Scientist Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) wants to study the effects of cosmic rays, but he needs a lot of money to do. After searching for the money practically everywhere, he turns to his old college rival Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon). Naturally we need to have some type of love triangle going on. Enter Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) and the equation is complete.
Victor needs to make money off of this because he doesn’t seem to have enough despite being a billionaire. He agrees to finance the project only if …ue goes along with the team. Another part is that Sue’s brother Johnny (Chris Evans) must command the shuttle. The original pilot Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) is very annoyed by this. The mission hits a side-note when a blast of cosmic ray hits the shuttle affecting our heroes. Reed can stretch his body to the extreme, Johnny can ignite himself, Sue can make herself invisible and Ben develops super-human rock type strength. Victor, especially with a name like Von Doom, develops some type of metallic power and becomes our main villain. The film attempts to deal with the changes our heroes go through and their attempts to stop Doom.
One would think that a movie with so many characters having awesome powers would be exciting and full of energy right? Well, Fantastic Four is about as exciting as watching a pot boil. The film gives us all kinds of potentially exciting scenes but never really decides to do anything remotely interesting with any of those scenes. The film honestly felt like one really LONG trailer that has a few action scenes here and there. No real plot ever becomes too coherent. Possibly this is because we have five major characters to deal with in a short, short film.
The plot is really bad and feels like it was never really completed. We all know that Doom intends to do something terrible. Due to the amount of money he invested into this project, Doom’s company goes under and Doom wants to exact revenge on Reed and his friends for making him poor. The actual acting in the film is nothing really fabulous minus the part played by Michael Chiklis. Jessica Alba, despite being so gorgeous, seemed rather lost in this role. She is suppose to play a genetic researcher, but at the age of 24, can we really believe that this is so? The role of Johnny is played by Chris Evans who did quite fine in the film Cellular. Here Evans seems like the script called for his character to act as boring and stupid as humanly possible.
A couple of decent performances here and there really can’t make up all the negatives that Fantastic Four has. It’s been rumored that a sequel is in development. I certaintly hope that the sequel, like the recent Spider-Man is much better than the first.
Fantastic Four appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2:35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The only minor distraction came from some light edge enhancement. These failed to affect sharpness, however, as the movie consistently appeared crisp and detailed. It presented a nicely tight image at all times and lacked any indications of lessened definition. No concerns with jagged edges or shimmering developed, and I also didn’t notice any form of source defect. Usually a film of this sort would go with basic “comic book” colors or hyper-stylized hues. Surprisingly, Four chose a somewhat golden, subdued palette. It tended toward the quiet but natural side of things and always looked nice. Ultimately I found this to be a very appealing transfer.
The audio tracks are available in Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1, with the DD 5.1 that I listened to sounding loud and noisy almost every moment. It’s not a fault of the audio, mind you, but a conscious decision by the filmmakers to fill almost every moment of audiovisual space with something loud and booming. There is some decent bass response, and, of course, there are the anticipated helicopter flybys, explosions, rocket blasts, and water splashes in the surrounds. The soundtrack does everything one expects it to do in a modern, comic-book, action-adventure movie.
Pretty disappointing amount of features on this disc considering the popularity of the film. This only makes me fear that Fox is planning a double-dip.
- Audio Commentary with Actors Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, and Ioan Gruffudd: All three sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. I went into this one with low expectations considering my disappointment of the film. Luckily, it turned out to be a pretty enjoyable discussion. Chiklis bears the brunt of the load and is largely the reason it ends up as a good commentary. He’s lively, funny and informative. Gruffudd tends to be quiet, while Alba falls in-between the two guys. She chirps “remember that?” too often but she adds enough nice tidbits to make her remarks worthwhile. There’s too much happy talk, and it’s a disappointment fellow actor Chris Evans doesn’t appear, but I think this track stands as enjoyable and reasonably useful.
- Deleted Scenes (2:27): In the Deleted Scene department, we get Reed Tests Plants, Reed and Sue in Planetarium and Reed and Sue Walk and Talk: Wolverine Insert. The latter sounds intriguing but is just a goof; when Reed alters his face to make himself look like the X-Men hero. Plants shows one of Reed’s initial attempts to replicate the cosmic storm. Planetarium is the only one that seems mildly useful, as it adds some depth to the Reed/Sue relationship. It’s an alternate version of an existing scene, though, so it’s not anything remarkable.
- Fantastic Four Video Diary (19:46): The diary starts on June 4, 2005 and follows Alba on the movie’s press tour. We see plenty of the other actors as well, but Alba remains the focus; she even shoots some of it on a small camcorder. I like the idea of this piece and think it gives us a decent idea of how busy the actors are during these activities. However, it all runs together quickly. It’s mostly a lot of smiling and goofing for the camera, so don’t expect a great look behind the scenes.
- Making of Fantastic Four (5:10): In this feature, we see movie clips, behind the scenes shots, and comments from Alba, Chiklis, Gruffudd, producers Ralph Winter and Avi Arad, director Tim Story, visual effects producer Kurt Williams, visual effects supervisors Allan Maglid and Peter Oberdorfer, and actors Chris Evans and Julian McMahon. This program does little more than discuss the characters and story; we get a quick glance at the effects but nothing remotely substantial. It exists as pure promotion and nothing else.
- Making a Scene (8:03): Aired on the Fox Movie Channel, this looks at the film’s bridge sequence and includes remarks from Story, Winter, Williams, writer Mark Frost, associate producer David Gorder, and production designer Bill Boes. It covers the scene’s development and technical issues. Despite a few fluffy moments at the start, this one turns into a reasonably deep and informative piece.
- Fantastic Four:Casting Session: This feature presents notes from Frost, Evans, Alba, Story, McMahon, Gruffudd, Winter, Chiklis and creator/executive producer Stan Lee. They give us some basic notes about the actors and their roles. This comes as a disappointment since I thought we’d get a glimpse of audition tapes. Instead, we simply find a whole lot of promotional nonsense.
- Music Videos: Here we get Everything Burns by Ben Moody featuring Anastacia and Come On, Come In by Velvet Revolver. Burns isn’t a good song, but it’s a more interesting video than usual as it integrates film clips and performance in a comic book setting. On is a much more enjoyable song. The clip uses some comic book pretenses but usually sticks with a boring combination of lip-synch and movie snippets.
- Promos: In addition to both the teaser and theatrical trailers for Four, we get a promo for the animated Avengers flim.
- Inside Look At X-Men 3: Here, we get a preview of X-Men III. We hear from producer Avi Arad as he gives us some clues as to what we’ll get from the new flick. We don’t see any film footage, though, so this piece is a tease.
Given my affection for Marvel superheroes, I hope that the second Fantastic Four movie improves upon this one. I doubt it can be worse than this dull, thin dud. The film lacks spark or excitement. The DVD presents very strong picture and sound and comes with a few extras highlighted by a good audio commentary. Unless you’re absolutely nuts about this film, I can’t recommend the DVD, and not just because I didn’t like Four. Clearly I wouldn’t push new viewers to get it, but even if you know you want to own it, Fox’s track record says you might want to wait. Don’t be surprised if we see a super two-disc edition within six months. I can’t guarantee this’ll happen, but it seems probable. I’d encourage fans should hold out and see if this occurs.
Special Features List
- Commentary by: Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, and Ioan Gruffud
- 3 deleted scenes
- The Fantastic Tour: Exclusive behind-the-scenes home video hosted by the entire cast
- Making of Fantastic Four
- Fox Movie Channel Presents Casting Session & Making A Scene
- Music videos: Everything Burns, Come On Come In, Music
- Exclusive inside look at X-Men 3 – hosted by producer Avi Arad