Amazing how much two different comic book franchises can be. The Fantastic 4 was one of the grandest comic book series, second only to Spiderman, but the movie derived from the former was worth only a fraction of the latter’s spinoff. Actually, even the X-Men series works much better in movies.
There is something about the characters of the series that doesn’t work as well. In both other franchises, the heros are derelicts fighting for survival and hiding from a cruel society that wants to get rid of superfreaks. Oddly enough, we seem all to be able to empathize with superfreaks, and we’d wish we had the superpowers. Easy transition to believing the story.
With the Fantastic 4, the pity element is not as strong. Just as in the case of Captain America, another franchise soon to make it to the silver screen, this group was constituted by a privileged family, who manages to be well-received by their normal surroundings. Not the classical plot for a pity tale.
On the other end, the movie doesn’t work for intrinsic reasons, too. The script is very weak and focuses on teenage males, a notoriously fickle target, with a vengeance. The device forces a strange concentration on the figure of the Human Torch, in the series the weakest character, whose rebellious nature and sheer brattiness belie the apparent age.
Nonetheless, Human Torch as played by Chris Evans is pretty much the only redeeming feature of this movie. Jessica Alba as Invisible Girl is pretty to look at, but reminds one too much of Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider. Not that that’s bad, but Angelina is in a class of her own, and I couldn’t help wishing she were present on screen. Reed Richard is played by Ioan Gruffudd, who seems to have only one facial expression, somewhere between determination and confusion. Lastly, Michael Chiklis plays a quite decent Thing, especially when in human form.
Special effects could be better. In particular, the Torch should have been brighter and whiter – the petroleum flames quite don’t work up to supernova status. Invisible Girl didn’t work as well as Hollow Man in 2000.
All in all, unless you are under 18 and male, avoid.