Thursday, July 21, 2005

If there wasn't a female, they could be the "Mediocre Men": "Fantastic Four"

Hey there, good to be back. Anyone here from Queens? I'm from normal parents myself ...

Although I was traveling quite a bit in recent days, I found time to head to the movie house earlier this week. Of course, I was dying to see "Wedding Crashers" but held off because, as I may have shared, the missus has a thing for Owen Wilson, aka He-Whose-Nose-We-Cannot-Comprehend. I also didn't want anything too heavy because (a) I had a lot on my mind and (b) really didn't want to think too much. And if I had gone to "March of the Penguins" by myself some parents might have called the cops.

Alas, this has proved to be a dangerous recipe for movie disaster in the past, and "Fantastic Four" was no exception. The movie isn't very good, period, but when you throw a New York ticket price -- $10.75, and that doesn't include a salad -- into the mix, a theater riot is a distinct possibility. No cop would arrest us, though.

The basic premise of "Four" is known. A group of scientists/pilots go into space and get zapped by kooky cosmic rays. Back on earth, they discover various superpowers, i.e. turning into flame, becoming invisible, stretching all over the place. Then you also have one guy becoming super strong, but the price is that he looks like a cracked orange rock. Yes, it does put a crimp in his love life.

This group ends up doing battle with the tycoon who financed their space mission and came back with his own power, which is ... generating power, I guess. Never got the specifics on what happened to him, other than he could shoot lightning bolts from his hands and decided metal was a good facial look. More important is how all this fun plays out on screen, and the answer is not that great.

To no one's surprise, I enjoy mindless fun as much as the next guy, even if it's a bit ironic when scientists are involved. But it's clear the stakes have been raised when it comes to comic book movies. Forget "Spider-Man" or even "Batman Begins" ... "X-Men" and "X2" were more fun than "Fantastic Four" while still making more sense and even straying into "intelligent" every now and then. Here we just have pedestrian storytelling and performances, and nothing that makes you think or feel.

Sure, Michael Chiklis ("Daddio") takes a shot at pathos as The Thing, cursed with his horrifying appearance. And Chris Evans ("Not Another Teen Movie") is amusing as The Human Torch. (Although yelling "Flame on!" might have a slightly different meaning these days.) But this doesn't offset the other one-note performances, including Jessica Alba hilariously trying to convince everyone that she went to MIT. Yeah, I believed Mr. Fantastic and Dr. Doom were into you, but I suspect it wasn't so much your doctorate as the prospect of playing doctor.


At 12:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alba and that Ian guy (reed richards) were just as, if not more, terrible than clooney and odonnell. please get them some acting lessons about character study and a comic book. I thought the movie was somewhat bearable, but what do you expect going into it thinking it would be another Garbage Pail Kids movie.


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