The Fantastic Four (1994)

Directed by     Oley Sassone
Written by      Craig J. Nevius and Kevin Rock
Cast            Alex Hyde-White.........Reed Richards
                Rebecca Staab...........Sue Storm
                Jay Underwood...........Johnny Storm
                Michael Bailey Smith....Ben Grimm
                Joesph Culp.............Victor Von Doom
MPAA Rating     Unknown, if rated.
Running Time    Approx. 90 minutes


Sitting on a shelf, somewhere in Hollywood, is Roger Corman's low-budget
adaptation of "The Fantastic Four." Produced last year, the
film was thrown into limbo after a certain Major Studio decided to
explore a bigger-budget version of the popular Marvel Comics comic book.
Someday, maybe, the film will be released and that would both delight
and disappoint fans who have long known that decent adaptations of
Marvel Comics characters are few and far between.

As any boy under sixty knows, The Fantastic Four are super-scientist
Reed Richards, his best-friend and former test-pilot Ben Grimm, Reed's
girlfriend Sue Storm, and her younger brother Johnny.  Together, they
take a ride in Reed's spaceship (don't ask) until something goes wrong
and they all get exposed to "mysterious energies" before crashing back
to Earth.

Once on the ground, they discover they have "super powers." Reed can
stretch like, uh, Plastic Man, Sue can turn herself invisible, and
Johnny can fire fireballs.  Only Grimm gets the raw deal-- he turns into
a super-strong, rocky-skinned creature affectionately known as The

Corman's film faithfully recounts their origin, as described above, and
even issues them costumes!  Finale has the FF battling Dr. Doom, an
armored villain threatening to destroy New York with [insert
eye-rolling] a giant laser.  Also on display is The Jeweler, a Mole Man
knockoff, whose presence has something to do with a super-sized diamond
that Reed has and Doom wants.

With a few exceptions-- such as Doom faking his own death after a failed
experiment with Reed!-- the story rarely strays from the source
material.  Present and accounted-for include Alicia Masters, the Baxter
Building, and, yes, the Fantasticar.  (But where's Willie Lumpkin?)

Credit writers Craig J. Nevius and Kevin Rock for a spartan set-up that
introduces each character without having to resort to an overlong
exposition.  They do err, though, in the origin of Doctor Doom. There is

Director Oley Sassone (who?) keeps the superheroics to a bare minimum.
Johnny throws a couple neat fireballs and "flames on" once.  Sue's
invisibility "trick" is pretty cheesy-- but she projects a pretty-cool
force field.  Reed is a bust; his "super stretching" is used for a
couple *really* long punches and that's about it.  And The Thing gets to
walk through a few walls.  Whoopee.

Hey, rent SUPERMAN II if you want to see a *real* fight.

With almost zero-budget for EFX, the burden of proof rests squarely on
the shoulders of the actors and, to their credit, they perform their
parts handsomely.  Only Joesph Culp is a wash-- he's OK as the
pre-Doctor Doom Doom, but he doesn't have much to do after getting
encased in armor.  Bad speeches and overgesticulating do not a character

Too bad that the production design can't match the enthusiasm of the
actors.  The throne room of Castle Doom is bad, the interiors of the
Baxter Building are worse, and the inside of Reed's spaceship is just
plain awful.  Even bad sci-fi looks better than this stuff.

NOTE:   Film is neither available on video nor in the theaters.

BOTTOM LINE:  Enthusiastic performers and a faithful storyline can't do
much for cheap EFX and a flimsy production design.  Looks lousy, but
still beats THE PUNISHER any day of the week.

Grade:  C-

Copyright 1994 by Michael J. Legeros

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