DIRECTOR: Tim Story
May Contain Spoilers!
2005 finally saw the release of the Fantastic Four, “Marvels’ first family” as they has been dubbed. But after the Marvel movies of the first half of the decade, which began with X-Men (2000), and would later see X2 (2003), Spider-man (2002), Spider-man 2 (2004), Hulk (2003) and Daredevil (2003), was this really the film to take the franchise to the next level?
Well, no, it wasn’t. This was also the year that DC Comics fought back and brought us Batman Begins and the rest is history. But in the end it all boils down to tone. The Fantastic 4 was a long time in coming, with the infamous Roger Corman produced and unreleased version being tried as far back as 1994, so when it finally turned up, exceptions where obviously high.
This story of the Fantastic 4’s genesis into superheroes is simply played out here and takes no risks into its execution. No radical re-imagaining, just a straight forward story showing them all coming to terms with their powers and trying to cure themselves in process.
But we don’t want them to be cured so this the first misjugment in the screenplay, though held back somewhat by Johnny Storm, The Human Tourch’s (Chris Evans) resistance and embracing of their new conditions. The film is reasonably well conceived it’s just that it was made at the wrong time. Maybe more fitting a couple of years earlier but by 2005 comic book movies had taken a step darker and even more plausible with the ultimate combination being Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy and this film was just too simple and bright.
But having said that, in relation to the later Marvel films, The Avenger’s Phase One as it were, this has more of a natural home and the screenplay has it pro’s, such as the creative conclusion in which all four characters get a part to play in defeating the villain, Victor von Doom.
It’s just shallow and vacuous, with some nice scenes, great imagery but not enough to heart or story to back it up. In the end, it’s just too predictable. But Michael Chiklis, an actor who I first encountered in TV show, The Shield (2002), is the highlight here, as he is almost everything that he’s in, adding some serious acting chops to the ensemble.
A decent enough family or kids film, but not the grand addition to the annals of comic book adaptations which we would have hoped for.