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Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.5%
Worth A Look: 10%
Average: 20.5%
Pretty Bad: 22%
Total Crap43%

16 reviews, 104 user ratings

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Fantastic Four (2005)
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by Marc Kandel

"Rocky Effects, Invisible Logic, Stretched Performances, & Burnout Plot"
2 stars

“The Fantastic Four” is sloppy and fractured, yet stubbornly entertaining. Extremely similar to “The Hulk” in lousy buildup, useless character revisions and wrongheaded focus, “FF” has better momentum due to a lighter touch towards its characters; and that’s me at my most forgiving. Onto the slaughter- I’m taking my time with this lemon as the property is dear to me (Doom & Sue were my wedding cake topper for corn’s sake). You want the short version you just got it, I’m continuing on with my cleaver.

Plot: Five adventurers go up in space to study a form of energy for scientific purposes and are mutated by the energy. Upon their return they are exposed to the public and must adjust to their new physical and social conditions, four finding degrees of acceptance, one losing everything and hungering for revenge.

Is it an action film, sci-fi, satire, sitcom or character study? Who knows? Who cares? It’s got folks made of rock, water, air and fire! And those are just 4 of the 40 writers who stapled chunks of the 400 dusty scripts together! This truly is the film hammered out by a dozen monkeys on typewriters, without even one line from Hamlet to show for it. Inconsistencies, poorly written dialogue, and flat out stupid choices perforate “FF”. Adding disastrous miscasting (Julian McMahon, Jessica Alba), misuse of talent (Michael Chiklis, Ioan Gruffudd), and wacky comic relief (Chris Evans) can make any film a real squirm to sit through, much less a superhero one, which already has the Damoclesian “comic book” label hanging over it. But the yuks keep it moving, mostly through the rapport between the Thing and the Human Torch (the most faithful aspect of the comic, perfectly preserved), and are just fun enough in most instances to save a viewing, if not the day. Look closely at that last sentence- “a viewing” is probably all this turkey will get, certainly from me, and certainly according to the box office drop off since its amazingly profitable opening weekend which will hopefully provide us with a better tailored sequel. Based on this effort, I do not have high hopes.

This was a superhero film that had everything going for it by virtue of having an entirely different recipe with which to concoct an original entry in the genre. The makers did not need to figure out new permutations of loners against the crowd, losing loved ones to prompt their choices, get their powers, fear the public, or learn a lesson like Batman, Spidey, Hulk, Daredevil, Elektra, Superman, Punisher, X-Men, etc. This is a close-knit family with superpowers further defined by the interesting aspects that come with the power: tragedy (the Thing) mixed with challenge and excitement (Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman) and backed with fun and humor (Human Torch). Each part creates a unique whole unfettered by previous conventions. Nobody has to wear a mask or change their identities- the FF get to explore superherodom as public individuals, celebrities even- no worries about covering up your whereabouts or your mask getting ripped off for the 50th time or what if uncle or officer so-and-so finds out my secret!? It’s a clean pallet to create upon which the filmmakers are content to drizzle over with melted crayons; colorful but cheap, childish and uninspired.

“The Incredibles,” FF’s only real competitor, aped the formula set by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in the 60’s- and they recreated it almost perfectly despite playing to the kids (and not at the expense of some genuine pathos and mature stakes). “Fantastic Four,” which still could have set itself apart by taking the straight approach, barely scrapes by as a pale shadow of Pixar’s upstart superhero family, rather than the original that started it all. Sadly, it’s too little, too late- there’s no wonder, no grandeur, and certainly no innovation. The Invisible Woman does a useless strip tease seen in every invisible man film to even less effect here and for no real point other than to stroke the imaginative promise of Jessica Alba’s self-proclaimed sacrosanct, forbidden teats (and even this is better than sitting through the hesitant, baffled delivery of her “smart” lines), Mr. Fantastic grabs toilet paper from two rooms away without leaving the Fantastoilet (just in case you were wondering how low the film was willing to stoop for a laugh, yes, that low), the Human Torch applies his gifts to extreme sports (but more time is applied projecting shameless eyefuls of sponsoring products wallpapering the set- get X-box and eat Burger King kids! Story? What story? Tim Story! Who? Exactly.), and The Thing… well, actually, his physical schtick isn’t bad but it’s dragged down by the banality of his cohorts and most of the dumb situations that call for him to exert himself. Feeling Fantastified yet? Me neither.

The adaptation from comic to film here is, as usual, lacking for no real defensible reasons when juxtaposed against the incredibly foolish script choices for dealing with said adaptation complications. A prime example, is Dr. Doom’s rise from tormented outcast gypsy to domineering metal garbed ruler, left to the imagination ostensibly for running time purposes- he is now an easily explainable, instantly identifiable wealthy, media-savvy industrialist- a born and bred capitalist lording over an American financial empire- he is given powers through accident instead of taking the time to create them himself, and is virtually unrecognizable from his comic incarnation. Then, mid-way through the film, the origin mutates as we have no less than three references to the country of Latveria- all lacking any sort of context or explanation (or accent). So the audience basically has to pull themselves out of the ongoing mess of a plot, stop, try and ponder what the hell just went on, and then try to catch up with the rest of the spiraling nonsense.

Many of you may be unfamiliar with the character, concept, and importance of Dr. Doom. You might really not care at all who this lame Green Goblin rip off is (just look at the scene that is almost line for line with Norman Osborn’s ousting from Oscorp), and you sure won’t through the efforts of this film. Doom is a character that once inspired a young George Lucas with an idea of how he wanted a particular villain in his stories to appear and act- Need I say more? I was more impressed by Shredder in the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. In fact, I was more impressed by the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. “FF” bears more resemblance to “TMNT’s “gaudy sequel, minus the Vanilla Ice soundtrack (though peppered with equally banal tracks from losers whose career runs won’t even have the dying road flare longevity of ol’ Nilla Wafer). Doom's fey sashaying lackey akin to an impotent "Smithers" further dilutes this grand villain's potency.

There are so many weak plot points and stupid decisions on display, one review can barely take the whole piece on (I recommend at least any three others on this site for a full spectrum of the movie's blunders): The Thing’s two and a half scene wife (I count the horrid moment where Ben does the ol’ “I love her so much, she’s everything to me” speech, always an effective alert that this relationship is headed for toilet town), his forgetting said wife (the character barely rates a name beyond this as a plot contrivance rather than an individual with a history and personality) a couple of scenes after she returns his ring (perhaps the most super-powered moment of the film- a woman from Brooklyn circumvents a NYC bridge traffic jam and police lines on foot- now that's impressive) the very moment a blind woman “sees” past his monstrous exterior (is it insulting to blind people to infer that they would find the tactile sensation of a ton of living gravel and asphalt somehow more bearable then the rest of us? The comics made it seem plausible, this film does not- not even remotely- Alicia comes off as a random bar-hopping handicap overcoming cliché with a fetish for concrete cock and little else- oh, and she’s black too, isn’t that nice and all-inclusive?), Doom’s ambiguous relationship with Sue (did they have sexual congress or didn’t they, and why is he asking for her hand in marriage when its barely established if they even do heavy petting) and her unconvincing undying torch for Reed despite two years having past since they last saw each other much less dated, and so on and so on and lord there is only so much I can add before I have three pages of a laundry-listed run-on sentence. Basically there’s a considerably deep, formidable mire of senselessness to slosh through here.

This movie is an extended version of the few awkward, clumsy scenes in the first Spider-Man film, the uneventful scenes of the Hulk film and all of Daredevil and Elektra drawn out for another misguided 106 minute run without the exciting, captivating payoffs of the very first example, and all of the head-slapping mistakes of the latter three, as if there is a stubborn refusal to learn from what has failed so many times before. There is nothing more I hate than clichéd static action scenes- the immobilized hero just sitting there whilst the villain spouts badly written rhetoric- so lame, yet too many of Marvel character films cleave to this tired old chestnut like it’s one of the Titanic’s lifeboats. And the kinetic action scenes are even more embarrassing because we have seen them all, every one, in other movies, done better by other movies- both Superman’s and the first Spider-Man immediately spring to mind- hell, they don’t just spring, they punch through with atomic fuelled jet-packs- so much so that I need not go into them here- you WILL recognize these moments, every one. It bespeaks a lack of imagination, certainly laziness, if not flat out theft.

We have 3/4ths of a family sitcom and 10 minutes total of what might be defined as actual super-heroics. At least 5 minutes of this is random, badly choreographed property damage with no actual goal in mind- some might say that’s acceptable, I need a bit more reason behind my carnage, or at least more reason than this movie offers up. I really liked the team hanging out at the Baxter Building going out of their minds with boredom, unsure of what to do next and wondering how life will go from here on out. But its a lot of time to wait for one of the most anti-climactic battles ever filmed, which, as I mentioned before rips off about 80% of all climactic sci-fi battles ever filmed (Terminator 2, Superman 2, etc. - Christ, they ripped off sequels, no less). Pretty sad, particularly as the action scenes paled in contrast to most of the character interaction scenes- and those were only good 40% of the time.

If not for the amount of fun had in watching 2/4ths of the Family Fantastic interact with each other, this film would deflate completely under the weight of its inadequacy. From the elephant in the room perspective, it’s hardly another “Batman and Robin”- though I’m sure as he nestles within the depths of his neon & nylon sepulcher Joel Schuemacher probably itches to get his knob-lusting hands on a character known for saying “Flame On” so he can vigorously schlurp the life out of another beloved comic property leaving it flaccid and drained. Tim Story only does this through his not being adept in the action genre and working with a patchwork script that does not know where it wants to go. To his credit, he realizes that the film need not be as joyless and plodding as the Hulk’s tragic yet yawn inducing tale, though he does not make even the slightest attempt at depth Ang Lee strove to reach- at least none that the audience can take seriously.

Every time I start to think Marvel has paid attention to the successful content in their films vs. the choices that have failed, finally figuring out how to produce a wholly satisfactory epic about a few of their beloved characters, they pull another false start like this out of the hat, content to spatter property after property on us for a summer run at the piggy bank. And with “Batman Begins” still in theaters illustrating an exemplary, fully fleshed out superhero movie that does not kick its characters in the balls no matter how questionable the original medium is to our snobbish culture, it is flat out inexcusable that the wonderful, once upon a time groundbreaking concept of the Fantastic Four is given throwaway summer flick treatment that fails to excite and uplift.

Story, Performance, Balance…These are things for lesser films; what are they to Doom? What Indeed.

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originally posted: 07/22/05 05:31:40
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User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell cheesy crap 1 stars
8/05/10 Dr.Lao Could have done with less angst and more action. Oh yeah, and Doom was a huge misfire. 3 stars
8/21/08 The Dork Knight I actually liked Dr Doom despite what everyone says 2 stars
8/07/08 Shaun Wallner This movie was funny!! 5 stars
6/22/08 David V Not good...not good at all. 2 stars
9/26/07 dude yawn 1 stars
7/17/07 MaDmAN Nice looking movie, i liked the villain just too much whining and moaning 4 stars
6/20/07 mr.mike not bad at all (on video).... 4 stars
6/06/07 Blizz POOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
5/24/07 Tracey Chambers boring, ugly, and stupid 1 stars
5/24/07 action movie fan disappointing adaption of very good marvel comic superheros 3 stars
5/15/07 967 What a horrible movie, they try to get get rid of their powers the whole film. WTF? 1 stars
3/20/07 dude crud 2 stars
2/22/07 johnnyfog I liked Dr Doom, but that's about it. Still better than Superman Returns 2 stars
2/20/07 Angie OMG!! How did this ever happened. Not saying it's the end of the world, but seriously. 1 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega It's like reading a comic book. 3 stars
11/27/06 Austin Wertman A BIT OF A BORE. TERRIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 2 stars
11/03/06 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 3 stars
10/17/06 Anthony Feor This movie and X-Men 3 should never have been made 1 stars
10/08/06 ed terrible on just about every level 1 stars
9/19/06 bullit16 So bad, on so many levels 1 stars
9/02/06 Tricia Not perfect, but not entirely horrible either, IMO.I 4 stars
6/23/06 George It was okay, but The story is undeveloped. 3 stars
5/03/06 Cuenzie Wunzie It's a Joke, right? 1 stars
4/06/06 Fred WOW ! very informative ...and i like those pics of ur nephew , so cute !! can see that u pu 5 stars
4/02/06 JM Synth Not as annoying as it looked from the trailers 3 stars
2/23/06 Indrid Cold Not very good, but neither was SpiderMan, and everyone liked that for some reason. 3 stars
1/29/06 Quigley This movie is so, so bad. it makes the hulk look like a movie worth watching. 1 stars
1/08/06 Jim Not as bad as I expected. Is that praise? 3 stars
1/03/06 AM It sucked! I'm so glad I'm not American. I was a little ambivalent about the comics, but 1 stars
12/30/05 tony BORING!! Why was this movie made? Marvel comics is going down the drain 1 stars
12/24/05 The Grinch Chiklis and McMahon are good, Ian's wasted, Alba can't act, enternaing enough I guess 3 stars
12/08/05 tatum Christ, Stan Lee, sell the rights to your grocery list, too 3 stars
12/05/05 WSH One of the worst movies ever made! 1 stars
11/30/05 Jeff Anderson The worst superhero film to date & I've SEEN Albert Pyun's boring as hell CAPTAIN AMERICA!! 1 stars
11/29/05 Ming Jessica Alba and the spectacular visual effects save this from being a disaster. 3 stars
11/24/05 Angela Renee Garrett I totaly agree with you Mel 1 stars
11/10/05 Erik Van Sant Took a Fantastic concept and shit all over it. Avoid like the plague. 1 stars
11/09/05 Stan L good efx, but not much of story, rent Xmen1or2, Batman, or Spiderman 1or2 instead 2 stars
11/06/05 Angela Garrett I totally agree with Mel Valetine ON Fantastic Four 2 stars
11/01/05 PAG OK, decent film. 3 stars
10/27/05 deadwiz Should and could have been so much better! 3 stars
10/27/05 chris a very poor film indeed a waste of my time and money at the cinema 1 stars
10/12/05 Quigley if it had made like batman begins it would havce rocked, but story didn't watch Incredibles 1 stars
9/20/05 alexander somarriba okay 4 stars
9/19/05 Jonathon Holmes Tim Story should watch "Batman Begins" and hang his head in shame 1 stars
8/18/05 green gremlin Rent the "Xmen" DVD instead !!! 1 stars
8/15/05 .:*paris*:. i was expecting something fantastic but quite dissapointed,but certainly entertaining and f 4 stars
8/11/05 Rob S. Why didn't they follow the original story? Victor Von Doom was not a rich businessman. 2 stars
8/11/05 ES Story should have watched the incredibles and then went back to the drawing board on this 3 stars
8/09/05 jada so bad my 10yr old asked to leave, which i gladly agreed 1 stars
8/07/05 Aaron McGraw Poor camera work, they spent more time fighting one another than the mediocre badguy. 3 stars
8/03/05 Brandy Harrington The only comic book movie that is worse than this crap, is Batman & Robin. 1 stars
8/03/05 Quigley Not engaging like spider-man, and mostly not funny. watch something else, please 3 stars
8/03/05 Clatz Absolute pants 1 stars
8/01/05 Helen Greatest Comic book brought onto the big screen. 5 stars
7/30/05 Anders Torp Maybe even a worse disaster than "The Hulk" (if that's possible). 1 stars
7/30/05 PK Chris Evans is on fire! If he'd keep his shirt off the whole movie, I'd give more stars. 3 stars
7/29/05 Moctezuma More of a monstrosity than an actual film 1 stars
7/25/05 M i just wasted 2 hrs of my life!!!! 1 stars
7/24/05 Snakeboy Lots of gaps in the story but still fun 4 stars
7/23/05 Duffyboy666 SHIT! 1 stars
7/22/05 Quigley good special effects cannot save this movie. it had potential and it failed 3 stars
7/21/05 William Vollmer not bad; not great between xmen & Hulk 3 stars
7/21/05 leta Marshall I loved it ! 5 stars
7/19/05 FFlovr u critic hacks! this movie is ure gold, this instantly became my favorite movie 5 stars
7/19/05 Brandy Harrington Damn, this was worse than HULK. 1 stars
7/19/05 fernando thisw movie is bull shit and fuking movie 1 stars
7/18/05 Dave It could've been better, but it had enough fun moments. 4 stars
7/18/05 Matt Thiel Much better than Catwoman. If you want to see F4, do NOT pay to see it!!! 2 stars
7/17/05 John Bell Sometimes we have to set our high sensiblities aside as ask ourselves: did I enjoy the film 4 stars
7/15/05 tony What a rip off. I should have rented Speed 2. At least i would have enjoyed that. 1 stars
7/15/05 B.E. Total garbage. 1 stars
7/14/05 Anus FANTASTIC BORE! Too much whiny drama, not enough action 2 stars
7/13/05 DK i don't pay to hear slogans from bad refund of ticket. 1 stars
7/13/05 Tim O! I actually liked the film. I like the friend/family story line. 4 stars
7/13/05 C.E. Can comic book movies get any worse? 1 stars
7/13/05 Peter Griffin There's no reason for a superhero movie to be this lousy. 1 stars
7/12/05 Ole Man Bourbon Pretty bad, but I've seen worse 3 stars
7/12/05 Jorge Lizarazo Good movie, brings the F4 to life. 4 stars
7/12/05 Robin Lent Fantastic Four is far better than the reviews by maintream media 4 stars
7/11/05 Uncle Salty How about... Duuuuuuuuuuuuuh! 1 stars
7/11/05 KELLEN MATHERS Not enough action, unless you count setting up a sequel 2 stars
7/11/05 8=====D shitty just like the comic 1 stars
7/11/05 Peteca It's great dude!~5 origins in one! You can't ask for more! Go see it!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
7/11/05 Naka Sucked ass. 1 stars
7/11/05 Burt Ward It's okay, you should see Batman Begins instead though 3 stars
7/11/05 FFFan Holy Crap, not horrible, but not quite mediocre either 2 stars
7/10/05 Lord Jiggy It doesn't cure cancer...not bad for light fun.. Lame story, decent work on characters 4 stars
7/10/05 Dustin Low expectations though made for more enjoyment. Seriously, it wasn't that bad. 4 stars
7/10/05 Charlene Javier It's not as bad as it sounds. 3 stars
7/10/05 Brian chiklis shouldn't be wasting his time on this crap... 1 stars
7/09/05 Dan I don't know what movie you all watched. This was better than Spiderman. 5 stars
7/09/05 RoyAgain The End of the Marvel Era 2 stars
7/09/05 Derek I love my 1985 buick better than this movie!!!! 1 stars
7/09/05 Genericus I really liked it! All these reviews are anti-hype 5 stars
7/09/05 Moctezuma Fantastic Flop 2 stars
7/09/05 BrianWilly I actually really liked it. People need to stop being such snobs. 5 stars
7/09/05 Johnnybgoode Humorous. I found it a welcome relief from this year's consistently dark, tragic fare. 4 stars
7/09/05 Kristina Williams straight up doodoo 1 stars
7/09/05 malcolm better than i expected. alba's gorgeous but should really work on her acting skills. 3 stars
7/08/05 Ray Anyone could see this coming. 1 stars
7/08/05 Sugarfoot All of a sudden Roger Corman doesn't look to bad now. 1 stars
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  08-Jul-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 05-Jun-2007



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