THE FANTASTIC FOUR succeeds in ways the Neo-DC Comics executives will never understand. In particular, as you might have guessed, I'm comparing this movie to Batman Begins, which was a severe, heartbreaking letdown. While Christopher Nolan chose to shroud Batman in darkness, FANTASTIC FOUR dances in vivid pastels. While Batman markets to those of us who've grown up too fast, FANTASTIC FOUR instead markets to the kid in all of us.
I don't know why, but I get a kick out of seeing the Fantastic Four on-screen. I attribute this childish exuberance to having never once seen an animated episode of Hannah-Barbara's Fantastic Four :(
Basically, super-heroes are not tough to do. The name of the game is simplify, don't over complicate, and FANTASTIC FOUR dishes out exactly what we kids are looking for. All we really want to see is Mr. Fantastic, the THING, the Invisible Woman, and the Human Torch standing proud in the flesh, wearing the costumes we've grown to love. We want to see them flaunt their super powers ... a lot, and that's what they do in this movie. Batman Begins supposed that the audience wanted to see the background psychological trauma that shaped the infamous dark knight. That would have been nice if it had been done correctly and taken to the proper extremes, which "Begins" failed to do. But the kid in me also wanted to see Batman use little gadgets and drive the Batmobile like he did in the comic books. I don't care how cheesy the Batmobile looked, I want to see it! Gimme the cheese, full blast!
Thank heavens FANTASTIC FOUR did not focus on psychological trauma, or else it would have devoted 120 minutes to the strained relationship between Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman. That would have turned out to be a weird & twisted Sleepless in Seattle, wouldn't you say?
THE FANTASTIC FOUR gets the comic book feel just right, without being too Disney on one hand and without getting too boring and drawn out on the other. That's how the comics books operated back in the day. They portrayed the difficult themes of adult life but were rhythmic enough to keep you flipping the pages.
The movie is pretty short and fast paced, which considering the playful direction the production took, was a good thing. We are taken on a whirlwind tour of the accident that created the super team, given a light taste of their personal troubles with society, and zoomed through their battle against Doctor Doom. At the end you're left still feeling high-spirited with a couple minutes to sip a soda and reminisce about the good old comic book days with your blokes. I would highly recommend bringing kids to see this movie, more so than I would with any other super-hero movie of recent memory.
My only gripe with this movie was its portrayal of Doctor Doom. Okay, so he has these devastating electrical powers which I don't remember him having in the comic books, but that's not important. His voice is too highly pitched. Behind the mask he's a weaselly corporate executive, but if I did Doctor Doom, I'd have him older and more foreboding like Darth Vader. Perhaps James Earl Jones was too busy with Verison and the MARVEL casting team had no where to turn on a tight schedule.
Speaking of MARVEL, the great American comic giant has pushed quite a campaign recently wouldn't you say? I remember ten years ago when I heard rumors of an X-men movie, and of course the foremost question on my mind was, "Will Arnold Schwarzenegger play Colossus?" (He instead chose to do Mr. Freeze, which no doubt helped him greatly in his political campaign.) Well I'm glad to see that MARVEL finally sprinted to the big screen in recent years churning out:
1. The Hulk (my favorite)
2. Spiderman (lukewarm for Raimi), Spiderman 2 (pretty good)
3. X-men (not bad), X-men 2 (better than the first)
4. Daredevil (haven't seen)
5. Elektra (haven't seen)
Having been so pleased with THE FANTASTIC FOUR and betrayed by Christopher Nolan and DC Comics, the next question on my mind is, which MARVEL super hero should be next?
How about the BLOB?
"Nothing can stop the BLOB!"
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