Fantastic Four Blu-ray delivers great video and superb audio in this enjoyable Blu-ray release
An explosive adventure about a quartet of flawed, ordinary human beings who suddenly find themselves with extraordinary abilities. After exposure to cosmic radiation, four astronauts become the most remarkable, if dysfunctional, superheroes of all time. Unfortunately, the mission's sponsor has also been transformed into the world's most lethal supervillain setting the stage for a confrontation of epic proportions.
For more about Fantastic Four and the Fantastic Four Blu-ray release, see Fantastic Four Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 23, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
It wasn't all that long ago that a comic book superhero based movie was an event. 1978's Superman is perhaps
the best and most cherished of them all, and 1989's Batman also ranks as one of the
finest of the genre. It hasn't been until recently that Hollywood has begun looking in every nook
and cranny of the comic book shop to find any superhero they can take off the page and place
onto the silver screen. Everything from Daredevil and The Shadow to Spider-Man and Iron Man has taken
the leap to the big screen, all with mixed results and reactions. It seems like every time you
check the local multiplex listings, another recognizable comic book title or two are "now showing."
2005's Fantastic Four finds itself smack-dab in the middle of the comic book frenzy, and
as far as the ranking of best to worst comic book superhero(s) movies go, this one is fairly
average. Imagine your typical comic book movie, this time with four heroes, take out quite a bit
of action and replace it with a pseudo-intelligence and sensibility and this is the result.
Fantastic Four seems to want to play out as the "thinking man's" superhero
extravaganza, foregoing a few extra action sequences in favor of technical jargon and superficial
emotions that sometimes work and sometimes do not.
Here's not looking at you, kid.
Fantastic Four has as its premise several scientists and the unbelievably wealthy Victor
Doom (Julian McMahon, Premonition) traveling into outer space to conduct a scientific
Honestly, in this type of movie, it really doesn't matter why these brainiacs are heading up into
space; it's all just a plot contrivance to get them in front of a solar storm that will provide them
their powers. Indeed, the storm arrives some seven hours earlier than expected, and as it rips
through the station, each individual is (unbeknownst to them at the time) gifted with a specific
superhero power. Back on Earth (we're never told just how they came back; it doesn't seem that
they were in any condition to fly), the quintet slowly discover their newfound powers: Sue
Storm (Jessica Alba, The Eye) can generate force fields, become invisible, and is very cleverly
dubbed "Invisible Girl" by her brother; Sue's brother Johnny (Chris Evans, Sunshine) can fly and generate heat approaching the level of a supernova
and is nicknamed "The Human Torch"; Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis, TV's "The Shield") becomes a
larger-than-life, stronger than an ox rock man called "The Thing;" Reed Richards, a.k.a. "Mr.
Fantastic" (Ioan Gruffudd, King Arthur) now has the ability to stretch his body like rubber. Of course,
every hero (or heroes) needs an arch enemy, and Victor Von Doom even has a cool bad guy
name to compliment his newfound status as villain and his metallic body. Before the quartet of
heroes can focus on stopping Doom (and before they realize he is their arch villain), they must
learn to harness their powers (notably Johnny), accept who they now are, and determine just
what happened to make them into heroes ("what if we got these powers for a reason...a higher
Fantastic Four is less of an action movie and more of an origins movie, clearly meant to
be the first in a string of films. The movie is a beginning, about how four people of differing
personalities, philosophies, and motivations cope with the reality that they are changed, different
from the norm, an "oddity" to some, "fantastic" to others. The movie is less about the actual
powers these individuals gain but can be seen as a metaphor for how any life-altering experience
can affect us, those around us, and how we choose to deal with these experiences. The powers
are the story, however, and on the surface provide the backdrop and theme of the movie. Still,
the story is one of understanding the powers rather than abusing them (save for the Johnny
Storm character). There are only two major action sequences in the entire movie, the first not
against an enemy per se but more of a "save the day" type action (think Superman rescuing Lois
Lane and the helicopter in Superman).
One thing I like is that the movie pokes fun at the ridiculousness of its own plot, such as how silly
the costumes look and Johnny wondering where Ben's ("Thing") ears are. It also pokes fun at
superheroes and the superhero film genre itself, such as when the suggestion (in jest) is made
that the uniforms need utility belts. This not only adds a bit of humor to the movie, but grounds
it in reality, the characters living in a world exactly like ours where other superheroes are just
figments of our imagination, ink drawings in a comic book, or images on celluloid. The assembled
cast, especially the "Fantastic Four," has great chemistry together, truly an ensemble worthy of
their namesake. It's not that their acting is first-rate, or that their characters are all that deep,
but as a quartet, they just click, playing off of one another just as we'd expect from a group of
friends. Despite a lack of action, this movie definitely got more right than it did wrong, and set
the stage nicely for a sequel I found more entertaining and superior to this first effort.
Fox's presentation of this 2.35:1 framed version of Fantastic Four in 1080p Blu-ray high
definition is a solid one. Black levels
aren't fantastic, but they are not bad, exhibiting just a hint of gray and looking just the smallest
bit too bright. A very fine grain layer, hardly noticeable in most scenes, covers the entirety of the
film. Nice color reproduction is evident throughout, and this movie is quite colorful. The transfers
appears somewhat soft in places, with less than well-defined edges, but it's still acceptable. It's
mostly the medum-to-long distance shots that exhibit some softness, but the close-ups look fine.
Flesh tones are good, a bit off in a few places, sometimes looking too golden and at other times
too red. Fine detail is evident from the first frame to the last; the intricacies of the uniforms they
wear in space, for example, are impressive. Also impressive are nuances seen throughout, such as
those on a fire truck that is rescued in the film's first big action sequence. It's color is reproduced
wonderfully, and all of the fine details on it are clear. Fantastic Four looks like your
average high-definition transfer, which means it looks better than every DVD out there as well as
many Blu-ray discs, but it doesn't distinguish itself either, failing to stand out from the crowd, but
in this case that means it's good and pleasing to look at. This is another solid effort from Fox.
Fox brings Fantastic Four to Blu-ray with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless sound mix that's, well,
fantastic. The first thing you'll notice is the wonderful and constant presence in the rear channels.
The sound back there is never intrusive, providing only the perfect blend of sound to immerse us in
the movie and leaving our senses satisfied rather than assaulted. The sound is also clear and
well-defined, featuring wonderful imaging, directionality, and flow. Dialogue has a slight harshness
but is otherwise always audible and pronounced. There is some solid, chest-rattling bass in the
early outer space scenes. The scene early in the movie where the storm hits the space station will
blow you away with its power and definition. The footsteps and falls of Thing rumble terrifically, as
does any instance where heavy laboratory equipment is used. In fact, all of the movie's action
sequences (primarily the two major ones) offer an incredible array of sounds as the fronts, rears,
and subwoofer all work overtime to bring you the action. These scenes are immersive and
impressive but not so powerful as to become a distraction, only getting so loud and complex as to
make the action real, and no more. Once again, Fox has not disappointed in the audio department.
Fantastic Four assembles on Blu-ray with precious few extras. A commentary track
featuring actors Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, and Michael Chiklis is the only major supplement on
the disc. Michael Chikils discusses his years
of interest in the Fantastic Four series to start things off, and from there the track evolves into an
informative yet light hearted
listen. Sharing stories from the set, comments on the special effects, and the personalities and
motivations of the characters. As the fan of the series (and the most eloquent), Chiklis takes
charge almost immediately and definitely leads the discussion. This track proves itself to be well
worth a listen. The only other supplements included are 1080p trailers for Fantastic Four
and several other 20th Century Fox films: Behind Enemy Lines, Ice Age, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Planet of the Apes, and Speed.
Fantastic Four is a perfectly competent, mostly entertaining, and fairly typical superhero
movie. The characters share a great camaraderie and contribute to the movie an
enjoyable repartee that eases the viewer into the proceedings. The movie decidedly lacks action but
makes up for that with interesting character studies and a well-paced script. This is by no means
the ultimate comic books adaptation or superhero movie, but it holds its own rather well. This Blu-
ray edition is solid, offering good video quality and an exciting audio mix. The supplemental
materials are slim and may very well prove to be a deal breaker for fans. Nevertheless, the high
quality of the picture and sound quality, combined with a decent movie, make this worth picking up
if the price is right. Recommended.
Fox Home Entertainment has released the official specs for 'Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer', 'Live Free or Die Hard' (Unrated), and 'Diehard Trilogy' Blu-ray releases. 'Fantastic Four' will get AVC 1080p video and DTS-HD MA audio on a BD-50, and is set ...