A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Fantastic Four includes loud and explosive violence. The astronauts' encounter with the radioactive cloud is rendered in frightening, fiery images, and the Thing's transformation from human to rock is potentially alarming. Fights between the superheroes and archenemy Dr. Doom show bodies slammed into or through walls and thrown out windows; the Human Torch engages in extreme sports (snowboarding and motocross) and implied sexual activity (following one encounter, he appears wearing only a girl's pink parka to cover his genitals), Susan wears cleavage-revealing outfits, and someone remarks on one superhero's elongated body parts. The film also includes a couple of multi-car crashes occur, several injuries that draw blood, and a scene where the police shoot at the Thing (bullets bounce off him).
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In this film version of the Marvel comic FANTASTIC FOUR, egotistical Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon) finances a mission into outer space in which four of his employees are zapped by a radioactive cloud that alters their DNA according to their sense of self. Romantically wishy-washy Reed (Ioan Gruffudd) turns elastic, his feeling-ignored girlfriend Susan (Jessica Alba) turns invisible, her hotheaded brother Johnny (Chris Evans) becomes the "human torch," and Reed's best friend and enforcer, Ben (Michael Chiklis), gets stony. Von Doom is also zapped, and his body slowly changes to a human-metallic alloy. When he loses control of his billion-dollar corporation, he decides to take his revenge on The Fantastic Four. He sets out to eliminate them one by one, beginning, so he thinks, with the emotionally insecure and physically unstoppable Ben.
Is it any good?
This unevenly paced, disjointed comic book movie, lacks emotional focus, but then again, maybe that's the point -- it's a campy comic book movie. Fantastic Four offers a series of "origin story" scenes, in which the four heroes' individual interests and anxieties are established, with much attention to movie and product franchising.
While it should be accelerating with spiffy action and smart repartee, Tim Story's movie becomes increasingly incoherent. The Four fight amongst themselves and take off for separate adventures, occasionally coming together for unbelievably convenient collisions. Ben's story is the most compelling, while the others' issues become repetitive. The film also includes its share of logical inconsistencies, as well as overly familiar and underdeveloped themes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how superpowers change the characters' lives in Fantastic Four, as they must decide how to use them, for public good, for personal gain, or to settle personal grudges. How are anxieties, competitions, and quarrels exacerbated by these changes?
How is Susan's situation different from the men's, as she feels the need to mediate their arguments?
How do the four friends learn to appreciate their differences as well as their similar situations, as "freaks," celebrities, and heroes?
What is the appeal of superhero movies? How does this one compare?
- In theaters: July 8, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: December 6, 2005
- Cast: Chris Evans, Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis
- Director: Tim Story
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of intense action, and some suggestive content
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.