was a young boy, I have had a strong interest in comic books. In the
past few years many of the comic heroes I read about as a youngster
have become movie heroes. The improvements in computer generated
animation have made it possible to create realistic looking scenes and
events that could only be represented in drawings by comic book artists
thirty years earlier. For Fathers’ Day, I treated myself to a superhero
movie called the “Fantastic Four”. Surprisingly, I found the movie to
be entertaining, for it had an interesting plot, strong
characterization and believable-looking special effects.
The plot is the sequence of events in a story. A good movie needs a good plot if it hopes to make mountains and mountains of money. In the “Fantastic Four” the story was just long enough to cover all the important information that comic book readers expect in an adaptation of a book. It was also short enough to ensure that my butt remained comfortable in the theater seat and that my popcorn and soda pop did not run out. The exciting or action scenes were artfully placed throughout the movie. Sometimes, action and special effects are used to hide the fact that the plot is not good, but this was not the case here. Also, a good movie has smaller stories or “subplots” in it that make the audience more interested in the film. In the “Fantastic Four," the relationships between the heroes and their personal problems are the subplots that the audience will enjoy.
Another important part of an entertaining movie is characterization. A well-developed character has an interesting history or past. For comic book readers, they will already know the histories of the characters, but for non-readers it is important for the moviemakers to “develop” the characters by making the actors say and do different things. In this movie there are many funny moments that help the audience understand the characters. For instance, the characters use their super powers to show their emotions or to solve an everyday problem like hiding a pimple on their face. The characters in this movie are believable and likeable because the director spent his time on characterization.
The special effects in the “Fantastic Four” help to make the movie complete. Although special effects are not as important as a good story and good characterization, they are the icing on the cake. Throughout the movie I was astounded by the realistic special effects. In one scene a giant hole is created in the middle of the Thames River in London, England. The river is drained, and the boats sit high and dry on the riverbed. It is difficult to imagine, but we see it right before our eyes on the big screen. Most of the movies based on comic books have spectacular special effects. Fortunately, in this film they are used appropriately and not overused as is often the case.
Superhero movies may not be for everyone, but they can be entertaining. If you have never seen one and want a good adventure you may want to check out the “Fantastic Four-Rise of the Silver Surfer” when it comes out on video. You do not need to be a “comic-geek” like myself to enjoy of understand it (but it helps). The story is easy to understand, the characters are likeable and the special effects are extraordinary. If you or your family don’t like it, you can blame your nerdy teacher at the PALC.
(June 18, 2007)
(Includes all 2002 to date Weekly Features with descriptions)