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. In my original review, I said a Special Edition was probably in the works and now, we have this two disc Extended Edition. The over twenty minutes of added footage really works well, giving the movie more depth and substance. The film is still not as fantastic as it should be, but fans will greatly appreciate this new extended version. When you factor in the added footage plus a slew of new supplements, I think an upgrade is in order, or at least a rental of this new release.
Video: How does it look?
Fantastic Four is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Same transfer as before, but no complaints. As should be the case with such a recent release, the source print looks totally pristine and this transfer shows no traces of compression flaws, which provides a stable visual base. The film’s colors come across well here, with rich hues and no signs of discoloration, as well as natural and consistent flesh tones. Just as impressive is the contrast, with a high level of detail and very well balanced black levels. This movie needed a superb visual transfer and as usual, Fox has more than delivered the goods.
Audio: How does it sound?
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is the inferior of the soundtracks found here, but fear not, as it still sounds terrific. But as good as it sounds, the track falters when stacked up against the dynamic DTS option. This soundtrack opens up the material, which means action scenes are more explosive, while even reserved sequences have more presence. The small touches, the kind of subtle details that add to the atmosphere, which can make the experience more immersive, all come across well here. I was blown away by some of the more audio intensive sequences, so fans are in for a real treat here. This disc also includes a Spanish language track, as well as subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
On the first disc, we have two audio commentaries, the first of which is the theatrical version’s track as found on the previous release. 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. As you watch the extended edition, you can turn on optional comments from director Tim Story, who is joined by producers Avi Arad and Kevin Feige, as well as writers Michael France and Mark Frost. This one proves to be more substantial and packs in a lot of information, but isn’t as much as fun to listen to as the first track. Also on the first disc are some deleted scenes, a couple of promotional looks at the film’s sequel, three television spots, and the film’s teaser and theatrical trailers.
Now we move on to the second disc, which is loaded with worthwhile supplements. Heroes are Born is an over ninety minute look inside the production, packed with interviews with prominent cast and crew. This isn’t quite the pull the curtain piece as it could have been, but you’ll find plenty of interviews and footage from the shoot. A little promotional in nature, but still solid and covers a lot of ground production-wise. If you’re a fan of the comic books, you’ll love The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine, an hour look at the Fantastic Four’s rise in the comic book world. In addition to images from the comic over the years, you’ll hear from various artists involved with its creation and evolution. Jack Kirby: Storyteller is up next and spends over an hour looking at the career of this comic kingpin. These two documentaries could easily sell DVDs on their own, so to have them included as a bonus, raises the value of this release through the roof. Rounding out the second disc are three brief, but interesting featurettes, still galleries, and some multi-angle scene studies.