I watched the DVD of Fantastic Four on Sunday with my kids. It was part of my Christmas DVD extravaganza – I got more than a couple of DVDs again this year. Many of them are ones that I pick up for myself and then let people wrap for me. One of them, The Simpsons Season 6, I bought last August and it sat waiting for me since then. Fortunately I had plenty to watch between then and now. And these new DVDs will take me months to get through.
But what I watched this weekend was Fantastic Four, another in the series of Marvel Comic films. Although I was a comic book fan in my younger years I was more of a DC fan (Superman, Batman, etc) than a Marvel fan. That’s because Marvel was just a startup back then and the DC heroes were more well established early on. The Fantastic Four, for example, started as a comic when I was 7 years old so they weren’t well known, especially compared to the DC heroes. But I have very much enjoyed the release of many of the Marvel films over the past few years. I really liked the Spider-Man movies and the two X-Men films. I even liked Daredevil a little although, as an Alias fan, Jennifer Garner made the movie for me. One major exception was Hulk which I saw at a dollar theater with my brother-in-law in Fort Wayne. I felt like I needed to apologize for the money he spent.
Fantastic Four might just be the most lighthearted of the current spate of superhero movies so it is mostly just fun fluff. The characters, while not carefully developed, are at least fun in their stereotypical way. The five characters (the Fantastic Four and their arch nemesis Dr Doom) all get their special powers through an excessive dose of space radiation. The Human Torch gets to have a lot of fun with his character and actor Chris Evans did a nice job making him a likable scoundrel. Jessica Alba is pretty wooden as Sue Storm (Invisible Girl) but actually might be better than Ioan Grufford as Reed Richards (Mr Fantastic). It says something when the most emotive character’s face is hidden under a huge rubber costume and is called “The Thing.” Michael Chiklis does a fine job as Ben Grimm both pre- and post-irradiation. The plot is pretty thin - I would have thought that if the guy funding your science project in space is named Victor Von Doom I might have expected things to not go real well but what do I know. The film takes no unexpected twists and turns and the action sequences are generally easy to follow. The bridge scene – where we first see the Four in action, is very nicely done.
If you’re coming to Fantastic Four to see a fine film which will give you insight into the human condition you clearly have your priorities messed up. This is lightweight fun which succeeds (more or less) at that level. Watch this movie with low expectations and you might enjoy it.