In development long before the resurgence in successful comic film properties, Fantastic Four finally limped to the screen in 2005 with an underwhelming pic that's anything but fantastic. Third-rate comedic director Tim Story lazily translates the material to yawning results in a flick filled with TV actors, cheap special effects, and a margarine script that's light on entertaining calories and high on the bland taste. While it isn't the worst comic-to-screen adaptation of its time -- that title is still shared by Daredevil and Catwoman -- Four gets a foul card simply for taking the low road time and again. The movie plays more like a swift Cliffs Notes version of the origin story, except with crucial changes to the character's mythos that end up not helping the film, but rendering it impotent. Dr. Doom has been made into a vain suit by the eye-browed wonder Julian McMahon, while Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) is a bland bore of a scientist who shares the same awkward accent-hiding moments as his arch foe. As far as the rest of the team goes, the listless Jessica Alba is simply there to show some skin and pack horny males into the seats, while Michael Chiklis tries his best as The Thing but ends up under-emoting in foamy makeup and cotton-mouthed dubbing. Chris Evans is a bit of a saving grace as The Human Torch, who's easily given the best material and brings the most out of his performance -- even if his big "flame on" scene worked better in the trailer than in the final film (the result of a poor musical mix). If a more dynamic director had tackled the project (everyone from Chris Columbus to Peyton Reed was attached at one point) or if the studio had taken more care with the script to deliver the right version instead of the cheapest, this project might have worked. As it is now, Fantastic Four is entertaining in the barest sense of the word, which might actually work for brain-boiled summer moviegoers, but will inevitably stand as a disappointing start for the Marvel Comics franchise.
by Jeremy Wheeler review