Plot: Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) is a genius. He has incredible ideas and a brilliant mind, but he lacks the funds to make his concepts a reality. He sees the chance of a lifetime when a massive solar flare is soon to appear, a chance to rake in funds and solidify his reputation. But when a grant is turned down, he is left with only one option, his old friend Victor (Julian McMahon). Victor has cash to burn and a reputation some would kill for, the kind of status Reed dreams of. The plan is approved, but Richards will be joined by his ex Sue (Jessica Alba) and her brother Johnny (Chris Evans), in addition to his own pilot, Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis). The mission puts the crew right in the center of the flare, but the craft is hit with much more radiation than expected. The crew survives, but when they return, strange changes have occurred…

Entertainment Value: As the Fantastic Four is one of the most iconic Marvel brands, this movie had a lot to live up to and of course, it would fall short in that pursuit, though it isn’t as bad as it could have been. The movie has a cheap, rushed feel in most scenes and has a mediocre villain presence, but the film also has that comic book texture, which Marvel has struggled to capture in other movies. As for the villain issue, Victor Von Doom is one of the most powerful, fearsome foes in the Marvel world, but here he comes off like a used car salesman. The lack of threat combines with the film’s goofy sense of humor to defuse any tension, as the love triangle adds more suspense than anything else that involves Doom. But I do think the humor works and especially in regard to Ben, retains that comic book feel and to me, that is a crucial element that so many superhero movies overlook. This might miss a lot of opportunities, but it comes off like a Fantastic Four movie, not a generic action movie that happens to involve the characters, like so many Marvel films do. The drawbacks are a weak script, the lack of a potent villain, and some ridiculous CGI effects that distract more than entertain. But to be fair, some of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe CGI is so bad, it makes Fantastic Four look like a demo reel for quality effects.

I wouldn’t call the casting choices ideal, but I do think the talent assembled is mostly solid and feels reasonable in the roles. Ioan Gruffudd has the stick up his ass, oblivious presence of Reed down quite well, especially in his interactions with Jessica Alba, as love interest Sue. Alba is passable in the role, but isn’t given much to do and that’s a shame, as Sue is such a strong character. The invisible element is explored a little, mostly for comic value, but her main job seems to remain at the center of Reed and Doom’s rivalry for her affections. Speaking of Doom, as I said, our villain is a let down and Julian McMahon just never finds a proper cadence as Victor Von Doom. He dials up his performance to try to add menace, but it comes off like a soap opera instead and while it is humorous, it lacks the threat the role needed. Chris Evans is forgettable as Johnny, but Michael Chiklis is quite good as Ben. The practical effects used to bring The Thing to life look a little b movie inspired, but miles more effective than low end CGI that would plague later superhero movies. In the end, Fantastic Four is no comic book classic, but it has some moments and at least it feels like a comic book adventure, which gives it an edge over most similar fare.

Use this Amazon link to purchase Fantastic Four (or anything else) and help support my site!