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|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Tim Story|
scr Mark Frost, Michael France
with Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Hamish Linklater, Kerry Washington, Laurie Holden, David Parker, Kevin McNulty, Maria Menounos, Andrew Airlie
release US 8.Jul.05, UK 22.Jul.05
05/US Fox 1h46
Make crime history: Alba, Gruffudd, Chiklis and Evans
There's so much potential in this comic book that it came as a serious shock when Tim Story was named as director; after making an OK comedy (Barbershop) and a truly awful action romp (Taxi), he's handed the archetypal Marvel Comics movie? Alas, there's no surprise: Despite a good cast, this is a badly made film that only barely works as brainless filler.
Reed Richards (Gruffudd) is a scientist who needs the help of rich businessman Victor Von Doom (McMahon) to launch a study trip in space with his sidekick (Chiklis). Von Doom adds his own assistant, Reed's ex (Alba), to the team, as well as her cocky brother (Evans). Then a freak space storm changes their DNA, creating four superheroes (earth, wind, fire and, erm, rubber) and a super-villain (electricity), who square off for control of the city. Or something.
You don't expect credibility from this kind of movie, but this script, which feels patched together from various drafts, doesn't even try to be coherent or logical. Or to touch on any themes in the story. It feels like it was written and directed by and for 10-year-olds. The direction is haphazard and lacklustre; the film is only watchable because the cast visibly strains to add charm whenever they can, despite the corny dialog. Only Chiklis succeeds in creating a believable character; Gruffudd is blandly handsome, Alba is annoyingly lovelorn and Evans is mere eye candy. McMahon is interesting until the script turns him into a pointless megalomaniac then senselessly covers his face with an expressionless mask.
Some sequences are fairly enjoyable, but the film lurches and struggles to maintain any sense of momentum, throwing in irrelevant action (like a meaningless snowboard sequence with a dud punchline), endless groan-worthy puns in the dialog and on screen, and a turgid love triangle. Even the effects feel rushed and simplistic. As a B-movie it does have its pleasures, mostly in Evans' thoughtless enthusiasm and the durable premise itself. Which certainly deserved a much better movie than this. But if you hire hack filmmakers, this is what you get.
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© 2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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