

The Human Torch, to repeat, can burn at supernova temperatures! He can become so hot, indeed, that he could threaten the very existence of the Earth itself! This is absolutely stupendously amazing, wouldn't you agree? If you could burn at supernova temperatures, would you be able to stop talking about it? I know people who won't shut up about winning 50 bucks in the lottery.

But after Johnny Storm finds out he has become the Human Torch, he takes it pretty much in stride, showing off a little by setting his thumb on fire. Later he saves the Earth, while Invisible Woman simultaneously contains his supernova so he doesn't destroy it. That means Invisible Woman could maybe create a force field to contain the sun, which would be a big deal, but she's too distracted to explore the possibilities; she gets uptight because she will have to be naked to be invisible, because otherwise people could see her empty clothes; it is no consolation to her that invisible nudity is more of a metaphysical concept than a condition.

Are these people complete idiots? The entire nature of their existence has radically changed, and they're about as excited as if they got a makeover on "Oprah." The exception is Ben Grimm, as the Thing, who gets depressed when he looks in the mirror. Unlike the others, who look normal, except when actually exhibiting superpowers, he looks like -- well, he looks like the Hulk, just as the Human Torch looks like the Flash, and the Invisible Woman has some of the same powers as Storm in "X-Men."

Is this the road company? Thing clomps around on his Size 18 boulders and feels like an outcast until he meets a blind woman named Alicia (Kerry Washington) who loves him, in part because she can't see him. But the Thing looks like Don Rickles crossed with Mt. Rushmore; he has a body that feels like a driveway and a face with crevices you could hide a toothbrush in. Alicia tenderly feels his face with her fingers, like blind people often do while falling in love in the movies, and I guess she likes what she feels. Maybe she's extrapolating.

The story involves Dr. Doom's plot to ... but perhaps we need not concern ourselves with the plot of the movie, since it is undermined at every moment by the unwieldy need to involve a screenful of characters, who, despite the most astonishing powers, have not been made exciting or even interesting. The X-Men are major league compared to them.

And the really good superhero movies, like "Superman," "SpiderMan 2" and "Batman Begins," leave "Fantastic Four" so far behind that the movie should almost be ashamed to show itself in the same theaters.
I don't usually agree with these critics but I get the feeling he's right. We'll see tomorrow.
 

ourchair

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TheManWithoutFear said:
I don't usually agree with these critics but I get the feeling he's right. We'll see tomorrow.
I know my sentiments about the film were just hanging on its teeth between negative and positive, but Ebert's pretty on the money there in some aspects. If I were to write a REAL review not a "report on my experience with the film" I'd say it's not a very good film.

As an aside, has anybody noticed how Ebert's kinda nuts when he hates a film? Check out his review of The Tuxedo or 100 Cigarettes. When Ebert hates a film, he doesn't even feel compelled to discuss its flaws or merits --- he just rambles about minutiae like smoking and entomology for the sheer sarcastic fun of it.
 

ourchair

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ultimatedjf said:
Despite all the ****ty reviews, I'm going to see it at the first showing tomorrow! :D
Dem AICN guys totally trashed this movie, and it didn't stop me from skipping classes to see it on opening day!
 

ProjectX2

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Sweet. Going to see this tomorrow.
 

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TheManWithoutFear said:
Walking 2 miles to the 12:15 show and spending $4.50
YOU PAY $4.50?!?!?!?!?!?!?! :shock:

I USED to pay that, like yeaaaaaaars ago. Now I have to pay $6.25.... :cry:
 

ourchair

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I paid a little less than $3 for a nice quality theater. :D Movie tickets are cheap in the Philippines.
 

jtg3885

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Saw the movie, the first showing at the local theater. Regretted that before I even made it through the previews... too many kids. Bahh. I'm not going to bother with the play-by-play, we already have that...

I think that the movie could have done without either Debbie OR Alicia. I liked either subplot in and of itself, but when you put them together... it bugged me. It's kinda like Rogue and her manhopping... well, my fiancé dumps me, but here's this blind chick who can't see how fugly I am, so what the hell? I would have liked them to either have held off Alicia till the next movie, or used the Debbie time for more Alicia/Ben development.

Johnny's antics wore on me quickly. Yes, we get that he's a daredevil. Whoo hoo. We get that he loves being in the public eye. Whoo hoo. It just got... boring. Really, really fast. Same with the womanizing.

Sue and Victor. There was never anything between me and Victor? Either Victor is creepy stalker guy, or Reed isn't the only scientist who is totally blind to romance. Given that it's the evil guy... I might be inclined to believe it's the former, but I couldn't help believing it was the latter for some reason.

Plot was standard fare for an origin film, effects were great... I still think the Thing would have benefited from being CGI like the Hulk... but whatever. I suppose with everyone else being CGI'd, they had to save money somewhere...

EDIT: And out of all the songs on the F4 album, the one that I could have done without being in the movie was the stupid Velvet Revolver song which just made me think of the retarded epileptic dancing of the lead singer... Would have rather heard Megan McCauley... either of her songs.
 
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ourchair

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jtg3885 said:
I think that the movie could have done without either Debbie OR Alicia. I liked either subplot in and of itself, but when you put them together... it bugged me. It's kinda like Rogue and her manhopping... well, my fiancé dumps me, but here's this blind chick who can't see how fugly I am, so what the hell? I would have liked them to either have held off Alicia till the next movie, or used the Debbie time for more Alicia/Ben development.
Totally agree with you on that one. I felt that Ben's relationship with Alicia and "Debbie" just seemed so hollow and superficial that it made his bouncing from the latter to the former just cheap.

jtg3885 said:
EDIT: And out of all the songs on the F4 album, the one that I could have done without being in the movie was the stupid Velvet Revolver song which just made me think of the retarded epileptic dancing of the lead singer... Would have rather heard Megan McCauley... either of her songs.
Which part in the movie was that song played?
 

TheManWithoutFear

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First off... I saw the movie for free :twisted:

Ok, The movie gets a B+ from me. Not the worst film in the world. Here's why.

Fantastic Four is the first movie to focus on a small group of people who already have relationships with each other. Unlike X-Men where there's an outside force bringing them together this establishes the relationships and leaves room for the character interaction right off the bat. And how bout that character interaction? I was most impressed by this. Who failed? No one (IMO) I'm not gonna rattle them all off but all of the actors pretty much meshed perfectly together. I laughed pretty much the whole time because of this and the dialogue. All-Star cast did an all star job.

But MWoF what about...
Jessica Alba! I'll admit it, I thought she was good. I loved the chemistry she had with Gruffudd. I thought they worked well together and she held her own. I still don't picture her as 616/Ultimate Sue Storm but she established herself real well as movie sue.

Oh, yeah, she's ****in' hott too. and I apologize for bashing her I think she might actually have a future...

Special effects were great. I won't list them all but they were all real solid effects. Thing sometimes kept reminding me of something that should have come out of a Ninja Turtle film but I didn't mind him I thought to myself, How else could they do it. CGI thing would've been worse so I was satisfied.

Some flaws... The big one was definitely the Thing coming and going. It pissed me off. Second, action scenes weren't gettin' me hard enough. The final battle with Doom was going good but ended so quickly. Last, Doom's powers.... I know the theme was "over the top" Doom but I thought the whole sucking electricity out the air and being nearly unstoppable was almost too over the top. They should've toned the electric powers down a bit.

Soundtrack was awesome too.

So yeah, good boarderline better movie and the highlights were definitely effects and interactions. I look forward to a sequel.
 

moonmaster

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I saw it today at about noon. I liked it. It definitely wasn't as good as Spider-Man 2 or Batman Begins but it was fun. Alba was alright and Gruffud and Evans did great jobs. My only problem with Chiklis' version of the Thing was the voice. I was already annoyed by this when I saw the trailers and I really didn't like it. The voice just makes him a little too inhuman. I thought McMahon was actually pretty good as Doom. He played a good arrogan, creepy jerk. And I agree that the final battle was way too short.

Btw, was anyone else annoyed by the blatant product placement? Ben hitting Johnny into a Burger King billboard? C'mon... :roll:
 

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