Fantastic Four 2005
I recently talked briefly about this movie in my top 10 guilty pleasure superhero movies list even though it had been years since I had seen it last, I also think that it is one of the last few big superhero movies that I’ve yet to review here on this site along with its sequel, Elektra, TMNT, and just a couple others. While I did enjoy it the last time I saw it, I’ve had years of internet loathing to soak its way into my brain as well as years of quality cinema, superhero and otherwise to better allow me to see the flaws in this movie and boy did I ever. Of course, behind all the bad writing, dated special effects, and questionable casting choices there is still some fun to be had watching this movie and above all else, it’s still the Fantastic Four.
I vaguely remember when this film first came out and it was sold on the backs of three people more or less, there was of course Jessica Alba who was on the rise at the time, Michael Chiklis who was in the middle of his run on the Shield (not the S.H.I.E.L.D.), and Julian McMahon from Nip/Tuck. Nowadays Chris Evans is the biggest star to come out of that film and Ioan Gruffudd came out of nowhere and apparently went right back, no offense. It also had some of the biggest special effects of the era and they just do not hold up one bit. The cosmic storm looks like a lightshow, every scene of Mr. Fantastic stretching looks ridiculous and/or part of the uncanny valley, and while I do applaud the decision to make Thing a latex prosthetic instead of full CGI, it just doesn’t look like like anything other than a guy wearing a prosthetic. Besides that, the movie also doesn’t really want to decide how much his weight really affects the environment around him unless it’s part of a joke. He sets off the weight limit on the elevator, breaks a bar stool, but sits comfortably in a restaurant booth which isn’t designed to hold that much weight either. If he was too heavy for the elevator that would make him over 1,000 lbs at least, when you get that much weight upon a single one of his feet, that would at least damage most floors just from him walking on them.
Anyway, while I do claim this as one of my guilty pleasure movies, I have to admit that it is one of the worst origin stories out there. It takes forever to set up the entire team dynamic which finally gels during the second to last scene of the movie. Most of the movie is about their “family” dynamic and how dysfunctional it is, especially when they lock themselves in a pseudo quarantine at Reed Richards’ place. This is the source of contention for many people that dislike the movie, but one of the things that I do still enjoy the most is the antagonistic relationship between Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm, from the shaving cream on the face gag to crushing the car to the initial Thing fake out in the hospital to the prototype Thing toy complete with a high pitched “It’s clobberin’ time!”, it’s a lot of fun. The love triangle however is much more forced. The only way that we know Sue Storm and Victor Von Doom are in a relationship is that they flat out tell us multiple times. Aside from that, they never once act like they are a couple at all, even a struggling couple. The same thing goes for the rekindling of the broken relationship from the past between Sue and Reed Richards, there’s no real chemistry, neither is there a real sense of a broken heart mending. It’s all just delivered to the audience as exposition and old pictures.
As a villain, I will say that while McMahon does a great job getting the feel of Von Doom down, the script is really lacking in a clear motivation. I’ve seen this movie a few times now and I still don’t really know what Doom’s ultimate goal really is once he gets rid of the Fantastic Four. It’s not like they’re even a superhero team that’s set out to defeat him in the first place, he just decides that if he were to use his newfound superpowers to go after world domination through some undetermined plan, the only people that might be able to stop him would be the Fantastic Four, and as Ben Grimm so clearly points out after he is de-powered “There will be no Thing to stop you.” But luckily even though there wasn’t enough power to turn Grimm back to normal, there is plenty of power to re-power him when he decides that it’s the right thing to do. To top things off, they get rid of Mr. Fantastic in one of the dumbest ways possible, and the final, climactic battle really isn’t anything special. I will give it that one of the best moments from the end is when Johnny Storm finally gets his first “Flame on!” moment. It’s one of the few things that the movie sets up well and gives a great pay-off in the end.
This was an interesting look back at this movie, I was expecting to see a lot more of the flaws both because of how often they have been pointed out on the internet, and because of how much more closely I’ve been looking at movies in the past few years since I started this site. There is a whole lot of it that doesn’t hold up well at all, but for the most part I still had a fun time watching this movie. I still liked the moments with Alicia and Ben Grimm, though I found it odd that when she first went to “see” him, she started at his chest. I thought Chiklis was a great choice to play the Thing even though he was too often used for comic relief, and Chris Evans looks so young in this movie it was a trip! I don’t think I’ll dive right into the sequel just yet, though I won’t put it off for too long. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.