Friday, July 08, 2005

Fairly Fantastic

We saw the Fantastic Four movie last night at a preview screening. Overall, I enjoyed it and found it one of the better Marvel adaptations -- somewhere between the X-Men movies and Daredevil. Here are the pluses and minuses (with an appropriate Spoiler Warning):


1. Chikliss's knock-out, spot-on portrayal of both Ben Grimm and his eventual alter ego, The Thing. Hands down the best "thing" in the movie. It's hard to imagine who could have done this role better.

2. Jessica Alba looks stunning in the FF uniform -- and, in fact, in every stage of dress and undress in the movie.

3. The special effects duplicated the characters' comic-book powers extremely well -- particularly for The Human Torch.

4. Chris Evans made an appropriately cock-sure Human Torch.

5. The movie had a big-scale feeling to it that suited the FF.

6. The action sequences were great, and the writing struck a nice balance between humor and pathos.

The negatives:

1. Plot holes you could fly a spaceship through. For instance, the movie makes a big deal out of how Reed Richards is bankrupt and has a stack of past due bills. So how does he afford a team of engineers to build his cosmic ray gadget?

2. The film "samples" other movies like a bad rap song. Rather than give us a Jack-Kirby-esque lab for Richards, it rips off Seth Brundle's lab (complete with pod) from Cronenberg's The Fly. It turns Victor Von Doom into Norman Osborne from the first Spider-Man movie, with a nasty board of investment bankers substituting for a nasty board of directors. It even rips off a scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark ripping off a scene from Citizen Kane.

3. Apparently in the interest of giving Reed Richards a character "arc," the film ends up making him too wimpy for most of the movie before he grows a backbone. It depicts him as hesitating to act because he is cowed by all the things that could go wrong with every move. But in the comic, he was depicted as often acting too soon -- beginning with the initial flight that gave the group its powers.

4. Jessica Alba is less than convincing whenever she has to act like a scientist.

Overall, it's a fun summer movie that's well worth a couple of hours of uncomfortable theatre seats.

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