has an average rating of 5.8 on IMDb
1080p in MPEG-2 on a 25gb disc
DTS HD 5.1 @1.5Mbps
are ports and are missing a lot!
– 106 minutes
Overall Verdict – Bad Flick, Decent Disc
The Movie Itself is directed by Tim Story (director of “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer“). “Fantastic Four“, for those of you who haven’t read the comic books, tells the story of a brilliant scientist named Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd). Richards needs financing for an ambitious project to study the effects of cosmic rays. When he can’t get the bucks anywhere else, he comes hat in hand to the door of his old college rival, billionaire Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon). This becomes doubly humiliating when we meet Victor’s head of genetic research: Reed’s old love Sue Storm (Jessica Alba). After he negotiates a tidy potential profit for himself, Victor agrees to finance Reed’s experiment and let Richards use Von Doom’s space station. However, he does insist that he and Sue go along and also that her cocky brother Johnny (Chris Evans) flies the shuttle. This doesn’t sit well with Reed’s partner and pilot Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), especially since Johnny bombed out of NASA under Ben’s watch. Soon the mission runs into a problem when a blast of cosmic ray hits our heroes. Developing certain abilities, our characters now can turn to flame without warning (Johnny), can become invisible (Sue), can stretch any part of his body to extremes (Reed), can transform into a super-strong rock-like being (Ben) and can control electricity (Doom). The movie follows their attempts to deal with their changes and what they do with them, a subject that becomes more serious when Victor goes nutso and acts in evil ways.
How can a movie with so many cool characters and so much action end up being so incredibly dull? That’s the main problem with “Fantastic Four“. It presents all sorts of potentially exciting scenarios but never does anything satisfying with them. It plods along with loosely connected situations and fails to tie them together in a cohesive or compelling manner. The director’s name, “Tim STORY“, seems particularly ironic given his extreme inability to actually convey a story. In truth, “Four” often feels like a really long trailer. It presents bits and pieces of narrative but rarely dallies long enough to explore them. We get snatches of plot at most, but nothing that ever becomes overly coherent. Some of that stems from the fact that “Four” needs to introduce and establish five major characters.
None of this excuses the exceedingly clumsy plot development even after the movie sets up its characters. We know Doom is upset that his company goes in the tank, blames Reed and wants revenge, but all of this simply turns into an excuse for mayhem. The action becomes oddly irrelevant, as the movie can’t tie together the pieces well enough to make us care. As for our actors, only Evans and Chiklis make an impression. Alba certainly looks great, but she clearly lacks the presence and weight to make us accept her as a genetic researcher. It doesn’t help that at 24, she’s way too young for the role; she should be in the middle of grad school, not leading the way in her field. Gruffudd is also surprisingly young for his part, but at least he looks older. Though he looks the part, he seems lost in the role. At least Evans fills out the role of cocky hotshot Johnny. He provides some of the movie’s few amusing moments with his arrogance and brashness, and he and Chiklis also demonstrate a nice chemistry. Chiklis is able to bring some humanity to his role, no mean feat given that he must do so through a thick layer of laytex. A couple of decent performances can’t redeem this dull movie. Fantastic Four certainly had a ton of potential, and perhaps its sequel will manage to become more satisfying. I sure can’t imagine the sequel will demonstrate a dip in quality, as this flick is a snorefest.
Video Quality on this release is 1080p in MPEG-2 on a BD-25 Single-Layered Disc. This disc doesn’t look “fantastic” per se, but does look pretty good especially considering this is only a BD-25 disc. The film’s print benefits from a recent release as it contains no real evidence of dirt, grain or pixilation. Color usage is also great as the darker blacks give the film a nice sense of detail. Normally films like this would go with a basic ‘comic book’ use of colors. Fantastic Four used more of a golden, somewhat subdued palette, which was a nice touch on Fox’s part.
There was a bit of edge enhancement, but these failed to affect sharpness. The movie consistently appeared crisp and detailed throughout. It presented a nicely tight image at all times and lacked any indications of lessened definition. A slight possible problem for some may be that some sequences, particularly the laboratory sequences, felt a bit too dark lacking any sense of detail. I only noticed this here so I can’t really call it a huge disappointment.
Audio Quality on this release is DTS HD 5.1. 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. We do get the standard helicopter flybys, explosions, rocket blasts, and water splashes in the surrounds. Speaking of all these effects, the soundfield in the film was excellent throughout creating a real sense of a ‘you’re there’ feeling. As The Thing pounds and yells, I wondered if he was outside booming and pounding. As I mentioned above with the example of surround usage, I was quite impressed with the deep bass all the surrounds produced. The bass hit just the right note during the quieter sequences and definitely boomed during the more action packed scenes. Dialogue was also well placed with no real evidence of muddled performance. As a quick note this was one of Fox’s first Blu-Ray releases. All in all this is a solid effort from them.
- 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.
- Trailer: A nice touch here with the film’s Theatrical Trailer being presented in full 1080p glory.