Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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July 12, 2005

"Fantastic Four" falls short of being fantastic

by Payal Patnaik, Online Editor-in-Chief
"Fantastic Four" hit theaters July 8 as comic book aficionados and other common moviegoers eagerly awaited its release. Fantastic 4 was a comic book series that launched the revival of Marvel as a leading producer of comics in the 1960s. The series holds an important place in comic book history, and although the movie is enjoyable, it falls short of being fantastic.

Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), a geeky scientist, and his hardy buddy Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) propose to Victor von Doom (Julian McMahon), a rich egocentric and Reed's former classmate, to study certain cosmic rays that alter DNA upon contact. Victor approves of the mission and the chosen crew, consisting of himself, his beautiful assistant Susan Storm (Jessica Alba), her cocky brother Johnny Storm (Chris Evans), Ben and Reed. The crew is exposed to cosmic radiation when the rays pass through the ship earlier than anticipated. The crewmembers wake up a few days later in Victor's labs and soon realize that the radiation accident gave them superpowers. Since Victor was deeper inside the ship, everyone else assumes that he was not affected as they are.

Soon after this realization, their superpowers are put to the test atop the Brooklyn Bridge, as they save the scene from disaster. They become known as the "Fantastic Four," with Reed - the leader of the group who is made of rubber - as Mr. Fantastic; Ben, a large red rock, as The Thing; Susan as The Invisible Woman (originally called The Invisible Girl in the comics); and Johnny as the Human Torch, with flames spouting from his body that perfectly suit his hot-headed and daring nature.

The characters learn to accept their change and embrace their destiny as they face their biggest challenge, Doctor Victor von Doom. Even that comic book name easily tells the audience that Victor will be the bad guy in the movie. Victor is transforming into a man made of metal, with powers more formidable and deadly than any one of the Four. But the Four demonstrate that they can defeat even the most imposing enemy through teamwork and unity.

The Four are like a quarreling, dysfunctional family, with Susan and Reed as the parents and Ben and Johnny as the quarreling siblings. Johnny's playful teasing of Ben, and Ben's gruff and sulky comebacks only add to the humor, as do Susan's scolding exchanges with Johnny. Johnny's lighthearted and endearing childishness keeps the plot interesting. He is young, hot-headed and reckless, making his role as the Human Torch a good match with his personality.

The characters are cast well, and each of the actors step up to their roles well while already looking the part. Alba's soft face serves well to establish her as the motherly figure of the Four, and, of course, she also draws even more of an audience to the movie. However, she seems to pose more for the camera in some sort of flattering position rather than really doing much of any importance. Gruffudd looks like the perfect dork, and Chiklis is a lovely, sulking man. Evans looks every bit the part of a rash and irresponsible extreme sports enthusiast. And McMahon plays his evil, cold, egocentric personality beautifully.

The plot's a bit too predictable, but the constant jokes and the hard rock music coupled with certain scenes keep the plot moving and the audience entertained. Though it's essentially just a shallow display of cool digital effects, "Fantastic Four" is a great film to watch. However, it does not offer any new perspective or lesson about life as many superhero movies tend to do. There's not any depth beyond cheesy humor tied to a storyline of superheroes trying to save the world.

Don't expect to marvel at this Marvel movie as you may have with "Spider-Man" or "Batman Begins." The film is only worth watching if you are looking for nothing more than simple entertainment.

"Fantastic Four" is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action, and some suggestive content.

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  • doom on July 13, 2005 at 9:24 AM
    dr. doom should have won.....
  • meh on July 14, 2005 at 1:32 PM
    If you're going to do a superhero movie right after the 2 Spiderman films, and Batman Begins, don't make it so corny.
  • eh (View Email) on July 17, 2005 at 7:36 PM
    havent seen it
  • hm.... on July 19, 2005 at 3:59 PM
    the only two people in the movie worth watching was dr. doom and the thing....
  • yo on July 20, 2005 at 4:52 PM
    great job, payal!
  • payal fan on November 4, 2005 at 2:07 PM
    great job, payaL!
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