Fantastic Four: Extended Edition
Review by James Harvey

Click Here!I'll admit I wasn't the biggest fan when Fantastic Four originally hit in 2005. I thought the directing was lackluster, the budget should have been bigger, and the characters more fleshed out. I understand that every comic book movie will take liberties with the source material, which is forgivable, but Iím still a bit letdown with how they handled Dr. Doom. But, timed to be released with its upcoming sequel, Fantastic Four has been re-released in a new two-disc Extended Edition release. Is the movie better? I would have to say . . . yes.

Marvel's first family of comic superheroes takes the world by storm as the longest running comic book series in history comes to the big screen. The Fantastic Four are: Reed Richards / Mr. Fantastic, who can elongate his body; Susan Storm / Invisible Woman, who not only can become invisible at will but can render other objects invisible; Johnny Storm / Human Torch, who can shoot fire from his finger tips and bend flame; and Ben Grimm / The Thing, a hideously misshapen monster with superhuman strength. Together, they battle the evil Doctor Doom.

Fantastic Four was originally met with a mediocre response when it premiered back in summer 2005. When I originally reviewed it for Toon Zone News, I wasnít too kind with it. If I recall correctly, I thought the score was probably the best part of the entire picture (which I still enjoy, and Iím glad to see John Ottoman returning to score Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer). I thought the movie shortchanged itself, failing to live up to the epic yet intimate scope that the Fantastic Four comic book is known for. Is any of this fixed by the additional twenty minutes added into the feature?

Well, yes and no. The new scenes add some much needed character development and breathing room. For those who enjoyed the movies, the new additions will simply be more icing on the cake. There are some funny moments, I will admit. The elevator scene with Johnny Storm is worth a chuckle. Some scenes added in do seem to be a bit subjective, but nothing that distracts from the movie overall.

Oddly enough, I donít dislike this movie as much as I originally did. Sure the special effects arenít the best (and they are absolutely horrible in some parts) and the script is bare and paper-thin, but this movie has an odd tongue-in-cheek-without-knowing-it type of quality to it. I mean, some of the things that happen in this movie are pretty ridiculous (Benís fiancťe going outside to meet him in her lingerie? Un-hunh. The orgy of product placement during a Ben/Johnny tussle? Yikes!) and the acting can be borderline repulsive at times, but the movie is somehow watch-able. I canít put my finger one it, but thereís something about this movie that makes me revisit it from time to time. And for fans of the classic Fantastic Four cartoons, keep an eye out for a cameo by none other than H.E.R.B.I.E. Itís there folks, all in the new footage.

While itís doubtful the extended edition of Fantastic Four will change your mind on the movie, itís worth at least a shot. Personally, I find the extended cut an improvement over the original, and worth checking out (especially if you plan to see Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer next week). While it still isnít a great movie, this new cut of the film is worth viewing.

So, now what about the DVD release itself? Coming in a regular Amaray case housed in a cardboard sleeve with inserts and a free ticket to Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, this two-disc set is worth it. Even if you donít like the movie, but youíre a fan of the characterís comic book history, this set it worth it. The extras, particularly on the second disc, are phenomenal.

The extras found on this collection begin pretty much immediately. For those worried about having a hard time gaining access to the filmís extended cut, no worries. Itís the very first menu you see on Disc One. If you donít want to see the extended cut of the scene, but youíre curious about the additional material, all are available separately via their own menu on the first disc. I have to admit that the new main title sequence used in the extended cut of the movie is pretty sharp, and actually supports the movieís thin plot.

The first disc is rounded off with a couple commentaries, a peek at Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer, the original teaser trailer, the theatrical trailers, and three TV spots.

Once youíre done with the first disc, hop over to Disc Two where youíll find a plethora of "Fantastic" features. It may sound like Iím exaggerating, but the second disc is easily worth the price of the new release alone. Donít like the movie? Like I said earlier, the second disc is all worth it.
Starting off with the "Production" section of the second disc, weíre treated to a 97-minute documentary behind the making of the film.

Called "Heroes are Born," thereís a lot of one-set footage and interviews with all the major cast and crew of the film. There are some fluffy parts to the documentary, but it goes into great detail about the movie and provides plenty of information for the fans to enjoy. Related to that, we get a closer look at the Baxter Building in "The Baxter Building: Declassified," a featurette focusing on the heroesí famed home.

The "Comic Book" section offers two hour long looks at the four-color origins of the superteam starting with the documentary, "The Worldís Greatest Comic Magazine." The documentary looks at the comic team throughout the ages, interviewing countless writers and artists and giving us a look at how the comic has evolved through itsí existence. If you have a favorite Fantastic Four writer or artist, thereís a good chance they are featured here. Thereís also a 64-minute piece on Jack Kirby himself, the man responsible for shaping the supergroup into the team they are today. Comic fans are guaranteed to enjoy this, no question!

The second disc is wrapped up with a three-minute featurette on the Fantastic Four collectibles, a merchandise gallery, a "comic book to film" featurette that compares page panels to movie scenes, and a whole bunch of still galleries. Seriously, there is a lot of stuff in this new DVD release thatís worth checking out even if you hated the 2005 live-action romp.

Overall, Fantastic Four: Extended Edition comes Highly Recommended (even if you donít like the actual movie). The transfer and video/audio is great and the extras themselves are stellar. The extras here easily match some of the best two-disc special editions released in the past few years. The additional scenes do help flesh out the movie a teeny bit, though it wonít change any minds. The extras, specifically those found on the second disc, are excellent across the board. Whether youíre a fan of the movie or the comics, or both, there is something here for you. While I detest double-dips, this is one of the best double-dips Iíve seen. Check it out!

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