Fantastic Four - How to make a super-hero movie

20th Century Fox
Duration: 105min
Category: action
Available: On DVD
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With the release of films such as the X-Men movies, the Spider-Man films and the recent Batman Begins, one would figure that Hollywood has finally understood how to make a good comic book, super-hero adaptation.

However, for each of the above films there is also an example of how not to do it. The Punisher is probably the best example. So what is the formula? And does The Fantastic Four have it? Well, mostly… no.

The secret to a good comic book, super-hero adaptation is treating the source material with respect. One has to get over the innate ridiculousness of men who can fly, women who can change the weather and billionaires that dress up in skin tight rodent costumes and understand the themes that lie underneath. There is a reason these graphic novels have survived for so long and entertained millions for generations. Tap into that.

R. E. S. P. E. C. T. Sam Raimi had it for his work on the webslinger. Now Chris Nolan has it for the Bat. Richard Donner had it when he taught us how to do it right in the original Superman. Hopefully Bryan Singer shows the same respect for that icon as he did for Marvel's greatest team. R. E. S. P. E. C. T.

First of all you respect your characters by not treating their stories as one-dimensional. Although I am not a fan of the Fantastic Four and know little about their background, I could tell there were some interesting issues about the real nature of family and the ambiguity of morality. The movie's script treats these issues as if this was an after school special.

Then you cast actors who can handle the roles. Jessica Alba may be pretty in a WWE-babe-holding-sign sort of way and Chris Evans is hot in a last-year's-boy-band mode but Alba's acting leaves a lot to be desired and Evans didn't come into his own until he played another Marvel hero. Each is good here for their all too brief naked scenes but the rest of the time we'd prefer them to get off the screen.

One of the most important aspects of a good super-hero flick is the villain. I've read that Dr. Doom is considered to be one of the best comic book villains of all time but the movie and Julian McMahon play him for a scenery chewing buffoon. Look at the masterful work of Jack Nicholson in Batman, Gene Hackman in Superman and Ian McKellen in X-Men if you want to see how it should be done.

Finally, you want to spend the money on the effects. We are supposed to believe that these people have fantastic powers. Make us believe it. Don't cheep out. These effects are average at best. I've seen this level of work on TV.

Fantastic Four isn't a bad movie; it's just not that good. It's average, forgettable. I imagine the fans of the comic were hoping for something a little more... well, fantastic. Skip this and rent The Incredibles. Pixar did the super-hero family right.

R. E. S. P. E. C. T. If you aren't going to give it to your material don't make the movie in the first place.

Review By: Collin Smith

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