Fantastic Four (1994)

June 25, 2011 at 3:31 am Leave a comment

It’s kind of hard to criticize a movie that was never released. At least they had to good sense to not put the movie out in the theaters. Apparently, they never wanted to put this movie out in theaters. It was just used as a placeholder to secure the rights to produce future Fantastic Four movies. Still, the 1994 Fantastic Four movie has gained a certain amount of notoriety, first as a bootleg and later on the internet.  I still could argue that this movie is better than the Fantastic Four movies released 2005 and 2007.

This Fantastic Four movie is widely called “Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four” although Roger wasn’t the director, only a producer. I reviewed one of his movies earlier. If you don’t know who Roger Corman is, he has produced nearly 400 movies over 50 years. Some of them turned out better than others. But to his credit, he got this movie made with a month of principal photography. That’s actually kind of impressive, even for how poor The Fantastic Four is. It was also made for $1.5 million, again, impressive. Even though it was a low budget film that had a lot wrong with it, they really got the best they could out of what they had to work with.

The first thing you will noticed that is wrong with this movie is the special effects. It was made in 1994. These effects would be laughable in 1984. They might have been passable for 1974. No doubt they would have been cutting edge in 1964. 1994 was the same year that saw Jurassic Park come to theaters. I can’t imagine putting out this movie at the same time as that one. The Things costume is obviously foam rubber and more poorly done than the ones in Ninja Turtles 3. You can clearly see where the head piece is suppose to go on. The texture of the costume just doesn’t work for orange rock. Chances are if you see even a clip of this costume in the movie you will end up laughing so hard you’ll have difficulty breathing. Mr. Fantastic’s stretch effects are equably laughable and really must be seen to be believed. The Human Torch’s effects are ok, considering the budget they had to work with. And the Invisible Woman’s effects probably end up better than most, only because there isn’t much difficulty making a woman disappear on camera. Some of the other visual effects are hit and miss. Again, considering the budget it’s a miracle any of the effects work at all. Although would it have been asking too much to give The Thing blue eyes?

Another noticeable failure of the movie is the performances. Since this movie was never meant for release, they didn’t bother to go back and redo some of the dialogue for The Thing and Dr. Doom. So what you get is muffled dialogue from guys in suits who aren’t taking their performance too seriously, probably because they though the dialogue would be ADRed later. Sometimes I think they had William Shatner playing Dr. Doom. The guy they have playing Reed Richard’s is all over the place with his performance. Sometimes he is ok, sometimes he is convincing, and the rest of the time he is hammy. His inflection is all over the place. The woman playing Sue Storm was better than Jessica Alba but that’s not saying much.

I can give some credit to the writing. Unlike the newer Fantastic Four movies, this one stays almost faithful to the source material.  The difference being that they get their powers from some kind of cosmic energy event known as Collasus. I thought he was the Russian guy in the X Men who could turn his skin into steel. Maybe they meant Galactus, eater of world’s. That wouldn’t be the only character they got wrong. The Jeweler looks for all the world to be Mole Man, except they don’t call him Mole Man. The dialogue has some noticeable flaws. It feels like they borrowed as much as possible for the comics and filled in the rest quickly in order to rush the script into production. Probably because that’s exactly what happened.  I will give them credit of staying faithful to the comics,mostly.

The 1994 Fantastic Four is a joke. Even if the filmmaker in me admires how they completed the movie quickly and on a limited budget, I just can’t ignore the giant flaws the movie has. It takes nearly an hour for the character to become the Fantastic Four and even longer for them to start working together as a team, using their powers to fight Dr. Doom and what not. Dr. Doom acts somewhat out of character. Although this movie did have Doom Bots which the newer movies lacked. With a little more time, effort, and money, they might have had a movie suitable for a direct to video release. Perhaps that’s what annoys me most about this movie. It was a wasted opportunity to tell a good story. The people working on it seemed to want to make a good Fantastic Four movie but the limitations were too much to deal with. The new movies didn’t the same kind of heart. Those movies just seemed to be cash cows without a care in the world for what the audience wanted to see from a movie called The Fantastic Four.  That’s irony for you. The movie that the producer’s didn’t give a crap about cared more about getting it right than the movie that cost a few $100 million to make.


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