Monday, February 15, 2010

Movie Review: The Fantastic Four (1994)

The Fantastic Four
Unrated
3 Slimes
Copyright New Horizons 1994

THE CHARACTERS
Mr. Fantastic/Dr. Reed Richards: A scientist who wants to harvest energy from some comet for an unknown reason. This all goes wrong and he ends up being able to stretch his body in anyway. He and Susan marry at the end of the film.

The Thing/Ben Grimm: Michael Bailey Smith! He’s pretty small for the Thing. I always pictured him, you know, larger. He, at first, finds his transformation horrible, but he soon gets over it.  He and Alicia become a couple.  I would love to see how that works.

The Human Torch/Johnny Storm: He is Susan’s younger brother who constantly overreacts to many different things. He can make fire or turn into the Human Torch at anytime he wants by saying flame on.

The Invisible Woman/Susan Storm: Rebecca Stab! She is Johnny’s older sister who can turn invisible and make shields (She only does this once) after being hit by the cosmic waves. I don’t know what she really provides for the film since she mostly just acts as love interest for Reed. Speaking of which, she and Reed marry at the end of the film.

Alicia Masters: She is a blind sculptor who falls in love with Ben after he breaks one of her statues and after only one meeting. I don’t know why, but we run with that.

Dr. Doom/Victor Von Doom: This guy has the most awesome voice for a villain I have ever heard! He also has the best cheesiest evil laugh I have ever heard and I think he hired Tim Curry has one of his henchmen. He was a former friend of Reed, but was horribly scarred by an accident he caused, but which he blames Reed for anyways. He falls off a cliff at the end of the film, but he probably survived. Bullets can’t hurt him, but a sucker punch sure can cause a lot of damage.

Jeweler: He is sort of a combination of the Rat King (Batman: Animated Series), the Sewer King (Hey Arnold), and the Leprechaun who has a love for jewelry and blind sculptors. He lives in the sewers and provides the unwanted with a home. He sort of vanishes towards the end of the film and we never hear about whatever happened to him.

LESSONS LEARNED
+ Class is dismissed before any bell rings.
+ Even if you are still clearly alive, a doctor can tell your family and friends that you are dead.
+ People can survive inside a spaceship as it explodes in space.
+ Super villains play with people’s faces.
+ Diamonds can be used to absorb cosmic rays.
+ Getting shot in the chest doesn’t always leave bullet holes in a body.
+ Getting superpowers depends on your personality.
+ Sewers have bottomless pits.
+ Breaking a woman’s statue and apologizing for it will make her fall in love with you.

STUFF TO WATCH FOR
0 min – Roger Corman was involved in this? That might explain something.
4 min – This is just about as interesting as my normal science classes.
7 min – Couldn’t work. You’re in middle school and he is in college. That would be very creepy if something were to happen.
15 min – Despite 10 years passing, it looks like 20 years passed for these people.
16 min – Was that just Dr. Claw?!
25 min – Let’s see, model rocket, stock footage of a real rocketship, and then, presto! They are high above the world now.
27 min – Now we cut to Skeletor’s lair.
28 min – Boom mike.
37 min – Who are these people and why is the Leprechaun there?
43 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A STOOL!
44 min – Now we are in Transylvania!
51 min – What? They couldn’t afford to have a fight scene?
55 min – I think he forgot his line there.
57 min – The 60s Batman music is playing in my head.
64 min – Yep, that’s my reaction to the costume as well.
69 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A TV!
71 min – That was random.
72 min – RANDOM FREAK OUT MOMENT!
74 min – She just said she loves you and you look at her like she said something stupid.
79 min – I love how only Susan is feeling the effects of the laser while everyone finds it mildly annoying. Also, why does Johnny look constipated?
81 min – How did they know they could do that?
85 min – You didn’t think plan this out much.

NOTABLE QUOTES
The Jeweler: [the Jeweler holds a gun to Alicia's head] Stand back or I'll shoot her!
Dr. Doom: Go ahead.
The Jeweler: I mean it!
Dr. Doom: No, Please, don't let me stop you.

The Thing: I love walking into a trap, don't you?
Mr. Fantastic: I don't know, never done it before.

THE PLOT

I bet you didn’t know that there was a Fantastic Four movie before the recent ones with Jessica Alba. That’s right; Marvel had originally made a Four movie before back in the 90s that would end up never being officially released in theaters. The studio that made the film actually never had intended for it to be released and only really made the film since they had the rights and they would have lost them if they didn’t make the movie.

So how did it get out of studio? Beats me. The movie is only available for purchase nowadays through bootlegs; kind of like Twice Upon a Time. For me, I decided to just watch the film on YouTube since someone put it up there. The quality may not be perfect, but it’s the only way to see this thing.

After a lengthy credit sequence, we meet Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom at a college class. Strange, I thought they were already out of college in the comics. When a comet is passing over, the two of them decide to test out this experiment they’ve been working on for a while now. The experiment seems like it is to harvest energy from a passing comet. Don’t know how that’s suppose to work, but then again, I’m not a scientist.

A problem erupts with the experiment for some vague reason and the whole thing blows up, nearly killing Victor. Though for some odd reason, despite the fact that Victor is still alive, the hospital decides to tell Reed that he is dead. Why? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to tell him that is friend is still alive? Hospitals are a strange place.

Now cut away to 10 years later, Reed has designed a space ship to go into space and he has his best friend, Ben Grimm, fly the thing. They also recruit 2 old friends of theirs, Johnny and Susan Storm, to act as their crew. Seems like a bad idea though if you ask me. They have no experience in any scientific field or useful qualities that can help Reed and Ben. The only reason they are coming is because they know a lot about the operation, which is a weak idea to bring them into space in the first place.

As they are gathering all of the equipment for the trip, a mysterious villain called the Jeweler, steals this diamond that is necessary for… something and then replaces it with a fake diamond instead. No one can tell the difference since the real one looks just as fake as the fake diamond. It doesn't even look like a diamond in the first place; it looks more like a geode actually.

So the time comes for our heroes to blast off into space. Why are they going out there in the first place? They are going after that comet from before to… harvest its energy. However, without the diamond’s power to shield the ship or absorb the rays somehow, the cosmic rays from the comet pass into the ship and hit all of the heroes. Then their ship explodes and somewhere, some metal face dude (Yeah I know, Dr. Doom) is laughing happily.

Now we see that the four characters are still alive and on earth somewhere, despite the fact that the ship explode in many pieces in the middle of space. Ignoring the illogical moment there that'll never be explained, the heroes then discover that they have superpowers (Johnny interestingly enough can make bushes spontaneously combust.) and all because cosmic waves. Comets sure are something else.

While all of this is happening, there is an odd subplot about the Jeweler, using his homeless henchmen to capture a blind sculptor named Alicia Master so she can be his queen of the sewers I suppose. This only has some sort of connection to the main storyline because Alicia has met Ben before very briefly and has fallen in love with him.

Back to heroes, the Marines find them and are to take them back to their base. However, when they arrive, all of them discover that Ben as turned into The Thing! The Marines take the four of them to their base, which turns out to Dr. Doom’s HQ apparently. He is completely excited by their changes and tries to come up with a way to be able to harness their powers and for that, he needs that diamond the Jeweler took.

To sum it all up, the Jeweler stole the diamond so he can use it as a wedding present for when he forces Alicia to marry him. Dr. Doom wants the diamond so it can absorb the comet’s power and the power from the four. When sending men to get the diamond from Jeweler, it doesn’t work, so now Doom will have to go there personally. Remember, if want something done right you have to do yourself.

Meanwhile, the super powered four decide to break out of the place since they are tired of waiting. On their way out, they run into Dr. Doom, who demands that they go back to their rooms and wait. Ok then… since that obviously doesn’t work, he sends a battalion of green hooded cape soldiers to take them out. The four heroes beat them all and make their great escape out through a Styrofoam wall, leaving Dr. Doom puzzled and surprised. I don’t think saying ‘Oh’ is a proper reaction for realizing the good guys got away.

The four hightail it back to the city (Don’t ask me how they got there) and try to figure out what happened to them. Ben is depressed about how he is a freak now and decides to leave. Then, in less than a day or even a night, Susan is able to make costumes for everyone. How can you make 3 costumes in less than a half a day all by yourself?! Not only that, but Reed makes an extremely big assumption that Victor is still alive since he and Reed are apparently the only people to have ever come with the idea to harness the power from that comet. Oh come on! In a world this big, how can possibly think you are the only person to have ever come up with that idea?

Somehow, Ben keeps walking around and ends up on a rooftop that is suppose to look like an alley (Bad set design people, hard to believe I haven’t seen it yet), where he runs into the Jeweler’s homeless goons. They offer to take him since they understand how he is an outcast because of his looks. At the same time, Dr. Doom shows up to steal the diamond from the Jeweler with his whole men.

After a huge and really pathetic shootout in which just about all Jeweler’s men are wasted, Dr. Doom is about to steal the time when Ben shows up and defeats Doom’s goons. Then the villain takes Alicia hostage and Ben turns back to normal. Alright then, I guess the script just called for it because it is more dramatically convenient. Since Ben is back normal, he then takes off like a wimp, leaving Alicia with Doom. Some hero.

Once Ben gets back to the city levels, he turns back into The Thing. Like I said earlier, this only happens because I believe the script said so. Dr. Doom contacts the other 3 heroes through their big screen in their lab. Don’t know how he hacked in, but alright then! He says he has the diamond now and has finished his laser gun! He then demonstrates it by showing them stock footage of nuclear testing back in the 40s.  How evil of him!

So he wants them to surrender themselves or he’ll vaporize New York City with his cannon. I don’t know why he doesn’t do that automatically since well, they are in NYC or he could just have the cannon take out the tower the heroes are in since he clearly knows where they are. But whatever, it’s an evil villain’s plan so who I am to question his logic or lack of it.

Ben shows up and the four head off to tackle Dr. Doom, now as the triumph Fantastic Four in their silly Halloween costumes. So they break into Doom’s base, head into the control room to dismantle the laser, and then got promptly caught by a pathetic trap because they were all standing together in one specific spot. Great… Doom enters and mocks them, like he should, and then tells Reed he is like this (A walking tin can in a cape), because of him. Dude, you are like that because you wouldn’t get off the computer in time despite Reed telling you to. If anything, it is your own damn fault.

Using the diamond and another laser, Doom attempts to steal the F.F.’s powers from them. However, Reed stretches his foot out of the trap (Doom needs to make better traps) and knocks out the laser. With that, the four escape start beating up Dr. Doom’s henchmen. The fighting is so hammy and amusing that it just awesome. Johnny stops the laser, Ben rescues Alicia, and Reed goes to confront Dr. Doom head on.

So Reed and Doom start fighting and the fight proves to be a big disgrace on the villain’s part since he can’t fight for crap. Reed knocks Doom off a cliff and he lets him fall to his death. How heroic of Reed! Doom is dead (Maybe, after all, people are known to survive falling off a cliff in movies), Susan and Reed marry, Alicia and Ben become an item, and film ends there.

Well that was the 90s Fantastic Four and what a show it was. To be perfectly honest, the movie was horrible and terrible, mostly for having a budget of 1.5 million dollars, but yet I enjoyed it. I liked it because it was so bad that it was good. There is no way for me to take this movie seriously in anyway, but yet it was fun. The overacting of the characters, the terrible special effects, and the overall cheesiness of the dialogue was great. However, what really was the highlight for me was Dr. Doom. The guy had a great and commanding voice for what I expect a super villain should have and I also like how sometimes he over or under reacts to some of the events that happen.

There are problems with this film as well that does hurt it. I like to question a lot of the science in the movie and a lot of the plot holes or unanswered questions left behind at the ending of the film. However, the worst offense to the film is the lighting. I haven’t seen such bad lighting since Blood Beach. It's hard to watch since most scenes take place in the dark.

Still, this was a fun movie in the long run. Is it better than the recent Fantastic Four films? I personally couldn’t say, since they are all on the same level in my view. I also can’t really compare those films or this one to the comics themselves to see how close they were to the source material since I never read them before. Either way, check out the film if you want to watch a really fun and cheesy superhero movie.

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