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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 EricDSnider

"'Four' isn't so fantastic when it's on a scale of 1 to 10..."
2 stars

What a mess "Fantastic Four" is. Everything about it bears the stench of amateurs, from the unspectacular special effects to the sitcom-lame dialogue to the butchered storyline. Hard to believe that in one 15-month period we have endured "The Punisher," "Elektra," "Catwoman" AND "Fantastic Four," the four very worst comic book adaptations, all lined up. We deserve medals, you and I.

Most of this film, directed by Tim Story -- whose experience with the lightweight comedies "Barbershop" and "Taxi" somehow failed to prepare him for a big-budget superhero adventure -- has a tone to it that is utterly wrong. It's too silly to be taken seriously, but not silly enough to be funny. It feels inconsequential, weightless even, like nothing that happens really matters.

This is exactly the opposite of how a superhero movie should feel, of course. You want the audience to be afraid when the hero is in peril and cheer when he prevails. I just kept looking at my watch.

It's an origin story, obviously meant to presage further adventures in the hopes that sequels would be forthcoming. (I suspect they shan't be.) Scientist and inventor Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) wants to do research on solar winds for the purpose of curing diseases, or some kind of crap like that, so he secures funding from business tycoon Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon), his old MIT classmate and romantic rival, and a space mission is planned.

Victor's head of research and current girlfriend (and Reed's ex) is the beautiful, allegedly brilliant Susan Storm (Jessica Alba), so she has to go into space with them, and so does her brother, the hot-headed NASA drop-out Johnny Storm (Chris Evans), because he's Victor's spaceship pilot. Reed insists on bringing HIS pilot, Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), and so now there are five. Of course, I don't know why Victor is going at all, since he's not planning to do any actual work. Just likes going into space, I guess.

Anyway, in space there's trouble and they all get blasted with some kind of special effect, and when they get back to Earth they have superpowers. Because Fate has a sense of humor, their powers relate to their personalities. Fast-living Johnny now has the ability to be on fire, Susan the overlooked brainiac (what? really?) can turn invisible, over-worked Reed can stretch his body into infinite shapes and sizes, and the stubborn, immovable Ben is now made of rocks. Oh, and Victor has some kind of electromagnetic thing going on, and he's slowly turning into pure steel -- which of course is cold and dead like his heart.

The film has been awkward to this point, with weak, junky dialogue (by Mark Frost and "Punisher" screenwriter Michael France) and far too much emphasis on the Victor/Susan/Reed triangle. But when the Four's powers manifest themselves, that's when things really fall into the crapper.

First, Ben starts to turn into nothing but rocks, and as soon as he does -- like, the very MINUTE it happens -- he doesn't talk to his scientist friends to see what's up, he doesn't stop and reflect, he doesn't even scream and cry. Instead, he breaks through a wall and goes lumbering into the night, somehow gets from Switzerland (where the hospital is) back to New York City -- what, on a plane, when he's made of rocks? -- to his apartment, where he tries to call his wife from the pay phone outside, but his giant stone fingers are too big, just like the time Homer Simpson got super-fat and the telephone voice told him, "The fingers you have used to dial are too fat. To obtain a special dialing wand, please mash the keypad with your palm now." I totally love that episode. But anyway, finally Ben's wife comes outside in her nightie, and she is so repulsed by him that she flees, which I guess I can understand, but you're not exactly a box of chocolates yourself there, sweetie.

The next day, Ben causes a major car wreck on a bridge, endangering the lives of many innocent people. His superpowered friends arrive just in time to help him save the day, fortunately. And his wife shows up, too, despite traffic being completely stopped on the bridge, just so she can give her wedding ring back to him. And all the news crews are there, too, again despite traffic being stopped and despite the entire event transpiring over the course of only a few minutes.

Immediately after this, the Four go into seclusion so Reed can figure out how to reverse the damage done by the special effects on the spaceship. Johnny doesn't want his powers reversed, though; he digs being on fire, and he's learning to fly, too. So there is a lot of bickering and in-fighting among them. When they do appear in public again, they find that, even though they've done no interviews and have made contact with no one since the bridge incident, they are all somehow household names and are recognized by people on the street. There's even a marketing department, somehow, that has made a prototype of a Ben Grimm action figure. All of this based on one incident that none of them have talked about publicly since it happened.

Meanwhile, Victor is mad at the Four and wants to kill them. This is by default, really; he has no real reason for wanting them dead, but the movie needs him to want them dead, so he does. He tries to turn them against each other -- which isn't hard, given the tension that already runs among them -- and plots their individual demises.

That angle is the film's ultimate undoing. Victor doesn't want to rule the world or murder civilians or destroy national landmarks; he just wants to kill the Fantastic Four. Not only is this an awfully low-stakes goal for a comic-book villain, but it means the Four's stopping him isn't even heroic. Thwarting the bad guy because he was going to kill you? Good for you, but so what? Not exactly the work of a superhero, saving your own life. I've managed not to be murdered by anyone so far, too, and no one's making an action figure out of me.

In the comic books, I guess Victor Von Doom is from a fictional country called Latveria. The way the movie tells us this is that, halfway through, an embittered business colleague tells him, "Maybe you should go back to Latveria." And we're like, "What? What's 'Latveria'? Is that a country? Is he from there? Why doesn't he have a Latverian accent, then? How did he get into MIT? Student visa?"

Later, when his face starts to become too metallic to be pretty anymore, Victor puts on a steel mask that was given to him by the people of Latveria as a thank-you present for something. It is frightening and monstrous, this mask, and cannot possibly have any native cultural significance, unless Latveria is a nation of robots. But hey, in the comic books Dr. Doom wears a metal mask, so I guess he'd better get one somehow.

This is the kind of movie where a computerized voice tells you obvious things. Like when they're on the spaceship, someone opens the viewing station shield, and as the viewing station shield opens, a voice says, "Opening viewing station shield." Oh, really? Thanks, computer voice. I went blind for a minute there and didn't see the viewing station shield opening.

The best movies make even the most extraordinary fantasies seem possible, and there is always an internal logic to them. The tagline for the original "Superman," after all, was, "You'll believe a man can fly." That was the movie's selling point: that Superman seemed real. Believability is the great strength of "Batman Begins," too, and of course the "Spider-Man" films excelled at making Peter Parker a normal human being who behaved the way a normal person would behave if he were suddenly given remarkable powers.

"Fantastic Four" shows people who were two-dimensional to begin with behaving unrealistically when given ridiculous superpowers. Not a minute of it feels natural. As with many bad movies, it's a matter of plausible vs. possible. It's not just that would happens in this movie could never happen in real life. It's that if it DID happen, the people wouldn't react the way they do here.

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originally posted: 07/08/05 16:15:47
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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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