Flame on!

I liked the Fantastic Four comics – the original ones. Indeed I once owned an issue from the early sixties, bought at a comics fair in the late seventies. I remember it cost me £20. I later sold it to my cousin for £25, possibly to fund a skateboard purchase. I forget.

We used to skateboard down a newly tarmacked slice of road near our school, not too far away from where we lived.

Anyhoo. To the film, which we saw last Thursday if you’re taking notes.

Anyone expecting the film to be anything other than a by-numbers summer superhero blockbuster will be disappointed. They take liberties with the origin story, but then that always happens – and Marvel does it too by rebooting and alternative universes and so on.

There is, thankfully, little in the way of schmaltz – at least relative to recent films (yes, I’m talking about you, Spielberg). Ioan Gruffudd, last seen by me as a surprise celebrity guest in The Play What I Wrote, does a plausible accent but his other acting muscles had a few weeks off, not required. Jessica Alba, blah. Julian McMahon as Victor Von Doom chews scenery as directed. Chris “Human Torch” Evans (as opposed to Chris “Big Breakfast” Evans) seems to spend a great deal of the early part of the film topless, a practice I for one welcome.

Apart from Torchy my other favourite character from the comics was Ben Grimm, The Thing. I don’t recall running round the playground shouting “it’s clobbering time!” and generally being very heavy (I did run round shouting “flame on!” and burning people’s shoes with a magnifying glass), but there was something about The Thing that appealed in the comics. Possibly it was the constant bickering with Torchy, or the fact that he was the most complex character of the bunch. Most likely it was the hat and the trenchcoat. Which make it into the film, I’m glad to say. Michael Chiklis, who plays Ben Grimm in the film, and who I’d never heard of, does pretty well. A shoo-in for Best Actor in a Rubber Suit at next year’s Oscars.

My mate Stan Lee makes his usual cameo, with lines. Our geek-infested preview audience chuckled knowingly. I said “I’ve met him, you know,” out loud. No I didn’t, but I thought about it for a microsecond.

I can confirm that the film rose above my notoriously low-hanging enjoyment threshold. Chris thought it was rubbish, but then he does have the A level.

Avaragado’s rating: four packets of crisps (assorted flavours)

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