Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Fantastic Four - Simply Fantastic

The Fantastic Four movie convinces us once again that superheroes can be miserable.

What we forget is the FF started this trend in Marvel comics more than 30 years ago, before Spider-Man took angst to its Nth degree.

The screenplay is superb. I noticed that little kids in the movie tended to be restless during much of the movie, as the film takes a real effort, and a lot of time, to explain who these people are. The moral of the Fantastic Four has always been, and should always be, that more gets accomplished when they work together than when they do things separately. And the screenplay subtly points this out.

I questioned the casting choices about a year ago when I heard who had been chosen for Dr. Doom, Reed Richards, Sue Storm, et al., but I am happy to say that these choices were superbly made. Julian McMahon of Nip/Tuck fame shows a quiet but forceful anger as Victor Von Doom. We can't exactly explain how Latveria fits into all this, but who cares. I have always believed that Dr. Doom was the prototype for Darth Vader but never got enough credit. Dr. Doom acquits himself well in the movie.

Ioan Gruffudd is masterful as the real backbone of the Fantastic Four, tentative to take a stand, intellectual instead of emotional when he should be. While the Invisible Girl has always been the weak point of the FF in the comic book, she turns out to be the emotional center point of the group in Jessica Alba. Sue Storm is written better in the movie than in the comic-- but, after all, Marvel scriptwriters did not know how to deal with women that well.

And Chris Evans was a brilliant choice as hotshot Johnny Storm, aka The Torch. He's the brash one, the young one, the guy you and I would probably be if we were turned into a powerful but freaky superhero.

Ben Grimm is the monster, the man we have all come to know as The Thing. He comes to understand what true love means through loss in the film, and grows in spite of his fears. He makes the ultimate sacrifice to save his friends, and the movie builds wonderfully to a conclusion that allows us to realize what this really means to him.

Together, these four personalities make up one complete person. They argue, they fight, but together they function. Without each other, they can't. It's a powerful lesson, even for a comic book film.

Thumb's up for the latest Marvel marvel.


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