Marvel continues to pull the superheroes out of their long line of comics to toss onto the big screen. Hardly the best of their lot, the Fantastic Four are campy, goofy characters. They’re still better choices for a summer popcorn movie than some others in this era of adaptations. This is an undeniably fun romp, though not the action-packed epic some might expect.
The script wastes no time in turning the chosen four into their eventual superhero roles. Less than 15 minutes in, the solar storm that turns Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, and Michael Chiklis into the unlikely group hits with spectacular special effects in tow. Their personalities deliver plenty of conflict, though Chiklis as The Thing is the only one who feels truly developed as a character.
The performances are mostly hammy and cheesy, especially Alba’s. The script calls for a number of contrivances, forcing everyone into the right place at the right time. The sequence which first lets the group discover their powers on a bridge rescue stretches all credibility, even in a movie where a guy, well, stretches.
Thankfully, Fantastic Four never takes itself seriously to the point where you linger on issues like that. It’s not trying to be anything other than a mega-budget B-movie about B-grade superheroes. The constant bickering between Evans and Chiklis is always entertaining.
There’s little to the actual story past the transformations however. The film version spends a lengthy amount of time with the Four trying to cure themselves of the affliction, spouting off pseudo-science so ridiculous, it adds to the campy style. Action is brief and spaced out widely. The villain, Victor Von Doom, doesn’t completely come into play until the final action sequence. This doesn’t look like a $100 million movie for most of its running time. The overly blatant product placement doesn’t help either.
For sheer entertainment value, Fantastic Four hits almost everything it needs to. The heroes aren’t the leading choice for a movie, but they come off nicely on screen in their proper forms. The special effects are okay though not great, and yet the campy script saves this from mediocrity compared to the swarm of recent comic-book adaptations. It’s not perfect, but it’s fun. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Movie]
An early Blu-ray effort, Fantastic Four has plenty to offer for fans of the format. The print is clean, with only slight background noise early. Details are beautiful, and the perfectly sharp transfer keeps them that way for the full running time. The transfer does falter by blowing out some of the whites, particularly on the actors’ faces. Minor black crush is detectable in a few scenes, but shadow detail is otherwise excellent. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]
Loaded with impressive audio work, this is a powerful DTS-HD Master track. The solar storm which transforms the Four is an incredible audio feast. The bass delivers a satisfying, deep rumble, and the surrounds kick in constantly. Johnny Storm flies around the sound field, hitting each speaker on his run. There’s a lack of subtle surround use (no lab equipment making noise, etc.), though when called on, this mix delivers. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]
Never mind the fact that Fox released the movie in a two-disc special edition back in June of ’07. All the studio believes you need is a commentary from the five lead cast members and a couple of trailers for this Blu-ray release. [xrr rating=1/5 label=Extras]