47 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2007
I'll be honest...this movie doesn't need an "extended cut" version...sure it's a fine movie, but most of you already have an acceptable version of it, and an extra 20 minutes of footage is fine, but to most of us, not quite enough to justify buying an entire other DVD version of it...
So WHY am I reviewing this version of the DVD as a 5-star "MUST BUY" version? SOLELY because the "extras" DVD has a feature reflecting and honoring JACK "KING" KIRBY, the man/legend who co-created the entire Marvel universe (among other superheroes), with Stan Lee, but got almost NONE of the credit (or money) that Stan did...
KIRBY was a creative FORCE for both Marvel and DC comics over his lifetime career, and not only was he the world's greatest comic book creator and artist, but an amazingly warm, wonderful person, family man, and treated his fans as if they were close friends...never in the world was a man more deserving of a documentary than Kirby was, and while it should've been included in the original release, this feature alone is WELL worth watching and well worth as well the cost of buying this DVD...you will NOT be disappointed by watching the KIRBY documentary...he WELL deserves this honor, and it's VERY interesting for comic fans and non comic fans alike...
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2005
First off, I am amused by all the people who try to dissect this film saying how thin the plot is, how cheesy the characters are, and how bad the special effects are. Its based on a comic book people! Not to mention a comic that is over 40 years old! I challenge anyone to read the '60s comics and say that they're NOT the cheesiest thing they've ever read. This comic was as generic as generic can be. Just look at the names of the characters: Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, The Human Torch, The Thing, Dr. Doom. Not very creative.
Not very creative, but very fun. It captured the imagination of people back then and after 40 YEARS it has turned these characters into beloved icons. That's where I think people are being unfair to this movie. They're expecting all 40 years of character development into 1 hr. and 45 minutes worth of film. It's a beginning, an origin. We see how these characters know each other, how they attain their powers, and how they choose to deal with them at a very early stage. Do we see the intensity of their relationships, the bonds that unite them so strongly? Not so much. But they've just come together. They've just formed the team. They need time. Which is, again, what 40 years of comics give them that 1 movie can't.
I've always looked at The Fantastic Four as cheesy or goofy. From their names to their powers (Reed's stretching for example) to the situations they're put into. And yet, its still fun. From The Thing and Torch's banter, Reed and Sue as husband and wife, and the overall family atmosphere between all four of them.
So to me, this film lives up to all of that. Unlike recent comic book films (Batman, Spider-man, X-men, Hulk), it doens't take itself too seriously. It reminds us that comic books are fun and so is this movie. I've heard people say that this film doesn't live up to the "iconic" characters that are The Fantastic Four. Well, I say it took years for these characters to become "iconic" and that if you read the first 10 issues or so of the comic book, nobody would be praising it these days. So just let the movie be itself and entertain people, which I believe it does very well.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2006
I missed the Fantastic Four, aka FF in the theatres and as any self-respecting Marvel comic fan, had to watch the DVD in spite of the mixed reviews I'd heard.
The good news is: the movie is watchable. It's not perfect, and I still rate the X-men and the Incredibles ahead of this. The effects are well crafted, and much thought has been put into the visual approach.
What else is good about this: Great casting of Von Doom (Julian McMahon of Nip/Tuck) and Chris Evans as the Human Torch. Jessica Alba looks great too.
What could have been better: This entire film was more like an introduction to the Four rather than a complete movie experience. Sometimes feels like a TV show. Since a sequel is in the works, we'll just have to wait.
Weak Chink for me: Mr Fantastic is pretty average. And Dr Doom's origins are less compelling than the real comic book Dr Doom.
As some reviews say above, the Fantastic Four isn't about characterisations, and yet, one feels that the chemistry of the four could've been tweaked up a notch instead of falling back purely on the comic book landscape / approach of simple characters. After all, the Fantastic Four became "the world's greatest comic" simply BECAUSE the characterisations were complex and unique, and the characters each had strong identities. This is ignored a bit in favour of an Irwin Allen "Land of the Giants" TV feel. Meaning: these are not epic characters on the level of the X-men.
Dr Doom's development was somewhat of a disappointment. While I enjoyed how the new scriptwriters have incorporated him in a more contemporary and intelligent way - I wish that the original character could've been respected. The mystery and dark foreboding of the original Dr Doom was on a level that inspired characters like Darth Vader. Doom's comic book legacy deserved better.
The Human Torch however, is excellent. Never my favourite character, he nonetheless comes alive in every way in the film. Flame on!
The DVD itself is chock full of extras which I'm still wading thru. 3.5 stars for the film; 4.5 for the DVD packaging.
There's more to come...a pretty good start.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2006
After a succession of dark and/or self-important comic book adaptations, such as batman, sin city, spiderman and the like, fantastic four makes a very refreshing change. It is very bright, lots of colour, and a fun, light-hearted tone, with a plethora of puns and gags which will have you giggling and groaning at the same time.
It also makes a refreshing change to see them (eventually) embracing their powers as gifts, and using them and not being shy about remaining anonymous, as most other superheroes will do. This perhaps makes the four seem more human - the public know exactly who they really are. Anyway, this also gives a touch of grounding in realism - guys that looked like that, with powers like that - we'd know all about them surely? It's not like a pair of glasses each would make them Joe (or Josephine) regular, a la Clark Kent (how did Lois buy that for so many years anyway?)
But I digress. Ioan Gruffudd manages a competent if rather textbook American accent, and Jessica Alba fulfils her assigned role by being as hot as ever (though why are female scientists always knockouts? They never were in my school!). The stars of the piece though are Michael Chiklis' heartfelt portrayal of the thing, and Julian McMahon camping it up superbly as the villain. Chris Evans (no, not that one!) rounds out the heroic quartet as the arrogant guy who takes full advantage of his fame, cut straight from the template.
The special effects are superb (although that comes almost as standard nowadays), and all of our heroes get chance to fully show off their powers, even if some of them have been amplified from the original comics.
One criticism of the film is that although running at 1 hour 45 minutes the story was too short in itself, and that most of the film seemed to be all about setting up a series of sequels - as if this was merely the first chapter of the full film. Be that as it may, as a franchise launcher, it has certainly whetted the appetite. A sequel will be eagerly anticipated, and will be expected to improve on its predecessor.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2007
For once, we are given a comic book adaptation that doesn't ruin the superheroes to make a quick buck.
"The Fantastic Four" is smart, funny and has terrific effects. The plot is plausible enough to move the story along. An unlikely group fids itself in space to study a mysterious solar phenomenon and finds itself irradiated and physically altered. The group's scientist becomes elastic. His friend and bodyguard turns into a hideous man of stone. A brother and sister duo respectively become human fireball and invisible. The billionaire who sent them into space is turning into an electro-metallic madman.
Sounds farfetched, but the cast keeps the tone light with wisecracks and visual humor. The film also does a nice job of dealing with the group's various reactions to their new powers - embarrassment, wonder, horror and amusement. The effects are terrific. Chris Evans (as human torch Johnny Storm) goes snowboarding with a girlfriend, catches on fire inadvertently, goes careening and melts a tunnel through the snow that he turns into a hot tub for his date. The Thing (Michal Chiklis) alternates between ripping off truck doors (to save a trapped trucker) and apologizing for scaring people. He is the true emotional center of the movie, which is saying something, as he was covered many inches thick in foam and makeup to pay the role.
The DVD extras are few, with a handful of deleted scenes showing alternatives to the sentimental denouement between two characters. The images in the widescreen edition were quite distorted, especially in the first few minutes. But I either got used to them or they got better as the movie progressed.
TFF is well made and well acted, with just the tight touches of humor, attitude and peril to make it worth watching.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2005
When the comic book movie craze officially hit with the release of blockbusters such as, "Spiderman", "X-Men", and their hugely successful sequels, many comic book fans were left wondering when will Marvel's first superhero team, the Fantastic 4, make it to the big screen. Since at the time DC Comics had not released "Batman Begins", Marvel Comics was the only comics' distributor releasing movies, so of course their characters were the primary focus of fans. Many began to worry with the poor performance (in movie critic's minds, that is) of "Hulk", "Daredevil", and "Elektra", would comic book movies continue to be made or would the superhero genre die out once again. Luckily, the genre has not died, despite movie critic's most desperate wishes, and in 2005 Marvel's 'First Family of Heroes' were given the big screen treatment they deserved, and audiences were treated to a more tongue-in-cheek comic book movie, that still delivered the goods in terms of storytelling and quality.
"Fantastic 4" is essentially the origins for this team of reluctant heroes. Dr. Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) and his best friend Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) are attempting to persuade the extremely rich industrialist, Victor Von Doom, to fund an expedition into space to study a cosmic anomaly that is nearing Earth's orbit. Von Doom agrees with the proviso that he and his lovely assistant/girlfriend, Susan Storm (Jessica Alba), along with her hot-headed brother Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) are allowed to join them on their voyage into space. Though the expedition begins pleasantly enough, except for Johnny's practical jokes on Ben, things quickly turn awry as the cosmic anomaly reaches Von Doom's space station sooner than expected and all 5 members of the expedition are bombarded with cosmic rays. Upon their return to Earth everything appears to be normal, but then everyone begins experiencing changes in their bodies, and new powers developing. Each member exhibits different powers, Reed has the power of elasticity, Sue gains invisibility, Johnny can control fire, and Ben becomes hard as rock. These four out of the five member team try to learn more about the source of their new powers and possibly find a cure for them. Meanwhile, Victor Von Doom, whose skin is slowly becoming a metallic alloy, and also has the ability to shoot electricity from his hands, is becoming increasingly distrubed and blames Reed for causing his current condition. However, instead of finding a cure, he embraces his anger along with his power and turns on the society that has begun to shun him. Now Reed, Ben, Sue, and Johnny must decide whether to rid themselves of their powers or join forces to battle their onetime comrade and protect humanity from his evil.
Though not nearly as serious as "Spiderman" or "X-Men" or any of the other Marvel Comics' movies for that matter, "Fantastic 4" still gives an engaging story that can be both serious and humorous. The casting is terrific, all of the actors perfectly embody their comic book counterparts, especially Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis. These two actors excellently capture the constant bickering/bullying between the Human Torch and the Thing, while at the same time showing their underlying loyalty and willingness to sacrifice for one another if the need arose. The special effects work is terrific, and it was nice to see the Thing not be computer generated like the Hulk was. Though critics tore this movie apart and tried to convince the public it was not and could never be a big success, the box office numbers provided by fans and general movie audiences proved otherwise.
If you enjoyed "Spiderman" or "X-Men" or any of the other comic book movies, or are just a fan of sci-fi/action movies with good storytelling, then "Fantastic 4" is a movie you should see. However, do not watch this movie expecting to see the same level of drama as "Spiderman" and "X-Men" had, this movie is much lighter in tone, while still delivering a good story with plenty of drama mixed in.
"Fantastic 4" is rated PG-13 for violence, language, and brief sensuality.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Reed Richards (Gruffudd), Sue Storm (Alba), Ben Grimm (Chiklis), Johnny Storm (Evans), and Victor Von Doom (McMahon) embark upon a mission to Von Doom's space station to study the effects of cosmic rays on living material. Reed's motives are the good of humanity, Victor's are profit, and he already has squeezed out 75% of the proceeds for himself. They are supposed to be protected by the space station, but when things goe wrong, they are all exposed to the radiation. Their DNA is significantly altered, and they soon find themselves with super powers.
Reed, Mr. Fantastic, becomes elastic. Sue, the Invisible Woman, can turn invisible and manipulate force fields. Ben, the Thing, becomes rock-like with immense strength. Johnny, the Human Torch, can ignite himself at will and even fly. Victor, Dr. Doom, goes to the dark side with his ability to manipulate electricity and his development of a metal skin. They must all deal with this adjustment, contemplate changing themselves back, and facing off against each other four vs. one.
The greatest weakness of "FF" is that it is an origin story. Most viewers will want to see some action right away. Die hard fans of the comic will be dismayed at the alteration of Dr. Doom's origins. In fact, the origin IS the story, culminating in the big battle to end the film.
While no where as good as "Batman Begins" or "Spider-Man 2", "FF" carves out its own niche in the superhero movie world. True to the comics, the story is mostly lighter in tone with the inter-character humor that fans will expect. It is an enjoyable popcorn film that does not strive to be more than it is.
Acting wise, the cast is pretty good. Michael Chiklis steals every scene as Ben, weather he is human looking or rocky looking. He also provides the most moving of stories. After all, his world is turned upside down by his transformation, and not in a good way. Ioan Gruffudd is capable as the somewhat boring Reed Richards. And Chris Evans is perfect as the wisecracking Johnny Storm. The interaction between Ben and Johnny is priceless at times, and is very true to the source material.
"FF" is a thoroughly entertaining movie that can be seen by the whole family, and can be enjoyed by all. That is more than can be said for most of the other movies out there right now, and that works greatly in its favor. Hopefully, with this origin story out of the way, any sequels can dive right into the action that many viewers crave. Give it a chance, and I think you will be pleased.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2007
This is an extended e-mail that I sent to a friend who was considering purchasing the DVD...
When the movie was released a couple of years ago, I went to go see it on opening weekend. Despite the film's weak plot and misinterpretations of the characters that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created so long ago, it was fun and action-packed.
I bought the DVD when it was released, and later found an earlier draft of the script online.
When I heard that it was getting an extended cut (after being surprised by finding Spider-Man 2.1 at a local Wal-Mart), I considered buying it, and eventually did.
I haven't watched the movie with the deleted scenes back in, but I did see the new scenes on the "Deleted/Extended Scenes" special feature.
The disc has both the original theatrical version (as released in the US, it says) and the extended version. Judging from disc space required, how they pulled it off (no double-sided disc), is that the only full cut of the movie that is really on there is the theatrical version. When you play the extended version, it will automatically jump in between the movie and the deleted scenes. This is fine, except sometimes the music gets messed up (though I didn't note any problems here) and, on some, you can't use subtitles, which doesn't help when you can't have surround sound so as not to offend the neighbors. Also, the branching causes a three-second pause each time it jumps inbetween the two bits of footage on the player I use, and will likely do so on some other players, too.
One problem is is that it looks they put back ALL of the deleted scenes! Cool? Yes, except for that scene where Sue makes Reed take a break and they go to a bridge? In an earlier version of the script, it was going to be in a planetarium, and this scene is put into the movie... HOWEVER, so is another scene that is an alternate version of the bridge scene, where instead of elongating his chin when he says, "I figured that's what you always wanted... a stronger man," he does a weird morph into Wolverine! (Both of these were among the few deleted scenes on the DVD's original release.)
I was glad to see more footage building the characters of Ben and Johnny after they get their powers. (These scenes were in the earlier draft of the script that I read.) I especially like the scene in Alicia's sculptor's shop where Ben notices the puppets and asks about them. She tells him they were made by her step father. In the comics (44 Years of the Fantastic Four Collector's Edition Win/Mac [DVD]), Alicia's father is the Puppet Master. However, considering that the movies are having the Fantastic Four battle cosmic-powered beings, I'm not expecting him to pop up soon.
The extended cut, I guess, is an overall improvement over the theatrical version.
Other than audio commentaries, only one of which is available for the extended version, the first disc only has an "Inside Look" feature about the sequel, which also contains the teaser trailer, instead of the full trailer.
Disc 2 has three documentaries about the comics. (Woot!) Except for "From Comic Book to Film," they are all interesting. "From Comic Book to
Film" only shows panels from the comics matched up to clips from the movie, which sometimes only barely resemble each other.
"The World's Greatest Comic Magazine" is an informative documentary about the comic book series, covering the creation and how the series has progressed over the years.
There is also a documentary about Jack Kirby, the original "Fantastic Four" artist, that seems to be well-researched and documented, but I haven't finished watching it.
There are stills and galleries, and two features about the movie, one of which I'd seen before and already had on DVD: "Heroes are Born: The Making of...," Wal-Mart sold it as an exclusive special disc in a two-pack with the original DVD.
"Heroes Are Born" is not an extreme in-depth documentary. Rather, it covers the leading five actors and the special effects used to create their characters.
"The Baxter Building: Declassified" doesn't let you know very much. It practically tells you what the Baxter Building is and some of it's design for the film.
If you, to some extent, liked the movie, you should like the extended edition.
And, since I'm reviewing a Fantastic Four product, allow me to reccomend the alternate dramatic Fantastic Four series: Fantastic Four - The Complete Animated Series from 1994. For some reason, people say these '90s animated series got the characters better than the new movies.
There was also a 1994 ashcan film, and a 1960s cartoon series, but these are not officially on DVD.
This extended DVD is worth the buy, especially as it has a $8.50 gift certificate for a ticket to see the sequel, coming out exactly one week from now!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Say Fantastic Four to most people on the planet and they'll say, "What? Who?"
Say Batman and everyone nods.
The Fantastic Four was the first comic that Marvel Comics produced in the early 1960's. It preceded Spiderman and the XMen. Even so, it has remained largely a comic fan's comic book, considered somewhat unaccessible by the public at large. Why? Well, I have my own thoughts, but I'm sure they're just my own. Suffice it to say, that the Fantastic Four (the comic of which has never been one I've been interested in) film stands up quite well when placed side by side against other comics to films.
As with any such film, the absolute intent is for there to be more than one film. Why? Well, you've got to do a lot of suspension of disbelief as well as introduction of characters and their intentions and their psyche. If those aren't incorporated, you end up with a hollow film with no emotional center (remember Batman and Robin?).
Marvel and their film production partners have wisely made the decision to ground all their comic films in modern reality. This means New York is New York and not Gotham City - some bizarro world alternate reality. To do so, means that the comic to film characters must become flesh and blood believable. In this film, Marvel has scored.
Ioan Gruffudd as Mr. Fantastic is sincere and extremely believable as a man on a mission but who tries to push his own feelings away. Jessica Alba as the Invisible Woman is certainly sexy, but more importantly, Ms. Alba brings a nuanced confidence to the role that it needed. Michal Chiklas as The Thing could not be any finer. Thank heaven technology caught up to comics so that the Thing could be "real" and not CGI, so that Chiklas' acting comes through far more intensely than the costume he wears. Dr. Doom's backstory has been tweeked to make it more accessible and "believable" to the audience. Is it effective? You bet. I keep finding that Marvel's film developments often surpass the "realities" of their comic counterparts, making them more believable and reality based, while maintaining the fantasy aspects so necessary to the stories. And finally, Chris Evans as Johnny Storm, the Human Torch. Wow! This could have really been screwed up. The Human Torch's popularity has surpassed that of the Fantastic Four, garnering him his own series of comics from time to time. He's a smart alec and a cocky SOB. Initially, I understand, the producers were just going to have the character be able to shoot flames from his hands, thus making him truly a "human torch", but somewhere along the line, they kept the character as in the comics and he is fully "on fire". Evans and Chiklas steal the show with their character portrayals, and the script still lets their humanity come through.
As with any introductory film, the script is forced to be overtly heavy in exposition and backstory. However, seeing that this film was a success, doubtless there will be a sequel, which should mean that it will be able to be nothing but a non-stop thrill ride.
Even so, while often burdened with too much expostional material, in the long run this film needed it and it suceeds because of it.
No, it's certainly not perfect, but I'll not fault the producers too much. The casting was perfect and the special effects were just dynamite. I'm looking forward to the next installment.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2005
I'm surprised at the amount of negative reviews that have surrounded this movie. Perhaps, like most opinions of movies made from books or comics, it depends on whether the viewer was a fan of the original material. If you didn't read the original Lee-Kirby Fantastic Four of the the 1960's, then maybe this movie doesn't do it for you. But if you did read those comics, then I think you will love this movie. It captures the mood, the interplay between the characters, and most of all, the tragic nature of Ben Grimm almost perfectly. And, I hate to say it, but the state of the art effects are even more impressive than the pulse-pounding excitement of a Kirby fight scene. Unlike a lot of special effects extravaganzas of the last few years, this movie is about the characters. It is both funny and moving. Just like the Fantastic Four that I remember.