Fantastic Four Review
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Fantastic Four formed the basis of the Marvel Universe back in the early sixties. The premise by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby was simple: how would normal people react if they had superpowers and the whole world knew? Add to the mix that they were a family before they got their powers, and Fantastic Four was something that the comic-buying world had never seen before.

The movieís script takes liberties (a lot of them, in fact) with the origin of the FF, but it holds to the essentials. Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) and Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) are best friends from college. Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) is the older sister of Johnny Storm (Chris Evans). Reed and Sue had been romantically connected in the past, but thatís over, and both have moved on (wink, wink).

Reed is somewhat smarter than Einstein, but he has difficulty following through on some thingsólike paying bills. Desperate to find funding for his latest project, Reed turns to an associate/college rival, Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon), for cash. Did I mention that Sue now works in a high-level job for Doom? And that Doom wants to marry her? No? I should have.

Things go wrong, and the characters are exposed to Cosmic Rays. At first, they seem to be fine, but they soon begin to manifest strange symptoms. Reed/Mr. Fantasticís body stretches like rubber, Sue/Invisible Woman can turn invisible and create force fields, Ben/The Thing becomes turns into rock, and Johnny/The Human Torch can turn into flames and fly. The plot begins to find some pace as Reed attempts to cure his friends. Johnny is thrilledóbut everyone else wants to go back to normal. Unknown to the heroes, Doom is also infected and is developing powers of his own.

The foursome go public with their powers by accident, and, of course, the City of New York instantly loves them.

Doom decides to use his new powers by taking revenge on people, leading him into a battle with our heroes, and the two sides tear up the streets of New York. Naturally the ending leaves open the possibility of a rematch, which is inevitable since the entire cast is already locked into FF2 and FF3.

Fantastic Four isnít going to contend for any Oscars, and no one is ever going to put it on their list of all-time classic movies, but itís still fun to watch. The characters come off as simple and naÔve when compared to the movie superheroes weíve seen lately. Spider-Man, Batman, and the X-Men all have deep-seeded issues that make them come across as dark and morose. Thereís none of that hereómaking it easy to relax and enjoy.

Its biggest problem is trying to push almost forty years of story into a couple of hours. The script sets the characters up, but it doesnít give us a real reason to care. The Four have more stories among them than any other hero, save perhaps Batman. Thereís simply no way to do them real justice in a single movie.

The effects are okay but not stunning. Mr. Fantastic always looks a bit off when he stretches, and the fight scenes are only marginal. The Thing looks small, but Johnnyís flame effects are really cool. In fact, the best moments are when the Thing and the Torch are on screen together.

This is a slow start for a new movie franchiseóbut it should pay off in the sequel, when they can skip over the back-story. Overall, this is a light-hearted movie thatís fun to watch and easy to take the kids to see. Itís well worth the price of admission.

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