With the upcoming reboot of the Fantastic Four, I thought it would be interesting to go back and look at the beginning of the movie franchise. No, I am not talking about the 2005 film, I watched the 1994 Roger Corman low budget film that never officially saw the light of day.
In the 80’s and 90’s everyone wanted to see their favorite comics on the big screen. Wizard magazine would even do fantasy casting with well-known actors in big budget comic productions. I remember flipping through one day and seeing the first photos of the cast of the Fantastic Four dressed in the blue and white with a 4 on the chest. Every comic fan at the time got excited, only to have it hid away. I recently got curious about what happened to the film, and ,to my surprise, it is on YouTube.
Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom are in college and have an experiment with a passing comet. The experiment fails and Reed thinks it kills Victor, but it leaves him severely scarred. Ten years later Reed and Ben Grimm have a spacecraft they are going to try out and decide to take along Sue and Johnny Storm, whom they have known since they were kids. They are hit by cosmic rays and the craft crashes. A diamond that was needed for the craft had been swapped out for a fake. The cosmic rays give each super powers, and after being captured by Doom’s men, they escape and return to the Baxter Building only to have Ben get angry and leave. He joins a group of homeless men who live in the home of the Jeweler, the one who stole the diamond. Doom needs the diamond for his laser canon, and comes after it. The Jeweler and Doom’s men fight and Ben ends up escaping back to the Baxter Building. They decide they have to stop Doom and go to his castle. They defeat Doom, stop the laser canon, and Reed and Sue marry.
The acting in the movie was not bad. The actors worked with what they had, and some of the dialog is hard to listen to. The costumes are about as close as you could come to the real thing. They did not try to reinvent the wheel, like other franchises have done, they tried to stick close to the comic. The story is not bad either. There are a lot of comic elements in there with the origin, and even Ben changing from rock to person as he did early on in the comics. They kept the story simple and did not try to cram too much in there.
The special effects are awful. When Mr. Fantastic stretches, he looks like Freddy in the original Nightmare on Elm Street when he stretches across the alley. It looks like it sags awkwardly and not very flexible. The Human Torch’s effects are cringe worthy, and the Invisible Woman was just that, not even on the screen. For a super hero movie, they could have had a bigger budget. $1 million is not a big movie budget and they could have spent that on the CG and had a more visually impressive movie.
The Things “rock” costume is ugly and awful. Words cannot even describe the problems with it.
$1 Million was the budget for the movie, and it shows. They could have easily got financing for $5 million plus. If it would have been a theatrical or home video release, it would have easily made $20 Million.
I would recommend any fan of the Fantastic Four to watch it. Overall I would say I enjoyed it more than the two that came after. Hopefully the new film will be on par with the bar that the Marvel Universe has set. I hope Fox can do what they did with the X-Men.