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In this Marvel Comic adaption, four astronauts get bombarded with cosmic rays when an accident occurs. The four of them acquire special powers, and decide to form a superhero group called the Fantastic Four. They then fight their arch-enemy Dr. Doom. Written by
Paul Zenisek <email@example.com>
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When HULK hit theaters in 2003, it wasn't long before DVDs of the old Incredible Hulk TV show popped up in an attempt to cash in on the craze. We saw a similar occurrence a year prior when Spider-Man cartoons appeared on DVD to coincide with that hero's big screen debut. Companies leap at the opportunity to ride on the financial coattails of a hot brand.
So the fact that this picture never surfaced on the shelves of Wal-Mart as its featured heroes clobbered the box office in the summer of 2005 says a lot. I guess everyone involved would just rather forget. To be fair, THE FANTASTIC FOUR is not as bad as everyone says. Let me rephrase that. It's not as unentertaining as all of its negative reviews might suggest.
Veteran television actor Alex Hyde-White (no, you don't remember any of his roles) leads the way as Reed Richards, the brilliant scientist who, along with his crew, gains bizarre powers after an outer space mishap. He's left with the ability to stretch and contort his body to outrageous lengths. His future wife, Sue Storm (Rebecca Staab), can suddenly turn invisible, while her brother, Johnny (Jay Underwood), may now ignite himself at will. Then there's poor Ben Grimm (Michael Bailey Smith), the lovable lug whose body morphs into a mass of craggy, orange rock.
Just as the friends are becoming accustomed to all of this, they are called upon to rescue the world from certain chaos. It seems Reed's old colleague Victor von Doom (Joseph Culp) is living up to his name, and that villainous Jeweler (Ian Trigger) isn't exactly helping old ladies cross the street, either. Can our heroes save the day? Of course they can; like any superhero movie, it's just a question of how and when.
What's striking about THE FANTASTIC FOUR is how amateurish it is in virtually every aspect. The dialog is so lame and tired it sounds like it was written by a junior high drama class. The acting is so unpolished it makes a third-rate afternoon soap opera look like Shakespeare. The special effects are surprisingly good considering the minuscule budget, but there are still some positively embarrassing moments. When The Human Torch fully ignites his body, for instance, the entire movie briefly turns into a cartoon. I can just hear that production meeting. "Oh, no one will notice. They'll be too intrigued by the action!" I mean really, a cartoon? At least give me a mannequin on fire held up by a string! Prior to that, the scene in which the foursome come to on earth after their spaceship crashes is pure teens-in-the-backyard fare. The crew simply found a field and lit a vaguely-spaceship-like object on fire. That's the only remnant of such a major disaster?
Of course there wasn't a whole lot to work with in the script. There is a fairly coherent story here, but it's all so simplified. When Reed and Ben decide to go into outer space, they simply drop by the Storms' house and ask if they'd care to join them. Is it really that easy? Don't these sort of things require, oh, I don't know, years of training and expertise? Not in the world of these writers, who seemed to be inspired by the underrated genius on display in FULL HOUSE reruns. But as bad as that may be, nothing can compare to how painfully clichéd Dr. Doom is. He was pulled right out of those awful superhero cartoons from the 1960s, right down to the evil laugh and slamming his clenched fist down on the table to punctuate his remarks. No comic book, least of all Fantastic Four, has ever featured a villain so obscenely one dimensional.
Ultimately, THE FANTASTIC FOUR is saved from being a complete turkey because it's just so damn innocent. You can tell the people involved, as little talent or experience as they had, really tried. They didn't know the final result would be so embarrassing. They were under the impression that this was their big break, that people would flock to the theaters. It bears repeating that they had virtually no money to work with (and I'm sure half of that was eaten up by the cool Thing costume). All things considered, they did well, and for its many flaws, the finished product is a fair amount of fun for comic book fans.
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