We gave it a C
Most big-screen versions of comic books strive to hip-ify their subjects. Not Fantastic Four. This clumsy, cheesy, chintzy adaptation, with its F/X that look dated the moment you see them, is like something left over from the ’60s, the heyday of Marvel’s longest-running series. Square and goofy at the same time, it reduces its power-packed heroes to figures of innocuous low comedy, turning their ”normal” selves into soap-opera ciphers. When Dr. Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) and his team of astronaut scientists are engulfed by radiation that transforms their DNA, their new abilities are played for lite laughs. Johnny Storm (Chris Evans), the clownish hothead who becomes the Human Torch, cooks Jiffy Pop in his palm. Reed, the stretchy Mr. Fantastic, flexes his limber limbs by reaching across the hall for toilet paper, and Sue Storm (Jessica Alba), the Invisible Woman, keeps getting caught with her clothes off. Then there’s Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), whose transformation into the Thing, that walking hulk of cracked granite, with his Quasimodoid self-pity, is the closest the film comes to giving a character a tidbit of a dilemma — i.e., a personality. Chiklis, growling like a Damon Runyon lug, makes him a genial hellguy, which is more than I can say for the other three actors, who compete in blandness. After the spectacle of Spider-Man 2, the psychodramatic grip of Batman Begins, the slapstick genius of The Incredibles, who needs these cardboard heroes anyway? They are far — too far — from super.