Plot: What’s it about?
Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffold) is a genius. He has incredible ideas and a brilliant mind, but he lacks the funds to make his concepts a reality. He sees the chance of a lifetime when a massive solar flare is soon to appear, a chance to rake in funds and solidify his reputation. But when a grant is turned down, he is left with only one option, his old friend Victor (Julian McMahon). Victor has cash to burn and a reputation some would kill for, the kind of status Reed dreams of. The plan is approved, but Richards will be joined by his ex Sue (Jessica Alba) and her brother Johnny (Chris Evans), in addition to his own pilot, Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis). The mission puts the crew right in the center of the flare, but the craft is hit with much more radiation than expected. The crew survives, but when they return, strange changes have occurred…
Thanks to the success of films like X-Men, Hollywood has become obsessed with comic books, with more and more films using them as source material. We’ve seen X-Men, Daredevil, Elektra, The Punisher, Hellboy, and even Sin City, so of course, the Fantastic Four was a given. Now we all know about the version from Roger Corman, but this is big budget, no holds barred version. I loved the classic Fantastic Four comics, but I didn’t expect much from this, as the casting seemed odd and I figured this first film would be like a foundation. In other words, a lot of basic narrative, put into place for future installments to build off. I was right, as this movie covers a lot of ground, but doesn’t go too deep. The problem is that so much time is burned with exposition, the entertainment value is not what it could have been. I still had fun at times, but this could have been so much better. This Blu-ray edition sports an impressive visual transfer, but fewer supplements than the DVD release. Even so, the improved transfer is sure to lure in fans, as presentation is more important than extras. I’d still recommend this as a rental, but if you have the option, go with this Blu-ray edition.
Video: How does it look?
Fantastic Four is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is the first movie I’ve watched in Blu-ray and while quite impressive, the transfer is as good as I expected. The image is clean and sharp, but lacks the pop I expected from a new format. I was dazzled by some of the first HD-DVD releases I watched, but this transfer didn’t measure up to that level. I saw edge enhancement in a number of scenes, while contrast was a little dark, so detail is lessened at times. Even with those flaws, the visuals look quite good, with much more depth and refinement than seen on the DVD transfer. The colors look bright and yield the intended scope, while overall, detail is high and vivid. While this wasn’t the eye opener I hoped for, the movie looks good and fans of the movie should be satisfied.
Audio: How does it sound?
I thought the DTS soundtrack on the DVD was good, but the new DTS HD 5.1 master loss less track leaves it in the dust. The flick has constant surround presence and not usually subtle, as the material seems to have power to burn in all scenes. The real heat kicks in when the action picks up, with explosions and blasts that rock the speakers with immense power. The directional presence is incredible, with all kinds of spatial movement and tracking that really add to the experience. And if you like bass, you will fall love with this soundtrack, as the bass is deep and hard throughout. All this power never obscures dialogue in the least however, as vocals are clear and never buried. This disc also includes a Spanish soundtrack, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The only supplements brought over are an audio commentary track and the film’s theatrical trailer. The audio commentary has all the major cast members involved, so the track is brisk and has a lot of humor, though not too much substance. But a lot of folks prefer these lighter sessions, as they’re easier to listen to and often have humorous production stories. So we have what amounts to a fun track, with a lot of people talking, but insight is minimal here. While I was pleased to see some extras ported over, this seems like too little given the price involved, so value isn’t high here.