L. Neil Smith's
Number 328, July 17, 2005

"Because the Government is evil and stupid..."

Fantastic "Utopia"?
by Michael Brightbill

Exclusive to TLE

Last week, I dug up seven dollars and went to go see Fantastic Four. I had different reasons to go see this movie. Some of the key reasons were that there was nothing else that looked any good that I hadn't seen yet, I am a comic book geek, though I haven't purchased one in more than 2 years, and I am a libertarian, either large L or small.

The first two reasons may seem pretty clear, the last a bit more obscure. I'll explain later. Allow me first to do a roll call of the actors and actresses of the movie.

The part of Reed Richards, the world renowned brilliant scientist, is played by the British Ioan Gruffudd who as had some minor parts in Black Hawk Down, Titanic, and a larger role in King Arthur.

The part of Sue Storm, Invisible Woman, is played by the delicious Jessica Alba, which most will remember from the television show Dark Angel and her part in the recent Sin City.

The part of Johnny Storm, The Human Torch, is played by Chris Evans, who has been in the comedy Not Another Teen Movie, and the drama Cellular.

The blue eyed Thing, Ben Grimm, is played by Michael Chiklis who is mostly recognized as Detective Vic Mackey from The Shield.

The bad guy part is played by actor Julian McMahon who has had many parts in different television shows, including Charmed and his more recent Nip/Tuck, in which he plays Doctor Christian Troy.

Now, on to the story of the movie.

Reed Richards wishes to go into space to record the effects on DNA of a massive cosmic storm. Unable to convince NASA, he turns to mutual MIT graduate Doctor Victor Von Doom, who has built a large, successful, highly advanced space station without stealing trillions of dollars from citizens and throwing down a massive "national" sinkhole. Sorry, got carried away there.

Doom agrees on the condition that he retains 75 percent of all profits of any discoveries made by use of his space station. Which seems only just, considering Reed isn't spending a dime to finance the trip.

So Reed, Sue, Johnny, Ben, and Doom all boogie up to the Doom Space Station hours what they believe to be hours ahead of the cosmic storm. Turns out that Reed's calculations are wrong, and all five of them are caught in a massive and unknown cosmic storm. Everything seems fine, until Johnny bursts into flame while skiing, Sue turns invisible when she thinks that Reed is avoiding looking at her, Reed stretches to impossible distances to catch a bottle, and Ben busts through the wall of the villa and disappears into the distance.

Hijinks ensue as each character deals with their power in their own way. In the background, Doom goes crazy when he finds out that his body is changing as well, due to the storm.

To add to Doom's problems, the fact that a Doom company was involved in such a PR nightmare has made the investors and the Board nervous. Eventually, they pull out and leave Doom and his company to die in peace. This makes Doom even crazier. He blames Reed and the rest of "Fantastic Four" for his troubles and sets about to destroy them. The fight takes on the properties of all massive villain fights do, lots of banter, big explosions that destroy private property, perfect cooperation between the good guys, and, in the end, the big EVIL is vanquished. The now famous Fantastic Four party on a bar boat, while Doom's body is shipped off to his home land, Latveria. But oh, what was the origin of that power surge? Could Doom still be alive?

That, readers, is my review of the movie. Here's my review of the actors and performances.

I honestly don't think Ioan Gruffudd did a very good job. His delivery was stilted and dry; much like the British themselves.

Jessica Alba played her part well. Her acting ability is good enough for the film, but the writing of her lines was horrible. They gave her lines like when Doom says "Come on Sue, let's not fight." Her response is a limp, "No, LET'S!" She did what she could with the material they gave her.

Apparently the only gold the producers saw in Michael Chiklis was his ability to be loud, and portray being wounded, since that's all the viewer gets from his performance.

The only refreshing performances in the movie are by Chris Evans and Julian McMahon. McMahon portrays dark and sinister with an aplomb and skill that is refreshing in this movie. Chris Evans pulls off the part of Johnny spectacularly. Even when the character demands he does something incredibly ridiculous, he pulls it off, and makes it work. His delivery is always sharp and funny, his timing flawless.

Here's where I vent about how I was insulted by the break from Marvel canon in the creation of this movie. This will quickly blend into and wrap around why I was disgusted with the movie from a Libertarian point.

Allow me to point out the massive breaks from canon by covering what happened in the comic book.

In the comic book, Reed Richards was, again, a brilliant scientist, who, at a young age, lost his parents, who were both greatly successful. They left him a massive amount of inheritance that he got to play with to run his experiments and design his inventions, which also garnered him a great deal of money. Reed did, with his own money, what a government run space program never could. He developed a highly advanced spacecraft. The government came around and insisted that he couldn't go through with the test of his craft, until they went over every nut and bolt to ensure that it was space worthy. Reed said, "Screw that!" and at night, secretly took flight, with his girlfriend Sue Storm, pilot Ben Grimm, and co-pilot Johnny Storm. While in space they hit an unexpected cosmic storm which fried the spacecraft and sent it hurtling back to Earth. They all survived, but were changed fundamentally into the Fantastic Four.

Doctor Victor Von Doom, who in the book was Viktor Von Doom, grew up as royalty in the small country of Latveria. He went to MIT along with Reed Richards, who was more intelligent that he was. Doom's brilliance was also fired with madness. Doom went ahead with an experiment that Reed swore had incorrect calculations. Doom blew up a building, which MIT frowns on, and got a small scratch on his face. He was kicked out of MIT, and was convinced that he had been disfigured beyond any chance of reconstruction. (Remember, he's crazy). While Reed knew success, Doom wandered around until he found a small enclave of mystic monks, no, I'm serious, that forged him a mystical mask. Doom, so impatient to have the mask, took it from the monks, and placed it on his face while it was still red hot, scarring his face. Doom then returned to his home country, overthrew whatever family member was ruling at the time, and declared himself absolute ruler. He then went on to exploit the people and the land that he ruled over to feed his madness. Doom built all sorts of machines that he then sold on the black market to unsavory types. Doom was even moderately successful in making a time machine. Eventually he crossed paths again with Reed, but that was further on in the series.

Now, maybe you have discovered what Libertarian problems I have with this movie. If not, I will go on to explain them.

Doom: In the book, Doom was a king, or king-in-waiting, if you will, that was certifiably insane. He brought misery and death to his country, and the world. The key here is he was royalty. In the movie, he was a multibillion dollar successful businessman, that some how is evil at the same stroke, most scenes being in dark and shadowy board rooms. Almost immediately after coming back to Earth he goes on a killing spree, because, as you all know, brilliant successful businessmen are all psycho killers in waiting.

The scene that I mentioned above, that Doom insisted he receive 75 percent of all profits garnered from the trip, I think, is supposed to make the audience gasp in horror. But why? Doom has spent billions and billions of dollars on this space station, an the required support craft to man it. He's entitled.

Reed: Reed, in the books, was a brilliant, no holds barred individualist that told the government to bite it, and quickly and easily showed them up.

In the movie, he is a whiney, flustered socially inept peon that first begs NASA to go to space, and when that doesn't work, goes to his classmate, Doom. Excuse me?!

Those are the most obvious problems that I have with the movie. The graphics are ok. Though there are points that it slips a toe over the line of cartoony, but they try. Thing's costume gave me flashbacks to the Ninja Turtles.

In closing, the writing is laughable. Some of the scenes they get into is questionable, and the acting in some points is cardboard. They bastardized the comic book to suite socialist ideals, which hurt the most. It is entertaining, though it leaves me with questions that you can ask yourself while watching the movie.

If Johnny Storm can fire plasma bolts of fire at will, why doesn't he just shoot one at the heat seeking missile that's trailing him, blowing it to bits?

What happened to the flowers of the experiment that was supposed to unlock all these DNA secrets? Yes, you were changed too, but what about the whole reason you went up to space in the first place? There's still billions of dollars to be made, but the flowers are never seen again.

I give it 2 out of 5 gold coins.


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