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Posts Tagged ‘Chris Evans (not the ginger one)’

I don’t want things to get too confessional around here, especially so soon after I owned up (again) to not being that big a fan of Blade Runner (probably best not to mention I’ve always been fairly lukewarm about Goodfellas, too), but: I’ve never entirely seen what all the fuss is about when it comes to Agatha Christie, either. I know, I know: two billion sales, translated into over a hundred languages, author of the best crime novel ever, apparently – words like massive and enduring don’t begin to do justice to her appeal. She is the kind of writer, it seems, that other people don’t just read and enjoy, they read and enjoy and want to have a go themselves – a friend of mine writes Christie pastiches as a hobby. (This isn’t just limited to her particular brand of suspense, of course; another friend has half a dozen Scandi noir mysteries for sale on Amazon.)

Oh well, I suppose I will just have to get used to being in the minority about this, along with everything else. Someone else in the Christie fan club is the writer-director Rian Johnson, whose new movie Knives Out is the purest example of knocked-off Agatha I can remember seeing on the big screen in a very long time. Johnson is best known for work in a different genre – he made the superior SF movie Looper a few years back, and was then responsible for the last main-sequence stellar conflict movie (apparently the worst movie ever to make $1.3 billion, if you believe the voices of the internet) – but if you dig down into his career he clearly has a fondness for the mystery genre. One of the good things about your last film making $1.3 billion, is that – regardless of how derided it is – you can basically write your own ticket for a while, and Johnson has made wise use of this.

The plot of Knives Out is, not surprisingly, twisty-turny stuff, but the basic set-up goes a little something like this. Famous and successful mystery author Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead, the morning after his eighty-fifth birthday party, apparently by his own hand. The police make the necessary enquiries, interviewing his various children and their partners (Michael Shannon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson and Toni Collette amongst them); it soon becomes apparent that nearly everyone in the family had a reason for wanting the old man dead – but they also all have alibis for the time of his demise, and there is no forensic evidence of any foul play. The cops are inclined to list the whole thing as a suicide and go about their business, but also on the scene is renowned private detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig, deploying an accent as outrageously thick as his pay packet for the next Bond movie), who is convinced there is more going on (not least because some unknown individual has retained him to consult on the case). He confides all this to Harlan’s former nurse, Marta (Ana de Armas), who has her own insights into the family’s somewhat unusual internal dynamics – and, from Blanc’s point of view, the useful psychological quirk that she is incapable of telling a lie without experiencing an alarming degree of projectile emesis. Can Blanc and Marta crack the case? Is there even a case to be cracked?

As you can perhaps discern, all the essential elements of the classic country house murder mystery are present, making this a recreation of a form which was probably creaking a bit even before the Second World War. In those terms it probably sounds like a bemusing folly, the continuing popularity of the genre notwithstanding, but Johnson is smart enough to be aware of this and deftly update the form for a modern audience. Part of his response is to ground the film firmly in the present day: there are jokes about the alt-right and snowflakes, and references to the modern political situation in the US; if you look hard enough, there is a sardonic subtext about the tension between established, entitled American citizens and the immigrant workers they are so reliant on. Of course, this may mean the film is liable to date rather quickly, but I suspect this is incidental enough to the plot for it not to be a major problem.

The other notable thing about Knives Out is how knowing it is: the film isn’t desperately ironic, but it is fully aware of how camply absurd Christie-style plotting is, and makes it work by embedding it in a film with its film firmly in its cheek. This borders on being a full-blown comedy thriller, with a lot of very funny moments mixed in with the detective work and exposition. The family are a collection of comic grotesques, while Craig turns in one of the biggest performances of his career so far. Just how much fun he is having playing Blanc is palpably clear, and one could easily imagine a post-Bond career where he swaggers his way through another film like this every few years; rumour has it that talks regarding a follow-up are already taking place. Craig pitches it just a bit too big to be credible, but big enough to be so entertaining you don’t really care; Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael J Shannon, Toni Collette, Don Johnson and Chris Evans follow his lead. That some of the other participants turn in much more naturalistic performances without the film collapsing into a mess of jarring styles is also to Johnson’s credit.

It seems that you can still make this kind of story work for a modern audience: the trick is not to try and make it terribly relevent to contemporary concerns, but to embrace the confected nature of the form and run with it, concentrating above all else on simple entertainment value. It sounds simple, but this is a ferociously clever, witty film, both in its mechanics and in terms of the sly games it plays with the audience. Fingers crossed that it connects with cinema-goers to the extent that it deserves to; the early signs are good. As noted, I am agnostic about Agatha Christie and that whole subgenre of mystery fiction, but I still had a whale of a time watching Knives Out; I imagine most people will have a similar experience.

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Spring 2016 may well go down in history as the point at which the superhero movie phenomenon became so all-pervading that the heroes themselves ran out of villains to fight and started beating each other up instead. We have already seen DC entering the fray with their Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, while right now Marvel are striking back with the Russo brothers’ Captain America: Civil War (there may well end up being a colon shortage as well as a supervillain drought).

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Civil War comes out at an odd time for the Marvel Studios juggernaut: their franchise-of-franchises seems to be as popular as ever, with a huge slate of movies planned over the next few years and even a goofy and obscure character like Ant-Man capable of scoring a significant box-office success – but, having said that, their last lynchpin movie, Age of Ultron, received only a lukewarm response from critics and did rather less well than the first Avengers movie. So the new movie has something to prove, even if it’s only Marvel’s ability to consistently make this kind of huge spectacle genuinely entertaining rather than simply an exercise in storyline management.

Things get underway with Captain America (Chris Evans – the other one) leading the Avengers into action in Lagos, taking down the high-tech mercenary Crossbones. However, in the process there is significant collateral damage and a number of civilian deaths. This only chimes with the somewhat gloomy mood of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), who is still struggling to deal with being responsible for the near-extinction of the human race in the last movie he appeared in.

It turns out the UN agrees and proposals are drawn up to place the Avengers under close governmental supervision, unable to go into action without official sanction. Obviously, this sits better with some members of the team than others, and the situation is only exacerbated when the meeting to ratify the new arrangement is bombed, seemingly by the Captain’s childhood friend-turned-cyborg hitman Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). Needless to say, Cap can’t stand by and let his old pal be hunted down like a dog, which puts him and his latterday partner Falcon (Anthony Mackie) on collision course not just with Iron Man and his officially-sanctioned team, but the vengeful African superhero Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman)…

You may already be thinking ‘Wow, for what’s supposedly a Captain America movie, there are a lot of other super-people in this film’. Well, you’re not wrong there: in addition to all of those guys, the rest of the current Avengers line-up – Black Widow, Vision, Scarlet Witch, and War Machine – also make significant contributions, while Hawkeye comes out of retirement too. Paul Rudd steals practically every scene he’s in as Cap recruits Ant-Man for his squad, while the film’s most heavily-trailed innovation is the introduction of Tom Holland as yet another new version of Spider-Man, on Iron Man’s team.

This is, to be fair, somewhat indulgently done, with Marvel clearly doing a lot of the prep work for their first Spidey film, due out next year. Spider-Man’s youth and chattiness are really dialled up to the point where it’s almost slightly ridiculous, but by this point the film is on such a bombastic roll that you either go with it, and most likely have a good time, or don’t.

The Russos pull off the neat trick of making a film which, in its initial stages at least, looks and feels rather like their previous film, 2014’s Winter Soldier, before escalating rather considerably to become something much on the scale of one of Joss Whedon’s Avengers movies. If you were one of the people moved to sheer ecstasy by those sequences where the Hulk fought Thor (neither of whom appear here, by the way), or the big green guy took on Iron Man’s Hulkbuster suit, then this movie will be right up your street as it features full-scale superhero action on an unprecedented scale: Hawkeye vs Vision! Ant-Man vs Black Widow! Spider-Man vs Winter Soldier! It all kicks off and then some, and the colossal battle which concludes the second act of the film will take some topping.

It’s not entirely surprising that the actual villain of the piece, Zemo (played by Daniel Bruhl), rather vanishes into the background, but then the whole point of the story is that this is a guy who knows he has no chance of taking on the Avengers in a fight. To be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely convinced that this story actually hangs together all that well – Zemo’s plan seems to be one of those entirely dependent on random events going in his favour, and characters behaving in very particular ways. Isn’t it all just a bit too convoluted and machiavellian to be plausible?

Hey ho. I must confess that while I was watching it, none of this really occurred to me, although even then I found myself wondering just how wide an appeal Civil War is going to have: for the many people who’ve been following the Marvel movies over the last eight years, and are heavily invested in these characters and their relationships, this will likely be an enthralling and impressive movie – but for everyone else, I wonder if it isn’t in the end just a bit too introspective and downbeat for its own good. How are they going to include the kind of massive collateral damage that characterises their movies from now, given that Civil War establishes that innocent people caught in the crossfire do get killed?

Nevertheless, this movie does everything you want from a Marvel release, and very little you don’t want. It works on its own terms as a spectacular action movie, with a serious core but plenty of crowd-pleasing action and humour (Anthony Mackie gets most of the best jokes), and also teases and sets up a couple of future movies in the series – it seems virtually certain that Spider-Man: Homecoming will be a massive money-spinner, and if Black Panther looks like less of a sure-fire hit, I’m intrigued so see what they do with the character. Some people are murmuring to the effect that we are reaching saturation point when it comes to superhero movies, and that people will soon start to lose interest: however, as long as Marvel keep hitting this standard of quality, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

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It was fashionable, about ten years ago, to declare that we were living through the Golden Age of the Comic Book Movie. Implicit in this, of course, was the suggestion that one day the ‘Golden Age’ would end and we would go back to the bad old days when Joel Schumacher directed Batman films and David Hasselhoff played Nick Fury. Obviously it hasn’t happened; no year is complete without at least four major productions based on either Marvel or DC characters, and – if we’re honest about it – the overall standard of these is generally pretty good.

Much of the credit for this must obviously go to Marvel Studios, who hadn’t even released a film when talk of the ‘Golden Age’ first happened, but are now a major feature of the pop culture scene. Owners of the characters who Marvel farmed out prior to the creation of their own studio are now copying their franchise-of-franchises model (forthcoming X-Men and Fantastic Four movies will apparently be linked, while The Amazing Spider-Man looks set to spawn a glut of spin-offs), while even their old rivals at DC Comics seem intent on inverting the Marvel Studios’ model by using a team movie to lay the groundwork for various solo-hero projects.

It’s got to the stage where things are rapidly becoming traditional: the first Marvel Studios film of the year is a sure sign that summer is on the way – this being ‘summer’ in the cinema-release-schedule sense, of course. Cinema summer used to start in the middle of May or even later, and run until late August, but it has gradually been creeping out in both directions. This is why, only quite shortly after the official start of the British spring, I was able to go and enjoy Marvel’s latest would-be summer blockbuster, Captain America: The Winter Soldier (directed by Joe and Anthony Russo).

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Chris Evans (the other one) is, naturally, back as the steroidally-enhanced ex-corpsicle, and very logically the man with the shield is now working as an agent of SHIELD itself (although if one of his missions has been ‘make the TV series less disappointing’ it doesn’t seem to have worked, based on the episodes we’ve seen over here at least). This is despite his growing concerns over the intrusive and authoritarian methods SHIELD is increasingly adopting, and a lack of transparency within the organisation.

However, the increasing tensions between Cap and co-workers like Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are put on hold when senior elements of SHIELD come under attack. Dark forces are at work behind the scenes, and soon enough the star-spangled man is forced to go on the run from his own government’s intelligence apparatus, pursued by SHIELD itself and a shadowy, decades-old cyborg killer known only as the Winter Soldier.

As usual, I will answer the most important question first: yes, there are teasers after the end titles – two of them on this occasion. The second one isn’t much cop, but the first one is interesting. In any case, sitting through the credits gave me a chance for a nice chat with the guy sitting behind me concerning the status of the Rights-Fudge Twins, who will be appearing in wholly different incarnations in this year’s X-Men movie and next year’s Avengers sequel (as both mutants and members of the Avengers, they are covered by two licences, so their main superpower is essentially the ability to make entertainment lawyers very rich).

What about the rest of the movie, though? Well, as noted above (not to mention previously), Marvel are quite simply very good at making a certain kind of film, and they have not dropped the ball on this occasion. The plot is extremely robust, the effects are immaculate, the action is very well staged and there are laughs and more thoughtful moments in all the right places. Lots of familiar faces reappear from other movies (I see this is being advertised in some countries as a sequel to the first Captain America movie, but it really follows The Avengers at least as directly), plus some new characters are introduced into the mix. I found the movie version of Batroc the Leaper (played by Georges St-Pierre) to be pleasingly realised, but on other hand the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) largely seems to be present to beef up the film’s special-effects quotient, and I’m not sure how effective the revelation of the Winter Soldier’s secret really is. Obviously the highest-profile new face in this movie is Robert Redford as SHIELD commander Alexander Pierce, and while it’s nice to see the veteran star in such a high-profile movie, he doesn’t quite get the material he needs to shine.

The Winter Soldier is less SF than Iron Man 3 and a lot less fantastical than Thor: The Dark World, and this by default puts it towards the grittier end of the Marvel canon (although this is obviously a relative thing: there’s a limit to how gritty a film featuring flying aircraft carriers and malevolent AIs can truly be). It clearly wants to be about the tension between public safety and personal privacy, with Captain America obviously flying the flag for individual liberty, but this never feels like much more than a sprinkling of thematic dust on a big blockbuster machine of a movie. That said, Chris Evan does a genuinely impressive job of making Cap a stand-up, decent, idealistic guy without turning him into a prig or a bore, and the contrast between him and the Black Widow (who’s much more pragmatic) is nicely achieved.

The real genius of Marvel’s approach to all their films is that, so far, they’ve shown very good judgement when it comes to knowing how much they can vary their basic formula without losing the audience or destroying the unity of their films as a whole. That these films are conceived as part of a larger narrative is clear (and there’s a reference to Doctor Strange in this film which may suggest one direction this narrative may go in future), and while this has obviously worked on a number of levels, it does mean the films feel perhaps a little lacking in individual identity. Certainly, looking back at my reviews of Marvel Studio films all the way back to The Incredible Hulk in 2008, my general response has always been very much the same: they make technically brilliant, accomplished blockbusters that supply everything you would expect from the form, but somehow lack that extra bit of vision and individuality that lifts them above the level of simply being great entertainment. Well, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a vehicle for one of Marvel’s touchstone characters, so perhaps it was unreasonable to expect it to be too daring (on the other hand their next film, Guardians of the Galaxy, promises to be utterly insane), and it is after all, ultimately a superhero blockbuster. Most people will go to see it expecting nothing more than an entertaining movie from a well-loved brand: and they will not be disappointed. The Golden Age shows no sign of finishing just yet.

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Step back in time with me, back, back, beyond the borders of the familiar world we know and understand, back to a strange new realm of different priorities and peculiar truths. Let the comforting certainties of the 2010s tumble away as we are whisked back to a place and a time undreamed of. I cannot guarantee your safety, but the wonders you will see will be their own reward.

Well, probably not, as we’re only going back to 2007, the year which gave the world the third Pirates of the Caribbean film (gee, thanks) and the first Transformers (you know, you really honestly shouldn’t have bothered). So far, so exactly the same, you may be thinking – and up to a point you may be right. Nevertheless, as inhabitants of a world which has grown accustomed to Marvel superhero movies crossing over with each other and making $1.2 billion in record time, this is in some ways an odd year for us.

Marvel Studios is, as yet, still only an untried name without a single blockbuster hit to its credit. Marvel comics characters are still being leased out to other studios, such as the makers of the X-Men and Spider-Man series. Both of these have had critical wobbles recently. This is as nothing, however, to the mauling doled out to Tim Story’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, a further movie based on the seminal comic, starring… hang on, isn’t that the guy out of The Avengers?

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Yes, it’s time for another round of Is It Really As Bad As All That? Let us examine the case for the prosecution: a quick sampling of internet opinion reveals Rise of the Silver Surfer to be ‘an awful, tedious drudge’, a ‘tedious, incoherent bore’, ‘relentlessly dull’, ‘existentially and aesthetically unnecessary’, a ‘plotless, brainless, witless bore’, and ‘drearier than corn dying in the Iowa sun’. Yowser. (Even so, many people, even while sticking it to this movie, cheerfully acknowledged it was much better than the original film).

Hmmm. As the movie opens, our elementally-powered quartet (Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis) are getting on with their lives as celebrity superheroes. Top of the current agenda is Reed and Sue’s impeding wedding, plans for which keep getting disrupted by international crises, invasions from the Negative Zone, paparazzi, etc, etc. However, an equally serious problem appears with the arrival on Earth of a mysterious blob of space energy, which criss-crosses the globe causing all sorts of strange CGI effects shots. The space energy also wakes up the dormant Doctor Doom (Julian McMahon) in his Latverian castle, no doubt causing a ripple of apprehension on the audience’s part: not because he’s a terrifying villain, but because the handling of the character was so fundamentally botched in the first movie.

The US Army insists that Mr Fantastic do his bit in tracking the intruder from space, though juggling this with the wedding arrangements is a challenge even for a man with rubber fingers. Nevertheless, both projects proceed apace and come to fruition at the same moment. It’s just the rottenest of luck that the space blob objects to being tracked and crashes the wedding to fry Reed’s  gear, transforming into a silver dude on a surfboard in the process (the reasons for this are never really dwelt upon, but as Jack Kirby’s reasoning behind the character’s look basically boiled down to ‘I’m bored of drawing spaceships’, you can kind of understand why).

It eventually transpires that the Silver Surfer (Doug Jones and Laurence Fishburne) is the advance scout for a world-devouring alien superbeing, Galactus, who is already en route to Earth. The Four have to persuade the Surfer to help them repel this threat, always assuming they can put to one side Reed and Sue’s romantic issues. And a problem the Torch has picked up where he keeps swapping powers with the others. Oh, and Doctor Doom quite fancies getting his gauntleted hands on the Surfer’s power, too…

Now, I quite liked the 2005 movie about these characters. While it made a right royal mess of one of comics’ greatest heavies by completely reimagining Doom’s background and powers, it was pacy, looked good, and got at least half of the feel of the Fantastic Four comics pretty much bang-on. By this I mean that the book itself gains much of its flavour and entertainment value from the sparks generated when a tongue-in-cheek family sitcom rubs up against grandiose cosmic spectacle and psychedelic weirdness. The first film got the sitcom right but fluffed the spectacle.

If there’s a real problem with Rise of the Silver Surfer, it’s that this time the situation is reversed. In this film the globe-trotting adventure is well-mounted, with some really effective sequences – the Torch’s aerial pursuit of the Surfer through New York City being just about precisely what you’d want to see in a Fantastic Four movie – but the character interaction and comedy is, for the most part, completely inert when it isn’t actually slightly painful to watch. An authentic Fantastic Four movie would be much sharper, more intelligent, and – crucially – much funnier than this one ever manages to be. Family-friendly it may be, but it’s the enemy of your grey cells.

That said, it’s not actually as boring as its critics seem to think – the story rattles along pacily enough courtesy of the multi-stranded plot and does its best to tick as many demographic boxes as it can – knockabout action for the kids, so-so jokes for the adults, comics in-jokes for the fanboys and some tasteful T&A from Jessica Alba for the benefit of internet film bloggers. It just never quite convinces as a serious movie, mainly because of the jokey tone of the opening. At one point there’s a sequence about the US Army torturing the captive Surfer for information, which in a darker film might have been quite effective – but here, it just seems incongruous and a real misjudgement.

I suppose Julian McMahon was already under contract as Doom, so they had to put him in the movie, and you can see the logic behind having a go at adapting the classic story from issues #57-60 where Doom usurps the Surfer’s Power Cosmic, but once again the good Doctor is one of the weak points of the film. Neither script nor performance ever really come close to doing Doctor Doom justice, although – once again – the final tussle between him and a rather Super-Skrull-esque Human Torch ticks all the right boxes in terms of property damage and digital virtuosity.

But then that really feels like this movie all over – the production values are excellent, the story (just about) hangs together, and the actors playing the title roles have nothing to be ashamed of. (Nevertheless, the toxic wake of this film seems to have effectively destroyed Ioan Gruffudd’s career as a leading man in major movies.) It’s just that the characters seem to have no depth and interact with each other in the most mechanical way, which is bad news for drama, but absolutely grim tidings for anything with ambitions to be light and/or amusing. The main problem with Rise of the Silver Surfer is not that it doesn’t work as a superhero movie, but that it fails as a comedy and a drama.

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From the Hootoo archive. Originally published August 4th 2005:

It’s getting so that summer at the movies isn’t summer at the movies without a movie with Stan Lee’s name on it having a massive day-and-date release. With the exception of 2001, every year so far this century has seen Stan The Man and his numerous fictitious progeny enjoying extended stays near the top of the cinema charts. We’ve had the X-Men, the Hulk, and Spider-Man (plus considerably less successful out-of-season appearances by Daredevil, Elektra, and the Punisher), but now Lee’s first and arguably most important creations get their moment in the spotlight – yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s the Fantastic Four, in a film by Tim Storey.

The film opens with the world’s most brilliant scientist Reed Richards (Yowain Griffiths1) and his sidekick Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) trying to get funding for his latest space mission. As NASA are understandably preoccupied with another attempt at inventing a double-sided sticky tape that works on thermal tiles, they are forced to seek help from billionaire tycoon Victor von Doom (Julian McMahon). Yes, Reed may be a scientific genius but he still can’t recognise someone who might as well have ‘destined to become a supervillain’ stencilled across his forehead. Anyway, Reed, Ben and Doom pop up to the latter’s private space station in the company of Reed’s ex-girlfriend Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) and her slightly annoying younger brother Johnny (Chris Evans – no, not that one, another one).

Before you can say ‘this is one superhero origin story that hasn’t aged especially well’ the station gets hit by a cloud of cosmic energy and all the inhabitants duly find themselves Fantasticised on their return to Earth. Ben is permanently transformed into a colossally strong being of living rock! Johnny can set fire to himself (this is more use than it sounds)! Sue can turn invisible and project invisible energy fields! And Reed can go a bit stretchy. Three out of four ain’t bad, I suppose. Of course, Doom also finds himself a changed man, although unfortunately the evil megalomaniac component of his personality is wholly unaltered…

A film of the FF has been a long time coming for the simple reason that until quite recently it would have impossibly expensive to do – back in the 60s, even a cartoon of the Four needed the Human Torch removing in order for it not to be impossible expensive to do! Now, of course, technology has caught up, and CGI is able to bring Mr Fantastic’s elasticated limbs and the Torch’s fiery sheath to the screen in fine style. Interestingly, the film opts not to create the Thing digitally, but rather through the old-fashioned method of putting Michael Chiklis inside what must have been a gruelling prosthetic make-up job. The result is not entirely authentic – Chiklis just isn’t big or rocky enough to pass for the classic comics Thing – but it does allow Chiklis to give a genuine, and actually rather affecting performance. Just as well, because this is a film built around performances rather than big set pieces.

What may surprise people used to the rather dour tone most comic book adaptations have adopted since Tim Burton’s first Batman is how light and breezy most of this movie is. With the exception of Ben, whose life is understandably messed up by his new circumstances, the Four have a rather jolly time, not bothering with tedious things like secret identities and spending most of their time in their spacious skyscraper HQ amiably squabbling. The film’s faithfulness to the source material is, up to a point, impressive and successful. This is a genuinely funny character-based film that touches most of the bases Lee and Jack Kirby covered in the comic – the characterisations of the Four are pretty much spot on, even down to Reed and Sue’s romance being a bit passionless and unconvincing.

However, the greatness of the classic Fantastic Four books came from the way they mixed wise-cracking sitcom characterisations (Lee’s forte, one suspects) with mind-boggling kitsch cosmic grandeur (Kirby’s stock in trade). Storey’s film has the former in spades but virtually none of the latter (it’ll be interesting to see how the planned sequel handles Galactus’ assault on Earth). This really leads to the film’s only weak link, namely its presentation of Doctor Doom. Bereft of his original origin (oh, good grief), powers, background, and (for most of the film) appearance, this is a very poor showing for a character who deserved much better (the comics Doom was a horribly maimed scientist-sorcerer, traumatised by the death of his mother, who chose to encase himself in armour and embark on a ruthless quest for power – it’s a miracle George Lucas didn’t get sued by Marvel). As it is Doom comes across as a poor amalgam of Magneto and the Green Goblin, who appears to go bad simply so the Fantastic Four can fight someone in the last reel.

But anyway, this is very solid stuff, at least as good as the first X-Men movie. Thoroughly enjoyable and a nice change of pace from most of the summer’s other movies, this isn’t quite the absolute delight it could have been, but it’s still well worth a look for comics fans and normal people alike.

(Another one for the ‘over-generously reviewed’  file, no doubt…)

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