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Fantastic Four: “You Safeguard the Earth, We Will Play”

Fantastic Four: “You Safeguard the Earth, We Will Play”

Posted August. 11, 2005 03:05,   


Unlike “Batman Begins” or “Spiderman,” the Fantastic Four does not pretend to carry profound meanings dealing with serious themes like self-identity and the relationship between individuals and society. This movie lightly and humorously describes “ordinary people” who are at a loss about sudden changes caused by supernatural power. You would be close, if you imagine the situation in which the characters of “Sunpung Sanbuingwa,” a popular Korean sitcom, have super powers.

Reed (played by Ioan Gruffudd), a genius astrophysicist, his former girlfriend Sue (Jessica Alba), Sue’s brother Johnny (Chris Evans), who is an astronaut, and Reed’s long-time colleague, Ben (Michael Chiklis) all happen to be irradiated while doing a solar wind experiment in a space station owned by Victor (Julian McMahon). Returning to the earth, they experience sudden changes. Reed’s body extends like rubber; Sue becomes an invisible person; Ben gains enormous power with his body changing like a stone; and Johnny becomes a fireball and flies around. Even Victor, who was given a cold shoulder by investors because of the failed experiment, sees his body become stronger than titanium and harder than diamond.

The message of the movie: “We might have given too much of a burden to superheroes. There is no obligation to fight against social evils and safeguard the earth just because they have super powers. If they flirt with girls with their powers, what is wrong with that?” As Johnny, who is reckless but knows how to enjoy life, said, super powers are just “cool.”

The Fantastic Four focuses on situational episodes, just like a sitcom, rather than on storyline. Most of the episodes are about the process in which the characters find their newly given powers and the resulting funny outcomes. Johnny’s body is transformed into a fireball while he is snowboarding on a snow-covered mountain. He ends up making an outdoor hot bath by melting snow around him. Ben tries to call his wife, but his thickened finger pushes three or four buttons at a time.

The way the movie deals with super powers is as light as in a sitcom. Johnny bluntly laughs at Reed when Reed opens a door by inserting his hand, as if it is flour dough, into the one-millimeter space between the closed door and threshold. Reed hits Ben’s knee with a hammer used in a construction site for medical purposes to conduct a conditioned reflex experiment on Ben’s stone-like body. Super powers are their abilities and personalities, just a singer’s singing skill and an actor’s acting ability. None of them wants to become a hero. They are content with being somewhat famous stars.

The same is true of the villains of the movie. Unlike Goblin in “Spiderman” and Ra`s Al Ghul of “Batman Begins,” there is no prevailing individual resentment or grudge. Victor wants no one else to have super powers other than him in the world, which is similar to what silly villains want in a sitcom. This is a sign of a timid and a childish mind. For this reason, their final showdown looks like a slightly unfair four-on-one wrestling match, with the big meaning of confrontation between good and evil demonstrated in a variation disappearing.

Fantastic Four is not bothered by superheroes coming out of their dark mansions, unmasking themselves and getting cheers from the people. The movie represents a perspective with which the light and cheerful pop culture of today interprets serious and heavy heroes of the past.

Jessica Alba, one of the most promising actresses in Hollywood, positioned herself as the sexiest female superhero since Wonder Woman, showing off her perfect S-shaped bodyline.

The movie will be released on August 11 and is rated for 12-year-olds and up.

Dong-Yong Min mindy@donga.com