Fantastic Four - Blu-Ray Movie Review
|MPEG-2||DTS-HD MA||PG||Ioan Gruffudd|
With superhero/comic book movies have become all the rage with franchises such as Spider-man, Blade, Batman, and X-Men proving themselves both critically and commercially. Fox grabbed the rights to Fantastic Four with the movie hitting screens in mid-2005 and earning an impressive $US330 million worldwide despite a poor critical response from movie critics.
|The Fantastic Four having a chat.|
After exposure to cosmic radiation, four astronauts become the most remarkable, if dysfunctional, superheroes of all time. Reed Richards (Ioann Gruffudd) is Mr Fantastic who develops the amazing talent to elongate his body; Susan Storm (Jessica Alba) is Invisible Woman who not only can become invisible at will but can also render other objects invisible; her brother, Johnny (Chris Evans) ignites into Human Torch, a guy who can shoot fire from his fingertips and bend flame, and Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) turns into The Thing, a hideously misshapen monster with super human strength. Unfortunately, the mission's sponsor has also been transformed - into the world's most lethal super villain – setting the stage for a confrontation of epic proportions.
God it was had to sum up my feelings for this movie. I desperately wanted to like it. The cast are all likable, they all look fantastic (including Jessica Alba of course), and the comic book history has been pretty strong. Unfortunately I am sorry to say that Fantastic Four didn't exactly meet too many of my expectations. There are certainly some nice action scenes - in particular the opening on the space station and the action on the Brooklyn Bridge - but the final battle with villain Victor von Doom is also pretty dull. The acting itself is pretty average with little or no emotion on the characters and, at times, some terrible dialogue. Jessica Alba is gorgeous, but I'm not sure she's the best Sue Storm. The only actor who really lit up the scene is Chris Evans as the Human Torch, he's got some great lines, and great chemistry with the cast. Sadly I think it was the combination of the movie being an origin story and a lack of decent script that ultimately damages the movie beyond repair.
|Jessica Alba - hot!|
But, having said that, there are a couple of things worth mentioning as positives. Firstly the visual effects are quite impressive. The images of Earth from space are breathtaking, the events on the Brooklyn Bridge are fantastic, and the flame effects for the Human Torch are impressive. It's also fair to say that this movie does set up the story well for subsequent movies, and indeed we did enjoy the sequel quite a bit more (expect the review of that Blu-Ray disc soon). I also loved some of the humour in the movie. Perfect example; when on the space station Victor is about to propose to Sue Storm and says "Four words that will change our lives forever..." and then Reed Richards comes in and shouts "The cloud is accelerating!". Another great scene is when Ben Grimm looks into the mirror for the first time when they return from space.
With a runtime of 1 hour 45 minutes MPEG-2 encoded disc is near reference quality - and that’s a remarkable feat as we're reviewing it a year after it was actually released. Anyone who says that MPEG-2 transfers can't scrub up well needs to rethink their knowledge of compression. The colours are vibrant, images sharp and contrast near perfect. If you're looking for a reference quality scene to show off the Blu-Ray format then have a look at the scene on the Brooklyn Bridge from 32:30-39:40. Yes, the CG effects are visible in this scene if you look close enough, but in terms of sharpness and picture quality it is superb.
|Better put on our thinking cap.|
Having said that there are also some scenes which certainly aren't reference quality. As an example there is a scene from 51:52-51:55 which is a brief flyby of some skyscrapers. The image looks super soft, almost DVD quality so we're not sure what happened there. Perhaps the image had been zoomed in from the original framing.
While Fox can be criticised for the lack of extras on their Blu-Ray discs (and this disc is no exception - more on that soon) we certainly can not complain about the audio. They were the first company to use DTS-HD Master Audio, and that is exactly what we get on this disc. Being such a recent movie the use of surround sounds is aggressive, as is the bass, but it never feels over the top and is certainly one of the best audio experiences we've had on the Blu-Ray format. One thing to note is that the PS3 (as with almost every Blu-Ray player on the market) will only output the 'core' DTS 1.5Mbps audio, and not the full DTS-HD MA track. That will (hopefully) come at a later date.
The only subtitle tracks on this disc are for the Commentary, and English for the Hearing Impaired.
|This scene is hilarious...|
With a DVD release jam packed with extras I was hopeful that most would make it onto this Blu-Ray disc. Sadly it seems that this BD-25 (single layer disc) doesn't have the capacity so the documentaries, deleted scenes, trailers and casting session have all fallen by the wayside. Fortunately the best extra of all, the commentary track, has been retained which is something.
Commentary with Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis And Ioan Gruffudd:
This is actually a fairly entertaining commentary. The three cast members obviously get on quite well and they provide quite a few details about filming the movie. Having been recorded a year after filming started the amount of information recalled is pretty impressive. This commentary is worth a listen.
Fantastic Four is a movie I really wanted to enjoy, but it just falls so flat. The acting, the dialogue, the storyline is all well below par. About the only thing it has going for it is the set design and special effects which are pretty spectacular in places. I guess though if you're reading this review you've probably seen the movie, and just deciding if you want to splash out on the Blu-Ray disc. We are happy to report that the disc, both in terms of video and audio, is quite superb and even as one of the earliest Blu-Ray releases still holds up remarkably well today.
Review By: Dave Warner
Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Fox. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.