Fantastic Four

Rating 3½

Directed by Tim Story

Written by Mark Frost and Michael France, based on the Marvel comic books written by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis and Julian McMahon

I rented this film on a whim. I have no interest in comic books and the genre simply leaves one massive gap or black hole in my thinking. Equally, I have minimal interest in films based on comic book superheroes, although I have somehow ended up watching quite a few – and even enjoying one or two of them.

One of the advantages of having no interest in comic books is that I can approach a film like ‘Fantastic Four’ with no particular pre-conceived ideas about how the characters should be portrayed, how they should look, what the film should look like, how the story should be told, etc. None of that can be a disappointment to me because I don’t know from squat.

I recently watched ‘Hellboy’ when it was shown on television and I was quite taken by its sardonic wit. I am not trying to compare ‘Fantastic Four’ to that film, but once again, I was quite taken by the humour. The story struck me as being typical of the genre, superpowers thrust upon a group of people in extraordinary circumstances, angst about what has happened and alienation from society, the fight between good and evil, but it was all dealt with nicely, not too slow and not too frenetic. The acting is fine and I rather like Michael Chiklas in the role of Ben Grimm / The Thing.

My only prior knowledge of Jessica Alba’s work was the TV show ‘Dark Angel’, which I watched a few times, but never really took to. I didn’t think she displayed any special talent as an actor. It’s the same here. Her main attribute is that she is an obviously very attractive young woman. It’s not a criticism. I don’t find her dislikeable by any means and she certainly isn’t a ‘bad’ actor, unlike, say, Elizabeth Hurley, who seems to me to be entirely bereft of any acting ability whatsoever. Alba’s performance is decent enough and does not in any way take away from the film.

Mark Frost, one of the writers, was the co-creator of ‘Twin Peaks’ with David Lynch and wrote five episodes of that groundbreaking show.

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