Like many, I was pretty much unimpressed by the theatrical trailers for Fantastic Four and wasn't particularly getting my hopes up for a very good movie. My optimism shrunk even more when the national critical reviews started coming out and the "buzz" wasn't good – with the most notable critic of them all (you know of whom I am speaking) giving the movie only one of his precious four stars.
But you know what? Fantastic Four isn't all that bad…and in a summer full of brooding darkness (see Revenge Of The Sith, Batman Begins and War Of The Worlds), this was actually a welcome change of pace.
The movie pretty much follows the comic book story, with Dr. Reed Richards, Susan Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm getting hit with a blast of solar radiation that alters their genetic code and leaves them with extraordinary powers. The only difference here is in the origin of their nemesis, Dr. Doom, who also gets hit with a blast of radiation as he joins the foursome on their space mission in the opening sequence of the movie.
What makes the Fantastic Four different from most other superheroes – as any fan of the comic will tell you – is that they don't have secret identities…so we don't have to worry about all that "hiding your superpowers to protect those you love" stuff that we get in almost every other superhero movie. The world knows who these guys are…which leads to the more interesting dilemma of "how does a superhero deal with super fame?"
The most well-rounded character in Fantastic Four is Ben Grimm, a.k.a. "The Thing," (played by Michael Chiklis) who has to deal with losing his fiancé when she just can't cope with his transformation. Johnny Storm's character (played by Chris Evans) is also a lot of fun, given that his reaction to his new powers are pretty much the same as the reaction most of us would have: he thinks it's pretty darn cool!
Perhaps the most disappointing character is that of the villain, Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon), who is actually quite interesting early in the film when he's an industrial billionaire, but actually becomes quite silly (both character-wise and visibly) when he dons the familiar Dr. Doom outfit in the last half hour of the picture.
Fantastic Four is perhaps not as good as it could have been, but it's a lot better than you've probably heard and worth seeing while it's still in theaters instead of opting to wait for the DVD. The main story may not have been as interesting as just watching the four lead characters interact with one another…but it's that interaction that makes Fantastic Four as good as it turned out to be. Director Tim Story understands that the interaction between his leads is just as important as any big fight sequences or special effects, so I give him and 20th Century Fox a lot of credit for allowing a lot of moments that might have been cut to remain in the film – I think the movie is probably a lot better because of them.
So don't listen to all those other critics and take the time to check it out for yourself!