Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Fantastic Four

OK, I admit I've always been a closet Fantastic Four fan. Before Stan Lee created the better known Spider-man, Hulk, X-Men, he created Fantastic Four, touted as the World's Greatest Comics Magazine, back in the 60s. Reed Richards is Mr Fantastic, Sue Storm/Richards is The Invisible Girl, her brother Johnny Storm is The Human Torch, and Richard's best friend / one time Sue's ex is Ben Grimm, aka The Thing.

This is not the first time that the origin has been recreated in film (the first one being a desperate attempt to secure movie rights, and is a tacky B-production), but this is the version that's done so right.

And I dare say this is the BEST Marvel comic book adaptation ever, staying very true to its characterization just as Stan Lee envisioned it to be. Classic touches include the bickering amongst the characters and of course the very cliche (perhaps FF popularized it?) basic plot of cooperation and teaming is stronger than the individual. The spot-on rivalry between Johnny and Ben, the use of their powers on one another (always liked it when Richards overpower Ben), and the costumes themselves serve a purpose, highlighting the Invisible Girl's curves... oops, I mean the suits being exposed to the same radiation and adapting the same properties as its wearer, and Ben's fedora and brown trenchcoat looked so in place.

I could go on, like Richard's vow to Ben to help his tragic friend (and themselves) reverse the effects on their DNA, his overworking in their penthouse headquarters of the Baxter Building, the rejection of The Thing's appearance by the public, Johnny's impulsiveness and crave for popularity, and Sue's peacemaker role amongst the boys. What I also liked is that this film takes its time to develop their arch-nemesis Victor Von Doom, as his transformation takes place throughout the movie until the finale.

Compared to Spider-man, there isn't a sappy romance to slow things down (and Mary J Watson was never Peter Parker's first!), nor are there too many heroes and villains like X-Men such that each character has limited screen time because of the focus on its most popular character Wolverine. In this film, each character has their own adequate share of the limelight, though I must mention that the Human Torch outshone the rest in set action pieces, while The Thing stole the show with humour. The film doesn't seem too long (about the same duration as the original X-Men), but it manages to pack all the action, emotion, backstory nicely as one summer flick.

Kudos to the casting team in bringing together actors who look the role too. Although 3 out of 5 stars are more goggle box actors (Alba, McMahon, Chilklis), they sure looked comfortable in their outing on the big screen.

If two's a company, and three's a crowd, then Four's just FANtastic! Looking at box office numbers, I don't think it'll outdo Spider-man, but I'm still game for a sequel - they can bring on Galactus for all I care! Look out for the cameo appearance of Stan Lee, whom you always expect in a Marvel adaptation that meets expectations!

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