Fantastic Four (2005) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This is normally the portion of the commentary when I describe the plot, but that won't be easy, because there isn't one. You see, Fantastic Four is not a movie at all. It is just a very long self-contained flashback scene from a future movie. At least it feels that way. That is an inherent problem, of course, in any film with five major super-powered characters. Compare it, for example, to Spiderman 2, in which our intrepid hero is already established, so there's only Doc Ock's origin to develop. One guy. On the other hand, the FF movie has five characters of equal stature, and is therefore saddled with five times as much back-story as Spiderman 2. That does not consist merely of explicatory narrative. It's showing in some clever way how each of the five discovered his powers. It's some lighthearted demonstrations of unusual applications of their capabilities. It's some character development and history for all five of them.

And then the film ran out of time.

Other films, like X-Men, have managed more characters successfully, but the entire FF movie is an "origin issue" for all of the characters. X-Men knew better than to attempt that folly.

If it had been my decision, I would have wanted the film series to start running, by using Marvel's very best Fantastic Four story, perhaps the battle against Galactus and Silver Surfer. To hell with the damned origins. I don't even care how they got their powers. If the research shows that most people do have to have that included in the movie, bring in Michael York to play Basil Exposition, and he can explain it to a newspaper reporter in a couple of witty paragraphs. Yes, I know that would be boring and hackneyed, but it would be short, and the editor can make it more exciting by showing some visuals while he speaks.

The only thing I really liked about this movie was Julian McMahon as the villain, and I was enthusiastic only about what he did in the first half, when he was Victor Von Doom, and was really attempting to make the character real and multi-dimensional rather than a cartoon bad guy. In the second half, when he became Doctor Doom, he was just the usual megalomaniacal costumed freak who always appears in comics as nothing more than a prop for the heroes. McMahon could have been great if they had let him be the Doctor Doom of the early comics: brilliant, aesthetic, wounded, capable of great sensitivity to match his great rage, and honor to match his scheming. Unfortunately, most of his movie schtick consisted of the "buahahahaha" portion of the entertainment. In the very brief time when he used subtle conniving to turn Ben against Reed, he demonstrated what a great villain he might have been, but that phase was quickly over, replaced by the mad scientist stuff and lots of explosions.

In comparison to the the best recent super-hero films, FF is not in the same league. It can't really be compared to X-2 or Batman Begins, because it doesn't exist in their noir world. Although the Fantastic Four were Marvel heroes, this movie reminds me more of the juvenile DC comics of the 50s than the daring Marvel comics of the late 60s and 70s which took on cosmic ideas as well as social and political issues. Like the Superman comics of the fifties, and like their realization on Saturday morning TV, it's filled with jokey, cartoony sorts of characters spouting grade-B expository dialogue in a pastel-colored fantasy world, and has nothing more profound on its mind than sexual and career jealousy. It should have ended with the characters winking at the camera! (And it almost did!)

On the other hand, it's a passable popcorn film. I sat back, let it wash over me, and enjoyed some moments. If you are older than 12, you will probably consider it no more than a childish bit of shallow fun, but what's wrong with that? That's basically what the Spidey movies are as well. To tell you the truth, there is nothing really wrong with Fantastic Four except that it is merely a prequel for Fantastic Four Two.

  • Commentary by: Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, and Ioan Gruffud (Unknown Format)
  • 3 deleted scenes
  • The Fantastic Tour: Exclusive behind-the-scenes home video hosted by the entire cast
  • Making of Fantastic Four
  • Fox Movie Channel Presents Casting Session & Making A Scene
  • Music videos: Everything Burns, Come On Come In, Music
  • Exclusive inside look at X-Men 3 - hosted by producer Avi Arad


There is one completely unexpected frame in which Jessica Alba's right breast is exposed!

The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus out of four stars: less than two   stars. James Berardinelli 2.5/4, Roger Ebert 1/4

  • British consensus out of four stars: exactly two stars. Mail 4/10,  Independent 2/10, Guardian 8/10, Times 4/10, Sun 5/10, Express 6/10, Mirror 6/10, FT 4/10, BBC 3/5.

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. Despite a weak critical reception (Ebert: One Star), it was a hit, with a domestic gross of $154 million, and another $170 million overseas. The budget was $100 million.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, it's a C. A decent watch for genre fans, but it's targeted at 12 year olds and hasn't much depth.

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