Release Date:  July 8, 2005
Rating: PG-13 (sequences of intense action, and some suggestive content)
Genre:  Action/Sci Fi/Fantasy/Adventure
Run Time:  105 minutes
Director:  Tim Story
Actors:  Ioan Gruffudd, Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Julian McMahon, and Kerry Washington

In “Fantastic Four” an experimental space voyage goes awry, and four people are zapped by cosmic rays as they’re momentarily caught in a mysterious, unearthly, swirling, hyper-electrical dimension. After the accident, the handsome Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), inventor and group leader, finds that he suddenly has the ability to stretch his body. His former girlfriend, the gorgeous and brilliant Sue Storm (Jessica Alba), genetic researcher, gains the ability to turn invisible and create force fields. The skeptical pilot, Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), is terrified to find that he has become a powerful rock-like creature, and Sue’s cocky brother, Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) is thrilled to see that he can set himself on fire at will.

Reed, Sue, and Ben are sober about their new powers and barricade themselves in Reed’s lab to run tests, but Johnny is elated. He ventures out of the laboratory to speak with the media, confirming their suspicions and announcing that their new names are Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, The Thing, and The Human Torch. The city goes wild with interest, but Ben’s girlfriend is not amused that she’s now engaged to a creature, and she wants to call off the engagement.

Tired of waiting on the cure from science, the depressed Ben takes a walk and ends up sitting on the ledge of a busy city bridge. He sees a man about to jump off the bridge and tries to talk him out of the suicide. Instead, however, he scares the man, and a wild chain of events ensues, including multiple car crashes and fire trucks dangling over bridges. Miraculously, the other members of the team show up – just in the nick of time to save the day.

Not all is well in Gotham City, however … (Oops, wrong movie!).  It turns out that the financier of the spoiled space voyage, the evil Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon), is furious that his stock is spiraling downward and that the media attention on the newly-empowered scientists is wreaking havoc on his image and profits. To complicate matters, Dr. Doom soon finds that he is changing as well. A scar on his face is turning silver, as are the veins in his arms.  As he transforms, he finds he has deathly ability to destroy everything in his path. This new power fits in nicely with his grudges of the past, and he sets about to destroy the banks that turned him down, the stockholders that left him, and the “Fantastic Four” team that won’t bow to his every wish.

His hatred is inflamed even more when he realizes that there is still romantic chemistry between Reed and Sue. It was he – the powerful science and business mogul – that was supposed to win Sue’s heart, not the insolvent and unassuming Reed. He vows to get Sue back and to take vengeance on all his offenders.

His plans are sure to succeed, it appears, in that the “Fantastic Four” can’t seem to find their teamwork spirit. They’re all caught up in their individual angst, immaturity, fear, or distractions.  When it looks like there’s a sudden way to get back to “normal,” they must all make some hard choices. Are they willing to accept the responsibility that comes with great gifting, or should they leave that to others and go back to their lives?

“Fantastic Four” is a fun, campy science fiction flick that not only entertains, but also asks some good questions. The various newly transformed scientists ask questions like, “What if (these powers) are for a higher calling?” “The Thing” comments, “If there is a God, he hates me,” to which a new friend replies, “SHE is not so into hate.”

One problem with the worldview is that there is something about this movie that leaves you unsettled, even at the end. At our post-movie coffee afterwards, my friend and I concluded that it was this:  The scientists got their power not from a loving Creator who had a divine purpose for them, but from a random, freak accident. And when the “Fantastic Four” did prevail, the glory and accolades seemed to fall short when it was just about them, and not about honoring a supreme ruler or advancing a Kingdom in power and divine order.

Taking the story at face value, however, the movie is a fine summer film for families – full of adventure and tons of stellar special effects. Because the violence is over the top at points (one guy gets a hole blown through his upper torso), parents will want to exercise caution when considering the movie for children under thirteen.

AUDIENCE:  Teenagers and adults

OBJECTIONABLE CONTENT:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Bar scenes with depictions of alcohol
  • Language/Profanity:  One or two light obscenities
  • Sex/Nudity:  None, but some depictions of suggestive clothing and possible intentions.
  • Violence:  Excessive, with gun and fistfights, car crashes, heat-seeking missiles, electrical zapping, etc.