Fantastic Four (2005)

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

Directed by: Tim Story

Rating: 1 2 3 and a half

Recently, superheroes have become a dour bunch. Poor old Spider-Man, the heavy responsibility of great power weighing him down like a ton of bricks. Brooding Batman, seriously disturbed by childhood trauma. Even the X-Men's Wolverine is a bit of a lost and tortured soul.

Jessica Alba as the Invisible Girl Michael Chiklis as The Thing

But now we have the Fantastic Four. Not for this light-hearted bunch of mutants the angsty soul searching of Peter Parker or stormy moods of Bruce Wayne. 'Am I the only one who thinks this is cool?' asks Johnny 'Human Torch' Storm (Chris Evans - not the ginger whinger DJ though) as he clicks his fingers like a zippo lighter.

Ioan  Gruffudd as Mr Fantastic Chris Evans as the Human Torch

Well, certainly ultimate egghead Reed 'Mr Fantastic' Richards (Welsh wonder Ioan Gruffudd) seems to find his Mr Tickle rubber arms a bit of a gift (especially when he's run out of bog roll) and there are definite advantages to being invisible as the pneumatic Sue 'Invisible Girl' Storm (Jessica Alba) discovers - although rematerialising naked in a crowd isn't one of them. Only rock hard Ben 'The Thing' Grimm (Michael Chiklis) seems less than enamoured of his new golem like look (cue much comedy as he smashes glasses and collapses bar stools - he's is by a country mile the coolest character) although the ol' Toxic Avenger 'pulling a blind girl' trick soon changes his mind on that score.

Yup, for our four freaky adventurers, getting your DNA fundamentally altered in a freak cosmic storm in outer space is all just a bit of a blast, really.

Even villain Victor Von Doom doesn't pose much of a threat to our heroes. Played surprisingly but effectively by Nip/Tuck's ex Mr Danni Minogue, Julian McMahon (Gary Oldman and Willem Dafoe must have been busy), he's having such a ball with his new superpowers, poncing around in what looks like a black hooded dressing gown, killing off people who've been mean to him, he completely forgets to make any attempt to Take Over The World. Oops.

The plot is thin as paper and about as plausible as the Toxic Avenger getting the girl; the script is pedestrian in the extreme (although refreshingly free of any too cringeably obvious one liners); the acting isn't exactly Oscar® worthy and the special effects are not very special. But likeable characters, plenty of laughs and a brisk pace that never allows you to get bored make Fantastic Four the refreshing lite alternative to serious superhero movies. So check your brain in at the door and enjoy, because for daft, entertaining, escapist fun, the Fantastic Four are an unbeatable team.

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