Rating: 2 Stars
The following review contains spoilers.
With plenty of ideas and no capital, Reed Richards (with pal Ben Grimm in tow) goes to his wealthy school chum Victor Von Doom with a plan to observe a cosmic storm in space, which Reed claims could provide information with endless commercial potential. Doom approves of the idea, but only if his Director of Genetic Research (and Reed’s ex-girlfriend) Sue Storm and her spaceship pilot brother Johnny accompany them. When the cosmic storm arrives hours ahead of schedule (a plot point that is brought up again later on—“I’ve been going over the figures again and again, and they all add up”—but never actually dealt with in any way) the crew is caught off guard and all are irradiated by the mysterious energy.
Back on Earth, they are recuperating at a hospital/ski resort (featuring Maria Menounos as “Sexy Nurse”) when they begin to discover their mysterious super powers. Reed can stretch, Sue can become invisible, Johnny can burst into flame, and Ben turns huge and rocky. Absurdly, Ben decides that instead of staying at the hospital and figuring out what happened to him, he breaks through the wall of his room, stows away on a train to New York, steals a trenchcoat, and asks his fiancé if she can still love him despite his disfigurement. She’s all like, “Nope!” and runs away. He stomps away sadly to sit on a bridge and contemplate existence.
The rest of the “team” drives to New York, ostensibly to look for Ben, although apparently also to move into Reed’s incredible Manhattan penthouse apartment/lab that he can’t possibly afford given everything we’re told about his situation. They come across a traffic jam, caused by Ben trying to stop a suicide jumper and causing a horrible multi-car pile-up. Everyone uses their super powers to stop the situation Ben created from getting even worse, and they are unanimously praised as super heroes by the eyewitnesses, and named the Fantastic Four by the media. (Also, Ben’s fiancé apparently saw all this on TV, drove down there, got past the traffic jams and barricades, just so she could throw her engagement ring at Ben.)
All of this doesn’t sit well with Victor, who also got super powers (he’s basically Electro except he’s also made of an indestructible metal), and who is losing his company as a result of the space station incident (because his stock has “the fastest free-fall since the Depression” and his “IPO was pulled from the market after the steady decline of its projected opening price”, which, does that make sense? Can you have a stock crash and a projected IPO? Also, what does his company actually do?). He blames Reed for these developments, quite reasonably in this version of Dr. Doom’s origin, and heads to New York to kill them.
Chris Evans is perfectly cast as Johnny Storm, and Michael Chiklis is reasonably cast as Ben Grimm.
The special effects are generally pretty good. They use Reed’s stretchy powers inventively at times, such as when he wraps himself around a rampaging Thing, and when he becomes a tire and rolls himself at Dr. Doom. I also like that the Thing is a crazy prosthetic and not a fake CGI-person.
The action scene on the freeway is pretty good. The final fight against Dr. Doom has some neat moments.
“Don’t even think about it!”
Ioan Gruffudd and Jessica Alba are terrible. Gruffudd at least bears some physical resemblance to the comic book character, but his American accent is painfully strained, and he never comes across as intelligent or presents any leadership qualities. Alba doesn’t even look like Sue Storm, and brings absolutely nothing to the character. Together, they have zero chemistry.
The scene where Alba’s invisibility fails and she’s in her underwear in the street is not only gratuitous and embarrassing, it doesn’t actually make sense. She turns invisible and strips to get the gang across a police barricade, then she’s shown dressing again and complaining, and Reed says “We got through, didn’t we?” But they left out the part where her being nude/invisible actually got them through. So it’s doubly gratuitous!
Reed uses his stretching powers to get a roll of toilet paper while he’s pooping.
A Thing action figure from the “marketing guys” is the origin story for “It’s clobberin’ time!” Why was this needed? Can’t Ben just say it? Also, what marketing guys? This is the first and last indication that there is any kind of corporation working with the team.
It’s not an unwatchable movie, it’s just kind of lame. Its special effects and production quality blow the 1994 movie out of the water, obviously, but it’s got none of that movie’s passion for the source material. It all feels perfunctory.
I dare you to explain this dialogue:
“Give up? That’s not like you, Reed. After all, we’re both doctors.”