Fantastic Four (2005)

(In theaters, July 2005) Well, that was bland. The nice thing about good superhero movies is that they make it easier to point at the bad ones and say “this is not how it should be done!” And so, Fantastic Four is not how it should be done: By-the-number script, languid pacing and pedestrian special effects. Well, actually the script is closer to “bad” than simply “by-the-numbers” (the Ben Grimm romantic subplot alone is worth a howl), but let’s be generous. As an origin story, it’s too long, and doesn’t contain enough stuff. There are two-and-a-half action sequences in the story (one of which being a disaster created by the Fantastic Fours themselves, in an eerie echo of the much-better The Incredibles) and that, too, is not enough. Casting-wise, Jessica Alba simply doesn’t measure up as “The Invisible Woman”, although her lack of impact as a character supposed to be shy-and-effacing may have more to do with the script than acting talent. The rest of the cast does better, although the main villain is simply yawn-inducing. Perhaps the best sequences of the film are those in which Johnny Storm expresses his sheer joy at his new-found abilities; the rest is just dour and featureless. This film won’t even be worth a passing trivia questions five years from now.

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