What You Need To Know:
FANTASTIC FOUR captures much of the comic books’ flavor. It moves briskly and has the right paint-by-number plot points. There are some funny lines, but that said, it is a thin story. Johnny Storm cracks a lot of jokes that are sexual in nature, and Sue Storm appears in her underwear. What parents should be concerned about are the transmutations and the violence. This is not a movie for children under 13-years-old. It’s a disappointment the filmmakers didn’t take the time to make a more entertaining movie in this lackluster year.
(EvEv, HH, Ab, B, LL, VV, S, N, A, MM) Strong evolutionary humanist worldview with an anti-biblical statement that God hates one of the characters and another statement that God is a woman, all said in humor, and otherwise very humanist; some moral elements of good versus evil; 10 obscenities and four profanities; lots of action violence, with some that is too intense for children, especially putting a hole in a person’s body, freezing a person, and constant action violence with many fight scenes and lots of physical danger; kissing, lots of references to sex, lots of sexual jokes and innuendo, including one about the plastic Mr. Fantastic being able to assume any shape as another character counters that he’s “rather limp”; upper male nudity, female cleavage and woman in skimpy underwear; alcohol; no smoking; and, theft to get clothes, breaking and entering, destruction of property, breaking of contracts, and strong lawlessness.
FANTASTIC FOUR is a lightweight, action, comic book B-movie. It does not have the depth and breadth of SPIDER-MAN, but it is not as pedestrian as the HULK movie.
The story begins with Dr. Reed Richards, played in a rather wooden manner by Ioan Gruffudd, explaining to his old college rival Victor Von Doom how he wants to go to Von Doom’s space station so he can study the evolutionary effect of a cosmic storm. Richards believes that a cosmic storm caused man to evolve into homo sapiens and that another storm may solve man’s health and personal problems. Von Doom decides to go along with and go Richards, as well as Richards’ best friend Ben Grimm, Doom’s assistant and Richard’s former lover Sue Storm, and her hotheaded pilot-brother Johnny Storm. When they get to the space station, they find that the cosmic storm is upon them, and, of course, each one is mutated by the storm to become a very different type of person.
Richards becomes Mr. Fantastic, who can stretch in any direction and assume any shape. Sue Storm becomes invisible and has the power to control force fields. Johnny becomes the Human Torch, and seeks after fame and fortune, but mostly women. Ben becomes the rock-like Thing, which causes his wife to abandon him. Finally, Dr. Doom becomes the evil nemesis of them all.
After trying to figure out a way to reverse the cosmic storm’s process, and fighting among themselves all the time, they’re all faced with the growing megalomaniac Dr. Doom who is busy killing people in grotesque ways. Therefore, they have to unite to see if they can defeat this seemingly all-powerful evil genius.
In recreating the origins of the FANTASTIC FOUR, the movie captures much of the comic books’ flavor. It moves briskly and has the right paint-by-number plot points. There are some funny lines, but all of that said, it is a rather thin story. The characters aren’t anywhere near as well developed as those in the X-MEN movies – in fact, the main actors appear wooden and distanced from their characters and the audience, which, of course, is the director’s problem.
Johnny Storm cracks a lot of jokes that are sexual in nature, and parents may object to Sue Richards going invisible, taking off her clothes, and then reappearing unwillingly in skimpy underwear.
What parents should be concerned about, however, are the evolutionary transmutations and the violence. All of the studies on cognitive development theory and the influence of the mass media of entertainment indicate that younger children become deeply affected by the very things that are occurring in this movie. Therefore, please do not recommend this movie to children under 13.
That said, it seems like older children will want a better storyline. Since there is so little at the box office right now, FANTASTIC FOUR may eke out some money, but it probably will not be a memorable movie after its initial foray into the marketplace. Marvel can do better, 20th Century Fox can do better, and Stan Lee can do better, so it’s a disappointment that they didn’t take the time to make a more entertaining movie in this lackluster year.