Fantastic Four (2005)

2012 #77
Tim Story | 106 mins | Blu-ray | 2.35:1 | Germany & USA / English | PG / PG-13

Fantastic FourIn the wake of highly successful franchise launches for X-Men and Spider-Man, the next Marvel superheroes to be afforded the big-screen treatment were the Fantastic Four, a kind of family imbued with superpowers after a space accident. “Kind of family” translated to “family movie” for Fox executives, and they produced this dross.

“Family movie” does not automatically equal bad superhero film. Indeed, The Incredibles is one of the sub-genre’s best offerings. I don’t know much about the Fantastic Four comics, but it strikes me that Pixar more successfully hit the tone and style that the makers of this film were aiming for.

The problem I felt is that this incarnation of the FF doesn’t really have a story. They kind of meander through a few things that Happen, then a villain finally emerges and they defeat him. It leaves the film bereft of narrative drive; a series of scenes strung together without a common goal. When those scenes are populated with middling acting, unengaging characters, lacklustre humour, stalled drama, and both practical and computer-generated special effects that look about twice as old as the film is, then the experience you’re left with isn’t entertaining on almost any level.

An interesting footnote about this film is the list of weird, minor regional differences, which don’t bear repeating but are at that link if you’re interested. It also received a surely-unasked-for extended cut on DVD in the US, Fantastic spatswhich included completely different (longer) opening credits; both promenade & planetarium scenes from the regional variations; and mostly new character scenes, as if the film didn’t have enough of those already, or plot extensions that help make more sense of stuff that, actually, more-or-less scanned OK anyway. I can’t imagine anyone wanting an even longer version of this, but it takes all sorts, eh.

They’re re-booting Fantastic Four soon (an unusual summer-season-dodging Spring 2015 release date was recently announced) and I wish them well — the characters have run in comics for over 50 years; there must be something to them. Hopefully those in charge can learn from this film’s mistakes, and the successes of family-friendly efforts like The Incredibles, and give us something so good we can forget this ’00s incarnation ever happened.

2 out of 5

This review is part of the 100 Films Advent Calendar 2012. Read more here.

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