Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn
milwaukeesfs

Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four is this year's movie adaptation of a classic Marvel comic book. As these go, I think it bits fair to rank perhaps along with Daredevil. Well done, but not destined for wild success like Spider-Man or X-Men, but not a failure like The Hulk, either.

I was particularly pleased by the updating of the origin story, which worked well. Reed Richards is a down-on-his luck inventor, scrounging for funding for his latest project from former classmate and rival, Victor Von Doom. Susan Storm is a scientist and administrator in her own right, and her brother Johnny is a qualified shuttle pilot, which gives them both good reasons for going along on Reed's space mission. This is a marked improvement on the early 1960's "spaceship-under-the-apple-tree" original, wherein Reed built his own insufficiently shielded spaceship and took his girlfriend and her kid brother along apparently for no other reason than that he built the ship with four seats.

The fact that Von Doom shares the cosmic irradiation is a marked departure from canon, although it does give him a more plausible origin and motivation (and cause of madness) than the stereotypical master villain riff he started out with in the comics.

So far, this film has not overlapped with any of the other Marvel films, so we get to see yet another iteration of inventing the super-hero job from the ground up, which has interesting aspects, although Reed seems to have come into control of his powers a lot faster and more effectively than the others do.

Overall, very good work by Ioan Gruffud as Reed, Jessica Alba as Sue, Chris Evans as adrenaline junkie and general jerk Johnny, Julian McMahon as Doom, and especially Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm. The producers made an excellent choice in deciding to do "the Thing" as a prosthetic suit rather than computer generation, and Chiklis manages to emote sufficiently under all that latex foam to make us feel for his plight. Also, a very bold and interesting choice to make Alicia Masters a black woman, given the world of comics where interracial dating is more likely to mean that one of them's an alien.

Recommended, although I don't know if this franchise has any life in it. The Four's main advantage was the group relationship, which gets mostly ironed out here--Reed and Susan are together , and Ben seems reconciled to his state. Unlike Spider-Man, after Dr. Doom, the FF never had a really great Rogue's Gallery--who would be next, the Mole Man? Nor did they ever have a long, strong story arc like the X-Men have had with the Sentinels, Phoenix/Dark Phoenix, et al. The FF usually seem to be the ones that crossover into other people's books and furnish that extra bit of strength, skill, or science that does the trick.
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