July 09, 2005

entry, July 8, 2005

Sandra and I drove to the theater this morning while her Mom and Dad watched our kids. We don't get out much together, and it was nice. Nicer still, Fantastic Four was good (more on that shortly). We got back, unloaded the groceries from TurboSchlock (my cyber-green 2003 Beetle GLS Turbo, Utah license plate "SCHLOCK"), and I sat down to write this.

There were two emails in my mailbox that grabbed my attention. Pepsi wanted me to enter a contest to win a new cyber-green New Beetle (not a turbo, though), and Fandango wanted me to buy tickets to see Fantastic Four. It amused me quite a bit that the things they wanted to tantalize me with, I already HAD. I'm living the dream, people. Living the dream...

Okay, the movie: I went in with low expectations. I expected The Thing to seem too small, Doctor Doom to seem ridiculous, Jessica Alba to not be able to act her way out of a wet paper bag, and me to leave the theater disappointed.

This, as it turns out, is a great frame of mind to be in. I loved the movie. Jessica Alba made it out of the paper bag just fine, Doctor Doom was twisted rather than ridiculous, and The Thing was perfect.

Yeah, you heard me right. PERFECT. Sure, they could have made him look much bigger and stronger if he'd been a purely computer-generated creation, but then Michael Chiklis would not have had the opportunity to make The Thing live, breathe, emote, and clobber, and that would have been a crime. He made the movie for me. I need to eat these words right here, oh yes I do.

If you've read the early Fantastic Four comics, you know that the frictions within this erstwhile "team" of superheroes are critical to their identity. They don't have secret identities to hide behind, some of them are already famous, and when they get cosmically irradiated public opinion is divided as to whether they're heroes or freaks. At the core of the story is the fact that Ben Grimm resents having been turned into The Thing.

The movie is very true to the spirit of the comics. Sure, they played fast and loose with some of the canon, but it worked. The characters were people, not two-dimensional stand-up posters.

There were a few things that didn't work. Ioan Gruffud (age: 31) was NOT convincing as the white-templed Doctor Reed Richards. Spritzing a little white into his hair was not enough. And when he warned Johnny Storm away from getting too hot, saying "you could light the atmosphere on fire and destroy the earth," the only explanation I could come up with was that he was an idiot. Sure, some of the Manhattan Project scientists worried that nuclear explosives would do just that, but they were a) wrong, and b) responsible for creating explosions that were hotter than the temperature Reed cited by a factor of fifty*.

There were a few other groaners, the worst of which was the lack of either a) weightlessness, or b) an explanation for the apparent gravity aboard the station. The LEAST they could have done is said "how do you like your magnetic boots?" and then had everyone walk funny.

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Treat Gruffud with some Oil of Anti-Olay, and have Johnny Storm fire the science writer (rimshot! sorry about that), and a sequel could be even better.

(*Note: Reed cited the "danger" temperature as either 5,000 or 6,000 Kelvin -- I forget which. Within 10 meters of the Hiroshima detonation, it is estimated that temperatures exceeded 300,000 Celsius, or 300,273 Kelvin. 6,000 goes into 300,273 fifty times, and you can keep the change. )