It’s rare that I get to see one non-kids movie in the theater a month, let alone two. There was probably some rare planetary alignment that influenced me to make those two movies both company book movies. Or, perhaps, a Summer glutted with them and original films that just don’t seem all that attractive.
Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised after watching this film. I was first introduced to Iao–Ioua–er, to the actor playing Mr. Fantastic in A&E’s superb adaptation of the Horatio Hornblower novels. OK, the wife gets credit for introducing me to a television mini-series that I may not have otherwise watched, but I am thoroughly thankful that she did.
At all events, he did a competent job portraying the brainy Dr. Richards opposite Jessica Alba’s sizzling, perhaps overly so, Sue Storm. Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis almost seemed made for their roles as Johny Storm and Ben Grimm, respectively. As much as I liked Julian McMahon during his stint on Charmed, when I still watched the show, I thought he was a pretty weak link. The writer’s treatment was the most superficial of all the characters, turning him into a corporate monster, a pretty common trick for modern comic book treatments. He had a few moments where he did manage to show some interesting inner development along the way to becoming Dr. Doom, but otherwise I could have taken or left his performance.
Despite the plot being somewhat formulaic, down to Grimm’s actions in the build up to the movie’s climax, it moved along at a fair pace without resorting to too much exposition. The dialogue wasn’t overly corny, as it is often wont to be in these kinds of films, with a few exceptions. I was never a regular reader of this particular comic book, but having read so many other Marvel titles, I had a decent grasp of the characters’ origins and relationships. For what it is worth, I thought that given the constraints of the medium and trying to play to a wider audience, the screen writers did a fairly faithful job.
The effects were pretty good, though the stretching of Ioan Gruffud was just a bit creepy at times. The make up on The Thing was more convincing than I thought it would be from the trailers. It still didn’t look quite rocky enough, for me, though the small rock-on-rock sound effects helped a bit to remind me and inform the viewers who might know otherwise the composition of his trademark orange exterior.
All-in-all, while not as enjoyable to me as Batman Begins, it was a solidly enjoyable film that was just plain fun. Given past treatments of the material and Marvel’s long track record of botching big and small screen translations of their properties, I would definitely recommend this one to fans and first timers, alike.