June 18, 2007 - I feel like I need to say something right from the start, and that is comic book fans, myself included, should learn to take Hollywood movies with a grain of salt. This does not mean that we should stand idly by and watch them destroy something that we have grown to appreciate over many years of servitude to these characters. Servitude might be a harsh word, but in some cases it might be true. Instead of bashing Hollywood for getting this wrong or taking a character completely out of context, we should be thankful that our favorite "funny books" are being turned into actual embodiments for us to show the future generations, as they are adamantly opposed to reading for years to get the back-story for these characters.
With that said, I feel that the first Fantastic Four movie did exactly what it set out to do. It provided an amazing depiction of the first family in Marvel comics. The sequel, Rise of the Silver Surfer, further proved that what they did in the first was not atrocious towards the characters. Instead, it allowed the casual audiences to view why the Fantastic Four have survived for as long as they have. Do not get me wrong, there were problems with the first, most notably what they did to Dr. Doom. Thankfully, they did attempt to rectify what they did in the sequel.
There is not a moviegoer or fan that will tell they nailed Doom the first time around. I will say that they did not completely nail him this time around but they did at least try to fix what they did. With great advancements, I must add. I can even forgive the less than explanatory reasons for Doom's return, but again I have to remember that it is about the comic. Therefore, nearly everything is forgivable. It actually makes me anxious to see what they do with Doom the next time around, mainly because for the comic astute, you could see the molding being broken away from the first. However, this movie was not called Dr. Doom, although that could be interesting. It is about the Fantastic Four, and if the cosmic ray induced family is not portrayed correctly then it would not work.
While not everything was spot on with current storylines for the characters in the comics, they have beautifully captured and grown into the characters more. Ben is Ben, Johnny is Johnny, Sue is for the most part Sue (more on that in a minute) and probably in my opinion the most accurate representation of Reed Richards I have ever seen, even in current comics. The family dynamic is even more present this time around. They bicker, they argue, and of course, they attempt to save the world. That is part of the beauty of the comic and they have done this rather well. My problem with Sue is the fact that it is Jessica Alba. In my opinion, she just could not figure out which Sue she was trying to play. This could be the fault of the director and screenwriters, but Alba clearly is the one Hollywood was banking on to bring the crowds. The wig was awful and the horrid blue contacts made it clear to me that Alba may not have been the best choice for the role.
Thankfully, we have the rest of the cast to accurately portray the characters and they did perfect. Michael Chiklis shows why comic fans both feel for and root for Ben Grimm. Chris Evans provides the comedic slapstick of Jonny Storm to a capital T once more. Ioan Gruffud in my opinion is the only one I can see playing Reed Richards. There is a moment in the film that audiences will actually see Reed's character grow a rubbery backbone and comic fans will love it. Each actor has grown comfortably into the role of the characters nicely, and you will actually feel the bond of a family exude from each of them during different parts of the film.
While we are on the subject of things that worked in the film, we cannot continue until I make mention of Silver Surfer. Whoever thought of the idea to get actor Doug Jones to portray the Surfer and have Lawrence Fishburne provide the voice of the Surfer was a genius. The idea worked so well that I dare anyone to look upon the Surfer and not think that he leapt straight from the panels and onto screen. They briefly touched upon Norrin's history and gave the audience enough to feel for him, but did not give too much away. Surely, with the success of the Surfer we can expect an installment with him going solo. You cannot even find a Silver Surfer toy which should clue most to his level of popularity.