A generally faithful comic-book adaptation that would have been impossible to make before the advent of computer-generated imagery, Fantastic Four does right by its four-color inspiration. Screenwriter Mark Frost deviates in small ways from the printed-page paradigm created in 1961 by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, but his script retains the comic's essence, especially its flamboyant approach to action. While working in a space station, research team members Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), Sue Storm (Jessica Alba), Sue's younger brother Johnny (Chris Evans), and Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) are buffeted by cosmic rays that alter their molecular structures in various ways and give them super powers. Reed discovers he can stretch his body almost without limit; Sue gains the ability to disappear and bend light waves into force fields; Johnny becomes the Human Torch at will; and poor Ben acquires incredible strength, although he is also transformed into an inhuman-looking Thing. The team's sponsor, industrialist Victor Von Doom (Nip/Tuck's Julian McMahon), having also survived the cosmic rays, undergoes not only a physical metamorphosis but an emotional one as well, turning evil as a result of his inability to cope with the changes to his body. As is usually the case with movies intended to inaugurate a series, Fantastic Four takes quite a while to introduce its characters and flesh out their relationships before progressing to the major action. But director Tim Story makes the exposition interesting in its own right; when the Four finally use their powers in unison for the first time -- in an extended sequence set on the Brooklyn Bridge -- we already know how they feel about each other and how they will react in a crisis situation. Frost's principal contribution to the Lee-Kirby mythos is a romantic triangle: Von Doom (shortly to become known as Doctor Doom) initially has romantic designs on Sue, who has broken up with Reed prior to the beginning of the story. This lends a personal dimension to the inevitable conflict that follows. The movie's outstanding special effects make the Four's most implausible feats quite believable, especially the Human Torch's flying scenes and use of flame. And our hats are off to Chiklis, who spends most of the movie smothered in his bulging Thing costume, which perfectly resembles the character as drawn by Kirby but is a less than ideal medium for emoting.