Fantastic Four (2005) - Widescreen Edition

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Fantasy / Science Fiction / Thriller
Fox || PG13 - 110 minutes - $29.99 || December 6th, 2005
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2005-12-08


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Tim Story
Writer(s): Jack Kirby (characters by) & Stan Lee (characters by), Michael France (written by) and Mark Frost (written by)
Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington


Theatrical Release Date: July 9th, 2005


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Cast Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Fantastic Four Video Diary
  • Making of Fantastic Four
  • Fantastic Four: Making a Scene
  • Fantastic Four: Casting Session
  • Music Video
  • Trailers


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

When I first saw Fantastic Four, I truly was bored out of my mind. Now I am a comic book geek. I loved Batman Begins, Superman and Spider-Man 2, really liked both X-Men movies and Blade II but Fantastic Four just was anything but fantastic. Truly, the movie did not change for me a bit so you can read my original review:

Fantastic Four? More like Mundane Four or Fantastic Bore. Like how fire heats from Johnny Storm's core, it is the core that made this just an all around bad movie.

Fantastic Four is about five scientists/astronauts/businessman who travel to space in order to try experiments on a radioactive vapor. What happens next will boggle your mind... Ok, maybe not. The vapor reaches their space station quicker than anticipated and each of the crew is affected in some way or another by it (based on where they were when it happened).

The smarty-pants, but emotionally inept leader, Reed Richards (Gruffudd; King Arthur) can manipulate his body and make it stretch like rubber or Playdo; his former girlfriend, Susan Storm (Alba; Honey) can turn invisible using her emotions; her brother Johnny can turn his entire body into fire; strong-arm and Richards' best pal Ben Grimm (Chiklis; TVs "The Shield") turns into a rocks (including his internal organs); and billionaire Victor Von Doom (McMahon; TVs "Nip/Tuck") has a body of metal. When each of the first four go public (no fault of their own), the star stud of them all, Johnny, decides to give them names... Richards is Mr. Fantastic, Susie is The Invisible "Girl", Grimm is The Thing and he is The Human Torch.

While the "Fantastic Four" work in a lab to find a way to reverse their conditions, Victor has his own problems beyond the metal scar forming on his face... his business is in financial trouble after the disaster in space and is open to being taken over leaving him broke and powerless. Like any comic book villain, Victor doesn't see the good side of what has happened to him and as he is already an adversary to Richards, Doom blames him for what has happened.

The problem I have with the Fantastic Four is not the cast particularly, though I do think they could've done better than Gruffudd and Alba, but instead it's the uninteresting direction from Tim Story, the master behind such summer blockbusters like Barbershop and Taxi. Wa hoo. However, the most noticeable failure was the god awful dialogue written by apparent Marvel screenwriter fave Michael France (Hulk, The Punisher) and "Twin Peaks" creator Mark Frost.

As per the requirement with many ensemble movies, you must have that character who utters the obnoxiously unfunny or eye-rolling lines... Now, having never read the comic book, I assume that the Johnny Storm character is pretty close to what was seen on screen, which only tells me that not everything can be adequately translated from [comic] book to screen.

While Fantastic Four is not on the same level of crapiness as the uber-retarded Batman & Robin, I can't say that the film is any good either. Would it hurt you to actually see it? No. It's definitely not terrible and indeed there were a couple of good things about it. The effects work when The Thing takes on a semi was pretty cool (though the camera seemed to cut away too quickly...) and the elastic Mr. Fantastic's arm stretch work wasn't as bad as I had feared. Unfortunately, the rest of the effects were either very average. The outer space scenes, for instance, looked like something seen on a Discovery Channel special or even in 1998's dismal scifi TV adaptation, Lost in Space. It's now seven years later and the effects don't seem to be anywhere near better (though they might have gone the same cheap route as they did with the director).

The cast themselves, are alright with the exception of one. But, being the overly positive fellow that I am, I will start with the good. Although I don't feel Gruffudd or Alba were the best choices, they still performed well with the script they were given. Rising star Chris Evans, who was good in last year's Cellular, is fine as the wise-cracking youngster Johnny who believes his new given powers can propel him to stardom and popularity. Lastly, Michael Chiklis is good enough underneath the padding and make-up, but even The Thing is no match for Ron Perlman's turn as Hellboy.

The downside to the cast was the part of the villain, a character that should be both scary and effective in his/her evilness. Sadly, both the character of Dr. Doom and Julian McMahon who played him, were (at best) bland. While villains in other superhero films like Spider-Man or even Lex Luthor in the original Superman, were at least campy at times, Doom was neither funny/campy nor scary in the least.

Fantastic Four may not be a terrible film, but it certainly was not any good either, in fact, it was simply a bad film. Usually I can step back and think it has potential to get better. Well, perhaps it can, but the sequel (if there is one) will have a lot to overcome. If Fox can get a director who knows what he/she is doing and screenwriter's who can churn out dialogue that works with the plot, then maybe this franchise has a chance.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Yet another Fox DVD which'll be released in a few months with some more features, and quite frankly, even if you were a fan of the movie (and enjoy special features, what's offered here isn't worth it. Commentary aside, most of these features are merely window dressing, things to fill the back cover of the DVD.

Cast Commentary - Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis and Ioan Gruffudd provide a lively, entertaining track with a good mixture of fun with trivia or stories from the set. Alba recounts how much she did not like doing the bridge scene (where she gratuitously appears in her undies... no complaints here however); Chiklis talks about the Thing suit while Gruffudd had issues keeping an American accent when new pages would come to him (and thus kept him strictly on script, no ad-libbing). Not the most memorable commentary, but still a fun listen which is all I ask for. On a side note, the DVD's back cover also says Chris Evans and Julian McMahon were apart of the track... which, unless they're VERY shy, were not on there.

Deleted Scenes - Much like the three scrawny scenes provided on the Mr. & Mrs. Smith DVD, these have no value at all. First, Reed takes a plant (seen on the spaceship) and tests it in his nifty machine; the second has Reed and Sue in a planetarium, recalling the good days (this was also mentioned early on in the movie); and the last is a dumb (and poor looking) wink-nod to X-Men as Mr. Fantastic morphs into Wolverine (even as a comic fanboy, this was stupid).

Fantastic Four Video Diary - Produced by Alba, a camera follows the cast around the world as they promote this latest Hollywood blockbuster. At close to 20-minutes, it's a decent length and certainly shows the friendliness of the cast with each other with some goofing around. You also get to see behind the scenes as they're interviewed with various reporters, getting the same type of questions like "Who do you play?" and "What was *such and such* like?". I will say that if Alba weren't so cute, I might find her a tad obnoxious at some points, however.

Fantastic Four: Making a Scene - This 7-minute featurette, originally made for the Fox Movie Channel, gives a glimpse at the Broklyn Bridge scene where they reproduced the bridge on a stage and made the entire thing happen using blue screen and other special/visual effects work.

Fantastic Four: Casting Session - Another FMC featurette with interviews talking about the wonderful casting with the typical kiss-butt elements trying to lure more people to the theater, explaining each character and what's so great about the movie overall.

Also included on the disc are two music videos, a teaser and trailer.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

With all the crap from Fox DVDs (talking about the double-dipping), I am glad there's the DTS track which gives the film some extra richness in sound and although it's not the best I've heard, it's still quite good. Also provided is the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, which is also fine. The picture is presented in anamorphic widescreen with crisp, comic book colors bleeding through.



.::OVERALL::.

I decided to give the Fantastic Four another chance on DVD, hoping that maybe I was wrong, maybe the movie wasn't as bad as I remembered it... unfortunately nothing changed. The story, pacing and direction were all off with casting being the "best" part (although Chiklis, I agree with Stan Lee on this, was born to play The Thing).

If you're a fan of the film and don't mind minimalist features, you can pick this up for a low price but wait a few months and you'll get a better set.