Fantastic Four Movie Review
A few years ago it was Denise Richards as history's leastcredible nuclear physicist in the James Bond flick "TheWorld Is Not Enough." This January's demonic-horrorvideo-game clunker "AloneIn the Dark" featured party tart Tara Reidas an archeologist who could barely deliver a coherent sentence withoutmispronouncing words.
Now comes ring-a-dingy Jessica Alba -- hitherto known forplaying dancers and strippers -- as smokin' hot Sue Storm, a 23-year-old"director of genetic research" who becomes a radiation-mutatedsuperhero in the bumbling, big-budget but Z-movie-bad adaptation of Marvelcomics' "Fantastic Four."
Sent into space along with a paper-thin cast of compatriots(a geneticist ex-boyfriend, her failed-astronaut brother, an ex-NASA pilotand a transparently evil billionaire), Sue and this group of supposed geniusescan't even keep track of the glowing cloud of gases they're supposed tobe studying. Promptly overrun when the interstellar storm apparently sneaksup behind their space station, each of them returns home with strange newpowers.
Sue develops the ability to generate force fields and turninvisible (used as an excuse to get Alba naked since her clothes remainopaque), but neither gift helps her convincingly deliver lines like, "Youshould know those solar winds have been picking up," and "Thenew read-outs are very promising."
Handsomely geeky Reed Richards (angular 30-something IoanGruffudd from A&E's "Horatio Hornblower") turns into rubber-bodiedteam leader Mr. Fantastic, and continues to pine for Sue with all the corninesshe can muster while seeking a cure for their "condition." Sue'sobnoxiously egotistical sibling Johnny Storm (blandly young-n-hunky ChrisEvans from "Cellular")becomes The Human Torch, using his burst-into-fire powers to pick up chicks.Reed's moody tough-guy pilot pal Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis from FX's "TheShield") transforms into an indestructible rock-like being calledThe Thing.
And the group's greedy corporate boss Victor Von Doom (plastic-lookingJulian McMahon from FX's "Nip/Tuck") finds his body morphinginto electricity-conducting metal and decides to destroy the other fourso he can take over the world, or something like that. But with a nameas ridiculous as Von Doom, what else is he supposed to do?
This C-list cast is subject to obsolete CGI effects andcharacters thinner than the pages of the movie's horrible highlights-reelscreenplay, by the same guy who helped over-think "TheHulk" and dumb down "ThePunisher." It's often little more thana catalog of obvious contrivances, atrocious exposition, and time-wasting"extreme, dude!" action scenes of snowboarding and motocrossracing.
With the exception of Chiklis, who infuses The Thing withgenuine melancholy, the actors seem almost eager to sink to the script'slevel -- and none more so than McMahon, who turns Doom's cheap cartoonvillainy into a source of unintentional snickers. (As lame as he is, thepathetically simplistic heroes are much dumber, as they're so easily manipulatedby Doom's blatant attempts to drive a wedge between them.)
The superhero genre has been intelligently revitalizedof late thanks to great directors like Sam Raimi (the "Spider-Man"movies) Bryan Singer (the "X-Men"movies) and Christopher Nolan ("BatmanBegins"). But comedy director Tim Story("Taxi,""Barbershop")is out of his depth in "Fantastic Four," which may be the worstcomic-book picture since "Batman and Robin" almost buried that franchiseeight years ago. That is, unless you stretch the definition to include"Catwoman,"which went so far past awful it became wildly entertaining through thesheer power of irony.
No such luck here. But if forced to say something niceabout this bomb, I'd offer up that there are a few good one-liners ("That'sgross," Johnny remarks when Reed first tests out his elasticity) andthat Chiklis's rock-body makeup almost looks like it's not made of foam.