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FANTASTIC 4 – RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 7, 2009 by  



“’Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer’ improves from the original film and to make things much better on Blu-ray,  awesome PQ & AQ plus Twentieth Century Fox literally added hours of special features.   If you loved the film, you will love it on Blu-ray!”

Images courtesy of © 2007 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: FANTASTIC 4 – RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER

DURATION: 92 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, AVC @ 27 MBPS, Widescreen 2:40:1, English DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio, English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Surround, Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Cantonese, Korean

COMPANY:  Twentieth Century Fox

RATED: PG (For Sequences of Action Violence.  Some mild language and innuendo)

Based on characters by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Directed by Tim Story

Screenplay by Don Payne and Mark Frost

Based on a story by John Turm and Mark Frost

Executive Producers: Stan Lee, Kevin Feige, Chris Columbus, Mark Radcliffe, Michael Barnathan

Produced by Bernd Eichinger, Avi Arad, Ralph Winter

Music by John Ottman

Director of Photography: Larry Blanford

Edited by Peter S. Elliot, William Hoy

Production Design by Kirk M. Petruccelli

Art Direction by Daniel T. Dorrance and Sandi Tanaka

Set Decoration by Elizabeth Wilcox

Costume Design by Mary E. Vogt

Starring:

Ioan Gruffudd as Mr. Fantastic/Reed Richards

Jessica Alba as Invisible Woman/Sue Storm

Chris Evans as Human Torch/Johnny Storm

Michael Chiklis as The Thing/Ben Grimm

Julian McMahon as Dr. Doom/Victor Von Doom

Kerry Washington as Alicia Masters

Andre Braugher as General Hager

Laurence Fishburne as the voice of The Silver Surfer

Doug Jones as The Silver Surfer

Beau Garrett as Captain Frankie Raye

Brian Posehn as Wedding Minister

Zach Grenier as Mr. Sherman

The second installment of the live-action film series based on what fans know as “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine,” this action-packed sequel reunites Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, Chris Evans and Ioan Gruffudd as The Invisible Woman, The Thing, The Human Torch and Mr. Fantastic, the fabulous quartet of super heroes from the incredible Marvel Comics universe.

In 2007, the sequel to the “Fantastic Four” film titled “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” was released in theaters.  The film would bring together The Fantastic Four with their rival/friend The Silver Surfer.

The sequel was directed by Tim Story (“Fantastic Four” and”Barbershop”) and a screenplay by Don Payne (“My Super Ex-Girfriend” and “The Simpsons”) and Mark Frost (“The Greatest Game Ever Played” and “Fantastic Four”).  The screenplay is based on a story by Frost and John Turman (“Hulk” and “Freedom”) and would feature music by composer John Ottman (“Cellular”, “X2” and “Valkyrie”) and cinematography by Larry Blanford (“Eagle Eye”, “The Kingdom”, “Night at the Museum” and “Smokin’ Aces”).

The film would bring back the main talent from the first film:

Ioan Gruffud as Dr. Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic – The leader of the group and the scientist with a brilliant mind who is engaged to Sue Storm.  His power is the ability to stretch and to use his body to conform to different shapes if needbe.

Jessica Alba as Sue Storm/Invisible Woman –  Fiance of Reed Richards, sister of Johnny Storm and has the ability of invisibility and creating invisible force fields.

Chris Evans as Johnny Storm/Human Torch – Sister of Sue Storm and overall playboy.  Has the power to have his whole body turn into fire and has the ability to fly.

Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm/The Thing – A fellow scientist and the brawler of the group.  Made of rock (and doesn’t have the ability to change back to human form), he dates his blind girlfriend Alicia Masters (Kerry Washington).

Julian McMahon as Victor Von Doom/Doctor Doom – The rival of Reed Richards who was thought to be dead but eventually has come back to life more evil as ever.

Doug Jones and Laurence Fishburn (voice) as Norrin Radd/Silver Surfer – The herald of Galactus who spared his planet and his love but sacrificed his humanity to become a herald of Galactus and to find new planets for devouring.  His power emanates form his surfboard.

The film kicks off with a planet that is killed off, it’s life sucked out.  We are then shown a cosmic anomaly in space.  The military wants Reed Richard to devise a device in order for the military to detect this anomaly but it’s a few days until the wedding of Reed and his fiance Sue Storm.  Everyone is in wedding mode with the exception of Reed who despite telling his wife that he wouldn’t be assisting the military, his workaholic habit kicks in and secretly devises a device to track the anomaly.

On the date of Reed and Sue’s wedding, the anomaly arrives on Earth and disrupts their wedding, Johnny Storm (Human Torch) goes after this anomaly and discovers a silver man on a surfboard.  A chase ensues throughout New York City and then high above the planet in which the Silver Surfer’s touch somehow nullifies Storm’s power.

Next thing you know, Johnny Storm’s power has somewhat changed due to his confrontation with the Silver Surfer.  Now anyone he touches will gain his power and he will gain their power.

But now the Fantastic Four must help the US military catch this Silver Surfer but unbeknown to the group, Victor Von Doom is still alive and the government have hired him to help Reed Richards and the team in order catch the Silver Surfer.   Will this alliance between the two bitter rivals work or does Dr. Doom have an evil plan already set in motion?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“FANTASTIC 4 – RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER” is one of the earlier Blu-ray releases that was able to show off amazing detail with its High Definition 1080p transfer.

The film showcases the detail for the outdoor surroundings.  May it be water or grain of dirt or the green lush forest, detail of these surroundings come alive much more than its DVD counterpart.  Silver Surfer’s reflections from the surroundings are reflected through the body and are quite evident and really shine through in HD, Sue Storm (ala Jessica Alba’s contacts) showcase her blue eyes, Human Torch’s flames come to life and the rocks on Thing’s body have more detail.   And there is a high level of vibrancy through the video as colors really come out through the many daylight scenes in the film.  A very awesome transfer from Twentieth Century Fox.

As for audio quality, the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track sounds quite impressive.  It’s one thing to get panning audio directional from the surrounds but to hear the various sound effects through the rear audio was quite nice.  LFE usage is also well-used throughout the film and the overall soundtrack and musical score keeps you immersed throughout the film.  Overall, another impressive audio transfer.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fantastic 4 – Rise of the Silver Surfer” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary by Director Tim Story – A very insightful commentary from Director Tim Story.  Tim talks about a variety of scenes and why things have to change from comic to the film adaptation.  Also, his knowledge of the Fantastic Four universe and the comics and how much of that he wanted to retain in the film.
  • Audio Commentary by Producer Avi Arad, Writer Don Payne and FIlm Editors Peter Elliot and William Hoy – A more technical commentary of the film.  And behind-the-scene discussions of certain scenes and differences from screenplay.
  • Extended and Deleted Scenes – (9:36) Extended deleted scenes of the main title, Fantastic Store, Wedding Montage, Reed Gets Crushed Ring and Doom Builds Arm Band and Covers Up His Mask.  All scenes has optional commentary by Director Tim Story and are featured in black and white with time stamps.
  • Family Bonds: The Making of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer – (46:11) The making of the film (choice of pre-production or during production).  An in depth look at the behind-the-scenes planning of the film, various scenes, scout locations, etc.  The production side goes into the making of the Dr. Doom’s mask, production meetings, making the Silver Surfer sequences, costume photo tests, Doom’s lair, the vehicles and more.  Overall, an awesome behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film.
  • The Fantasticar: State of the Art – (10:36) Interview with the concept artist Tim Flattery, TransFX production crew and the talent in regards to the Fantasticar.  A behind-the-scene look on the 3D rendering to the creations of the miniature and large size model.
  • The Power Cosmic – (15:10) John Kilkenny (Senior VP of VFX at Twentieth Century Fox) explains how important it was to pull of the Silver Surfer and utilizing the Kirby and other artists iconic poses and capturing the look.  The awesome suit built for actor Doug Jones had to wear, utilizing motion capture, CG, and working with an overseas company and communication between the company in the UK responsible for Silver Surfer’s look was done through computer with those in the US and more.  Very in-depth look at the creation of the Silver Surfer scenes and the large number of people it took to pull it off.
  • Sentinel of the Spaceways: Comic Book Origins of the Silver Surfer – (39:02) The history of the Silver Surfer.  Interviews with Stan Lee and what the Silver Surfer mean to him.  Interviews with Marvel staff in regards to the Silver Surfer then and now.  A magnificent featurette on the comic book character.
  • Scoring the Fantastic– (4:39) The scoring of “Fantastic 4 – Rise of the Sivler Surfer”.  Featuring
    Composer John Ottman talking about the scoring of the film and what he wanted to accomplish.
  • Character Design with Spectral Motion – (11:34) Making the prosthetic suit for the Thing and goals for the second film featuring an interview with Mike Elizalde (The Thing Makeup Prosthetic Supervisor of Spectral Motion).
  • Still Galleries – Still galleries for “Behind the Scenes”, “Characters” and “Concept Art”.  Viewers can use their remote to forward and through each image.
  • “Saving the World One Question at a Time” Trivia Game – A trivia game featuring over a hundred questions.  For each miss, Galactus gets close to devouring a planet.
  • “Who Dares Defy Galactus?” Strategy Game – A Blu-ray strategy board game pitting the Silver Surfer vs. Galactus and who can possess the most planets.
  • Personal Scene Selections – More or less the viewer can select a button to save a personal scene that they can rewatch.
  • Trailers – Upcoming Twentieth Century Fox film trailers in HD
  • Fox on Blu-ray – Trailers for Fantastic Four, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, X-Men The Last Stand.  All presented in 1080p.
  • D-Box

When it comes to the “Fantastic Four”, I suppose you can say that it was a comic book series that I grew up with and absolutely loved (from the John Byrne years to even the 1990’s Sue Storm goes sexy  years).

But what many people don’t know (who have not read the comic book series) is that the group was never going to be in the same category as X-Men or Spider-Man.  “Fantastic Four” has its share of adventure and action but characters such as Reed Richards and even Sue Storm, despite what their characters are put through in the comic book series, they are scientists who have a lot of money and some may seem them as boring while others enjoy Reed’s intelligence in constantly saving the world with his inventions.

“Fantastic 4 – Rise of the Silver Surfer” is a film that takes the comic book series and follows the characters similarly and brings one of the coolest characters The Silver Surfer, to the big screen (And hopefully setting up things for an actual Silver Surfer film).

I personally enjoyed this film a lot because you have the group taking on their nemesis Dr. Doom once again but have to go against the planet devourer Galactus. But of course, there are quite a number of problems I have had with the film.

Of course, Galactus is not the large purple and blue behemoth from the comic book series but a big giant cloud that devours planets and has granted a few people with special powers, ala Norrin Radd (The Silver Surfer).   What makes Galactus so menacing is his large presence as this cosmic being and unfortunately, in the film, he is reduced to a huge cloud that devours worlds.  But Director Tim Story did thoroughly explains in his commentary that this was not Galactus per se, that he wanted another director to showcase Galactus in a Silver Surfer film, so showing the behemoth was not his goal in the film.

And Dr. Doom, well, we wanted the dark brooding Dr. Doom but nevertheless Julian McMahon’s reprise of the character was fine but his role was quite short.

Since the release of these two films, there have been a lot of discussion about “Fantastic 4” going through a reboot, new cast and with the success of “The Dark Knight”, “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk” (which did receive a reboot), personally I found the current cast of Fantastic Four to be fine.  But I suppose the reason why this second film didn’t resonate so clearly with the fans is the storyline (note: the second film made less than the first).

Even with the comic book series, as much as Fantastic Four was one my favorite comic books, it was clearly no X-Men or the Avengers.  It was a group of family and friends that were not taking on the typical villains that Spider-Man and Captain America were going against most of the time.  This group had to deal with intergalactic villains such as Thanos, Annihilus and were constantly fighting in new worlds.  It was a different style of comic book and the only darkness that was typically found are through relationships between Reed Richards and Sue Storm (or Reed Richards gone missing and She-Hulk having to be part of the group).

But the fact is that audiences for super hero films enjoy the darkness that heroes are put through. To be more serious that comic book-like and the fact is, many films are now going to be compared to the box office hit “The Dark Knight” which took superhero films to a new level in storytelling.

But for those who see a Blu-ray copy of “Fantastic 4 – Rise of the Silver Surfer”, the film is much more enjoyable than the first.  But the picture and audio quality through its HD transfer on Blu-ray is simply amazing.  And as mentioned, there are so many special features included on this Blu-ray disc that simply, if you were a fan of the comic books or the film, you will definitely enjoy what has been included in this release.

Overall, I was entertained by the film but if you are expecting “The Dark Knight” type of storyline, you won’t find that level of seriousness with this film.

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