Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fantastic Four (7.8.05)

Director: Tim Story Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon Co-Starring: Kerry Washington, Hamish Linklater Watch for: Stan "The Man" Lee, this time playing a character he created. Editor(s): William Hoy <--- The version I own.

Yes, it's been a while since I've put up a review. Life's been crazy busy.

At any rate, I shall keep on plugging through the Marvel reviews. I would love to get through all of them.

So, chronologically speaking, the next is Fantastic Four. If there were ever a translation of characters to the screen that was more accurate to the look and feel of the source material, I have yet to see it.

Sure, they changed a couple of outdated details regarding the origin, this has happened to every comic film that's come out lately, and it is a movie and not a comic series, so there is only so much you can do, but when I sat down and watched this movie, when it was over I just remember thinking "Those four were perfect". Of course all the technology has been updated. For instance, they fly up in a space shuttle in the comics and get blasted by cosmic rays while inside, whereas in the movie the shuttle docks with a space station, and that's where the incident occurs. It's just little things, and I think they all help more than hurt.

The biggest complaint I've heard about is Dr. Doom not really being as cool as the original. Just this last year I finally got around to reading some F4 material, and honestly... I don't know what they're thinking. Doom is a little more in touch with the mystical than he was in the movie, but in terms of attitude, he's a scheming, cheesy-lined classic comic villain. I'll admit the Marvel Ultimate Alliance Doom was infinitely cooler than the F4 movie, but as far as the source material, Doom seems just fine to me. He had a plan. It's common in a material with a running fan base like this for people to think very highly of their favorite characters, even to the point where their expectations are unreachable. Everyone reads the same comic a different way. I suppose I'm more of a casual fan of the F4, mostly seeing them in Spider-Man or other comics, as they did tend to get around quite a bit. Actually, it's a shame they're not part of the Marvel Studios line-up; they'd do well in the crossovers. It's a little late to help Spidey get rid of the symbiote, but that wasn't exactly their only accomplishment.

Anyway. The movie itself is a bit more lighthearted than the other Marvel films thus far. Spidey was pretty easy-going, but during the final battle things definitely got personal, and nobody was joking around. The F4? They were hilarious. We'd all seen the ads a hundred times before the movie.

Thing: Ladies, I'm going to need to borrow your car. Old lady: The transmission sticks! Thing: Not a problem. [throws the car at Doom]

Of course, the silly thing about that is we see that line so many times, and then in the movie they used a different recorded version, so it's a bit off-putting when you realize it. "Not gonna be a PROBLEM!" Anyway, that sort of thing happens all the time, it has little effect on the quality of the movie (even though I'm used to the old line still, the new one works just as well). Just a sidenote along those lines: Every (straight) guy out there noticed Jessica Alba in their ad campaigns, in the skin-tight jumpsuit with the zipper strategically placed to show just enough to maintain a PG rating. Not once in the movie did she have her outfit zipped that low. That's just a plain good business model, if you ask me. Pun intended.

I could run down the list and compare each of the 4 to their comic versions, Mr. Fantastic was the scientist, always hard-working, pulls any invention he wants out of his ass, blah blah, but there's no need. They were in the comics as they are in the movie. You see one, you've seen the other.

People didn't like this movie because it was a comedy. Check your source material, buddy. The F4 are the sitcom of the superhero world. I told this to one such critic, and he was surprised upon that revelation. They're supposed to be goofy. Johnny accidently lighting fire to the kitchen happens all the time. Reed stretching his arm across the hall for extra toilet paper (though you should really keep in the same room like normal people) isn't anything out of the ordinary for these guys.

I do believe they had a few modernizations to help explain their powers, though. Sue's powers, for example, are closely linked to her emotions. She gets angry, she goes invisible. Also, adding the bit about her nose bleeding when she's really exerting herself was a very nice touch. If we ever do get a third film, I kind of hope she'll have to go all out for some reason, and will have some sort of brain medical problem. It seems like they were sitting on their hands for that, but they definitely should go more into it later. Why doesn't it happen to the others, for example? Are their powers not as closely linked to their brains?

So, plot-wise, the film is a bit dramatic. The main plot is actually about Ben, and his desire to be normal again. The plot shifts a couple of times though, but it works. It starts about Reed and Ben wanting to get into space to study a cloud that will change science as we know it, or something. Instead they all get zapped, powers, hooray. From then on out, it's about Ben and his inability to accept the extreme nature of his transformation, with a sub-plot with "what the heck is up with this Doom guy?" Then Doom eventually goes a little mad, gets a little crazy, and voila, final battle sequence, in which Ben realizes that he was being selfish, and they are better off together. There are a couple of NYC hero, post 9-11 moments in this film as well, such as Ben saving firefighters and people surrounding and cheering for their heroes. I don't have a problem with it, it's always nice when a fictional hero saves a real one, but they do sort of hit you over the head.

I like the movie. I find very little wrong with it, aside from the fact that this movie was sponsor heavy. F4 was all over the place when it came out, they definitely put all their weight into this movie. I was working in a theatre when it was released, and I can understand why they had to do this. The F4 may be the first comic family, established back in the 60's, but the superhero market has become so saturated with characters that they've been pushed to the back. People had forgotten who they were. In the theatre, my most vivid memory is a mother taking her kids to a movie, and the one they wanted to see wasn't playing yet, or something. I forget why, but they looked around at the posters in the lobby to see what they should see instead, and she asked me what Fantastic 4 was. "Well, did your kids see the Incredibles?" I asked.

"Sure, they love it." "Well this is where they got the idea from." "Oh, really. Wow."

How interested in this fact she actually was remains to be seen, but blargh. In that moment, the rip-off was more popular. That disturbs me to no end. I love the F4, I've always been a fan of them, even if I relied on them in other series rather than their own. I enjoyed this movie immensely (first movie I ever saw on my own too, since I had to work opening night and wanted to be able to tell people about it while I worked the box office), along with the sequel, and I seriously hope they do more.

I just got the extended director's cut thingamajig last week during a mad sale, but haven't had a chance to watch it yet. Soon, definitely.

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