REVIEW: FANTASTIC FOUR (2015)

CAST
Miles Teller (Divergent)
Michael B. Jordan (Creed)
Kate Mara (Iron Man 2)
Jamie Bell (King Kong)
Toby Kebbell (Dawn of The Planet of The Apes)
Reg E.Cathey (Seven)
Tim Blake Nelson (The Incredible Hulk)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Wayne Pére (Cloak & Dagger)
Friends Reed Richards and Ben Grimm have worked together on a prototype teleporter since childhood, eventually attracting the attention of Professor Franklin Storm, director of the Baxter Foundation, a government-sponsored research institute for young prodigies. Reed is recruited to join them and aid Storm’s children, scientist Sue Storm and the somewhat reckless technician Johnny Storm, into completing a “Quantum Gate” designed by Storm’s wayward protégé, Victor von Doom, who begrudgingly agrees to help due to his unrequited feelings for Sue.
The experiment is successful, and the facility’s supervisor, Dr. Allen, plans to send a group from NASA to venture into a parallel dimension known as “Planet Zero”. Disappointed at being denied the chance to join the expedition, Reed, Johnny, and Victor along with Ben use the Quantum Gate to embark on an unsanctioned voyage to Planet Zero, which they learn is a world filled with otherworldly substances. Victor attempts to touch the green-lava like substance, causing the surface they are on to collapse and the ground to erupt. Reed, Johnny, and Ben return to their shuttle just as Sue brings them back to Earth. Victor is left behind after he falls into the collapsing landscape. The machine explodes, altering Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben on a molecular-genetic level, affording them superhuman conditions and abilities beyond their control: Reed can stretch like rubber, Sue can become invisible and generate force fields of energy, Johnny can engulf his entire body in flames and fly, and Ben becomes bigger and develops a rock-like hide which gives him enhanced strength and durability. They are then placed in government custody and confinement to be studied and have their conditions and abilities tested. Blaming himself for the accident, Reed escapes from the facility and tries to find a cure for their changes.
Miles Teller in Fantastic Four (2015)
One year later, Reed is now a fugitive and has built a suit that is able to adapt to his body’s plasticity and also helps him control his ability. Hiding in Central America, he is eventually found by the United States military with Sue’s help and captured by Ben, who has become a military asset along with Johnny and Sue. Johnny and Sue have been outfitted with specialized suits designed to help them stabilize and control their abilities. Reed is brought to Area 57, where Dr. Allen conscripts him to open another portal to Planet Zero in exchange for giving Reed the necessary resources to find a cure. Arriving in Planet Zero, Dr. Allen’s explorers find Victor, who has been fused to his spacesuit and can now control the elements, as well as having telekinetic abilities, and bring him back to Earth. Believing the human race needs to be destroyed so he can rebuild Planet Zero in his image, Victor kills scientists and soldiers in the base including Dr. Allen and Professor Storm and returns to Planet Zero using the Quantum Gate, with Ben, Johnny, Reed, and Sue in pursuit.
Miles Teller in Fantastic Four (2015)
Now dubbing himself “Doom”, Victor activates a portal on Planet Zero using a structure he made while in the realm, that begins consuming the landscape of the Earth. He is confronted by the four and, after a destructive battle, Ben punches Doom into the portal’s energy beam, disintegrating him, while Johnny closes the portal. Returning to Earth, the group is rewarded for their heroics by being given a new base of operations by the US military. They decide to use their powers to help people and adopt the mantle of the “Fantastic Four”.

It’s certainly different from the comics, so if you go into it with an open mind you may find a better experience than if you want it to remain the same. It’s inventive, there’s an engaging cast, the Marco Beltrami/Philip Glass score is wonderful, but ultimately it goes against a lot of the superhero conventions. The big action setpieces had to be scrapped due to budgetary concerns and it shows. It’s a slow moving film but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth checking out. It’s notably darker with some elements of Cronenberg-esque body horror, yet it still has elements of humour and the ending isn’t really that bad. Some aspects could have been developed better and some of the reshoots are laughably bad – like with Reed asking Sue if she’s adopted. But it’s definitely worth watching even just to see what aspects didn’t work so well or to see the elements that do work. Because the elements that work are really gripping, and it’s very interesting to see superheroes reduced to test subjects in Area 57 and government stooges. It’s just unfortunate the good elements are often only glimpses. But if you can put up with that it’s a nice contrast to Marvel Studios’ output.

REVIEW: FANTASTIC FOUR (1994): THE COMPLETE SERIES

CAST
Beau Weaver (Transformers)
Lori Alan (Family Guy)
Chuck McCann (Ducktales)
Brian Austin Green (Anger Management)
Quinton Flynn (Digimon)
Neil Ross (Being John Malkovich)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Robin Sachs (Buffy)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Jane Carr (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
John Vernon (Batman: TAS)
Simon Templeman (The Neighbours)
Brad Garrett (The Crazy Ones)
Richard Grieco (21 Jump Street)
Clyde Kusatsu (Bird on a Wire)
Kerrigan Mahan (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Alan Oppenheimer (He-Man)
Gary Owens (That 70s Shows)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
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Launched in 1994 as part of Marvel’s Action Hour in the USA (alongside Iron Man), this then new cartoon attempted to bring Marvel’s First Family  to the attention of a new generation. The main US comic book of the time included a free ‘animation cel’ with #394 to promote the series and later a spin off comic book of the cartoon was launched. In its first season, the show is disappointing. Reduced to a crude sitcom, the show is creaky, toe curling and cheesy beyond belief.  Worst of all, Sue Richards is reduced to mere ‘damsel in distress’ for the entirety of the season, functioning only as a simpering wife and mother to the men on the team. Compared to the superior Batman: The Animated Series of the time and even Marvel’s other cartoons of the period Spider-man, X-Men and Iron Man, its not hard to feel disappointed with the translation of the Fantastic Four to the small screen.

Thankfully, the approach of Season One , with its comedy landlord and irksome stereotypes don’t seemed to have found favour with audiences either and the show was given a serious overhaul for Season Two. The improvement in storytelling is immense and does a much better job of servicing the characters and situations they find thermselves in. The theme tune and accompanying score are still pretty naff though, all synthesized fanfares and flat sounding parps.
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The Inhumans three parter is my favourite, giving all its key characters a chance to shine and the romance between Johnny Storm and Crystal is nicely done, There’s also some neat guest appearances for The Avengers, Black Panther and even Ego – The Living Planet. As with all of Clear Vision’s Marvel releases, the set is attractively packaged with some nice artwork by Simon Williams and the picture is pin sharp and vibrant. The sound is superb as well, being dolby 5.1 stereo. There’s nothing in the way of any extras though, just the usual language and episode selections.

REVIEW: THE FANTASTIC FOUR (1978): THE COMPLETE SERIES

CAST (VOICES)

Mike Road (Captain Caveman)
Ginny Tyler (Doctor Dolittle 1967)
Ted Cassidy (The Addams Family)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Hal Smith (Beauty and The Beast 1991)
John Stephenson (Charlottes Web 1973)
Dick Tufeld (Lost In Space)
Don Messick (Tiny Toon Adventures)
Through no fault of DePatie-Freleng, the character of the Human Torch couldn’t be included in this series because he’d already been optioned for a film project which, at the time, didn’t come to fruition. Instead, marvel legend Stan Lee created Herbie the Robot, voiced by the multi-talented Frank Welker, Megatron in the original Transformers. Although some fans reacted badly to the new character, for those who were just small children at the time, Herbie was perfect for us. His longevity has since been assured in Marvel Comics where he now serves as a sidekick to Franklin Richards, son of Mr & Mrs Fantastic.

As a small child many years ago, this series was a great introduction for me to the World of Marvel Comics. Guest characters include Magneto, Blastarr, Doctor Doom, The Inhumans, and Skrulls to name but a few. The stories and characters have an innocence about them which is missing from modern television, and the emphasis is always on fun… even when Herbie and Ben are squabbling the way best friends tend to.

And if the cell-animation seems simple and basic by today’s standards, where cgi seems to rule the roost, then let us not forget that DePatie-Freleng actually helped out with the special effects on the original legendary Star wars film.  In short, Fantastic Four (1978) is fantastic for kids… and also for grown-ups who want to remember the good ol’ days!

REVIEW: FANTASTIC 4: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER

CAST

Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
Jessica Alba (Machete)
Chris Evans (Captain America)
Michael Chikilis (Gotham)
Julian McMahon (Bait)
Kerry Washington (Save The Last Dance)
Andre Braugher (Salt)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)
Kevin McNulty (Tin Man)
Brian Posehn (New Girl)
Crystal Lowe (Poison Ivy 4)
Kenneth Welsh (The Aviator)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble
Beau Garrett (Tron Legacy)
Valerie Tian (Izombie)
As Reed Richards and Sue Storm prepare for their wedding, a silver object enters Earth’s atmosphere, creating 1 mile wide craters across the Earth. General Hager asks Reed to track and identify its movements. He initially refuses, to appease Sue, who feels he is again neglecting her for his work. However, he secretly builds a radar tracker to locate the object, as the Army requests.
During the wedding, Reed’s systems detect the phenomenon approaching New York City, which suffers a blackout since it emits electromagnetic pulses that cause power outages. Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, pursues the object, discovering it to be a silver humanoid on a flying surfboard. The “Silver Surfer” drags him into the upper atmosphere, suffocating him, and drops him. During his fall, Johnny finds his flame powers fluctuating and barely survives, successfully flying only at the last moment. Later, Sue and Johnny switch powers when they touch, prompting Reed to deduce that exposure to the Surfer has affected Johnny’s molecular structure, allowing him to switch powers with his teammates through physical contact. Tracing the cosmic energy of the Surfer, Reed discovers that a series of planets the alien has visited have all been destroyed.
With the Surfer creating craters around the globe, Reed determines that the next will appear in London. The team arrives too late to stop the crater, which drains the River Thames, but they prevent the London Eye from collapsing after it is damaged by the quake (though Johnny nearly thwarts their effect in the process when he switches powers with Reed). Afterward, Reed and Sue contemplate abandoning their lives as superheroes in order to have a normal life and raise a family, but are unaware that Johnny is listening. Meanwhile, the Surfer’s movements around the globe bring him past Latveria, where the cosmic energy affects Victor Von Doom, freeing him from two years encased in metal. A scarred Doom traces the Surfer to the Russell Glacier and offers to join forces. When the Surfer rebuffs him, Doom attacks. The Surfer retaliates, blasting Doom through the ice, but the cosmic energy of the Surfer’s blast heals Doom’s body.
Doom leverages his experience into a deal with the American military, who force the Fantastic Four to work with Doom. Deducing that the Surfer’s board is the source of his power, Reed develops a tachyon pulse generator that will separate him from it, while Doom works on a machine whose function he keeps a secret. In the Black Forest, the Surfer confronts Sue and reveals he is merely a servant to the destroyer of worlds, and regrets the destruction he causes. The military opens fire on the Surfer, which distracts him and allows the Fantastic Four to fire the pulse, separating the Surfer from his board. The military imprisons the Surfer in Siberia, where they torture him for information. Sue uses her powers to sneak into his cell, where he reveals more information. He tells her his master, known by the people of his world as Galactus, is a massive cloud-like cosmic entity that feeds on life-bearing planets to survive, and that his board is a homing beacon summoning Galactus to the planet. The Silver Surfer has to serve Galactus, who will otherwise destroy not only his loved ones but also his planet.
Using the device he has created earlier, Doom betrays Hager and steals the board from the compound, killing the majority of the Army present there. The Fantastic Four rescue the Surfer and pursue Doom in the Fantasticar, confronting him in Shanghai. During the battle, Sue is mortally wounded. With the Surfer powerless, Johnny absorbs the combined powers of the entire team (inspired by comics character the Super-Skrull) in order to battle the now cosmic energy-empowered Doom. Johnny succeeds in breaking Doom’s controlling device over the Surfer’s board, and Ben Grimm uses a nearby crane to knock Doom into the harbor, possibly drowning him. However, Galactus arrives and Sue dies in Reed’s arms. The Surfer regains control of his board, restoring his power. He revives Sue and chooses to defend Earth, flying, with an extra boost from Johnny, into Galactus. The conflict results in a massive blast of energy that engulfs Galactus, and apparently kills the Surfer as well. Johnny has recovered his stable molecular state after touching the Surfer’s board. Reed and Sue get married in Japan, in an abbreviated ceremony. Receiving news that Venice is sinking into the Adriatic, the team heads to Italy. In a post-credits scene, the Silver Surfer’s seemingly lifeless body floats through space. His eyes then open and his board races toward him, showing that he is still alive.
A great sequel to the first film – good, fun, family friendly superhero action with lots of effects and action and a decent enough story to keep you entertained

REVIEW: FANTASTIC FOUR (2005)

CAST
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
Jessica Alba (Machete)
Chris Evans (Captain America)
Michael Chikilis (Gotham)
Julian McMahon (Bait)
Hamish Linklater (The Crazy Ones)
Kerry Washington (Save The Last Dance)
Kevin McNulty (Tin Man)
Pascale Hutton (Sanctuary)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Gina Holden (Flash Gordon 2007)
Peter Bryant (Dark Angel)
Laurie Holden (The Walking Dead)
Andrew Airlie (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Michael Kopsa (Dark Angel)
Jason Schombing (Sanctuary)
David Richmond-Peck (V)
Colin Lawrence (Stargate SG.1)
Lorena Gale (Battlestar Galactica)
Daniel Bacon (Stargate SG.1)
Nicole Muñoz (Defiance)
Physicist Dr. Reed Richards is convinced evolution was triggered millions of years ago on Earth by clouds of cosmic energy in space, and has calculated that one of these clouds is soon going to pass near Earth. Together with his friend, astronaut Ben Grimm, Reed convinces Dr. Victor Von Doom, his former classmate at MIT and now CEO of Von Doom Industries, to allow him access to his privately owned space station to test the effects of a biological sample of exposure to the cloud. Doom agrees in exchange for control over the experiment and a majority of the profits from whatever benefits it brings. Reed brings aboard his ex-girlfriend and Von Doom’s chief genetics researcher Susan Storm and her ex-astronaut brother Johnny.
The quintet travels to outer space to observe the cosmic energy clouds, but Reed miscalculates and the clouds materialize ahead of schedule. Reed and the Storms leave the shielded station to rescue Ben, who had gone on a spacewalk to place the samples. Ben receives full exposure in outer space, while the others receive a more limited dose within the station. Back home they soon develop superpowers: Reed can stretch his body like rubber, Susan Storm can become invisible and generate impact resistant force shields, Johnny Storm can engulf himself in fire and fly unaided, and Ben becomes a rocklike creature with superhuman strength and durability. Meanwhile, Von Doom faces a backlash from his stockholders because of the publicity from the space mission, and has a scar on his face that came from an exploding control console on the station.
Ben’s fiancee Debbie cannot handle his new appearance and leaves him. Ben goes to brood on the Brooklyn Bridge and accidentally causes a traffic pileup while preventing a man from committing suicide. Ben, Reed and the Storms use their various abilities to contain the damage and prevent harm. The media dubs them the Fantastic Four. They move into Reed’s lab in the Baxter Building to study their abilities and seek a way to return Grimm to normal. Von Doom, himself mutating, offers his support but blames Reed for the failure of the spaceflight, which has lost him his company.
Reed tells the group he will construct a machine to recreate the storm and reverse its effects on them, but warns it could possibly accelerate them instead. Meanwhile, Von Doom’s arm has become organic metal, giving him superhuman strength allowing him to produce bolts of electricity, and he begins plotting revenge. He drives a wedge between Ben and Reed, who has rekindled his relationship with Susan Storm. Using the machine, Von Doom restores Ben to human form, while accelerating Von Doom’s condition, causing much of his body to turn to metal. Von Doom knocks the human Grimm unconscious and captures Reed.
Now calling himself Doctor Doom, he puts on a metallic mask to hide his disfigurement, tortures Reed and fires a heatseeking missile at the Baxter Building in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat Johnny Storm. Sue confronts Doom but is outmatched. Ben arrives to assist her, transformed into the Thing again by reusing the machine (speaking his signature line, “It’s clobberin’ time!”). The battle then gets spilled into the streets and The Storms combine their powers to wrap Doom in an inferno of intense heat, and Ben and Reed douse him with cold water, inducing thermal shock and freezing Doom in place. In an epilogue, Grimm informs Reed that he has accepted his condition with the help of Alicia Masters, a blind artist for whom he has developed feelings, and the team embraces its role as superheroes. Reed proposes marriage to Sue, who accepts. Meanwhile, Doom’s statue-like remains are being transported back to his homeland of Latveria when the dock master’s electronic manifest briefly undergoes electromagnetic interference, suggesting that Doom is still alive.
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This is a fun movie and I liked it. It had a solid origin story, some good action, and pretty good SFX. Each character was clearly defined

REVIEW: FANTASTIC FOUR: WORLDS GREATEST HEROES

MAIN CAST

Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Lara Gilcrhsit (Defying Gravity)
Christopher Jacot (Mutant X)
Brian Dobson (Dragon Ball Z)
Samuel Vincent (Totally Spies!)
Paul Dobson (Transformers: Armada)
Sunita Prasad (Bates Motel)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Mark Acheson (Elf)
Michael Adamthwaite (Stargate SG.1)
Andrew Kavadas (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)
Venus Terzo (Arrow0
Lee Tockar (Beast Wars)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)

This series, which started in September of 2006, features the four core characters of the series: Reed Richards (a.k.a. Mister Fantastic, a scientist whose body can stretch like rubber and the brains behind the operation), his girlfriend Susan Storm (a.k.a. The Invisible Woman), her younger brother Johnny Storm (a.k.a. The Human Torch), and of course, Benjamin Grimm (better known as the ever lovin’ blue eyed Thing), a rock encrusted strong man. These four live inside the mammoth Baxter Building in the middle of Manhattan where they also have their base of operations and a wide array of technical gadgetry courtesy of Richards’ incessant inventing. They use their powers for good, to protect the people of not only New York but of the world against many different antagonists, specifically their arch-enemy, Doctor Doom.

Marvel, in conjunction with Moonstone Animation, has done a very good job with this series. While the animation is obviously very influenced by Japanese manga and anime, the show is very much in the spirit of the early Lee/Kirby comic book masterpieces and it turns out to be a lot of fun. The fact that the Fantastic Four do more than just square off against Doctor Doom each week leads to encounters with familiar villains such as The Mole Man, The Puppet Master, and even the Super Skrull! Guest appearances from instantly recognizable heroes such as The Hulk, Prince Namor The Submariner, and Iron Man add to the fun but what makes this series work is the way that the writers have nailed the team dynamic so important to the comic book’s success. The stories may be a little simple by some standards and you could make the argument that they’re geared towards a young audience than they maybe need to be but they really are in keeping with the early episodes of the comic books that inspired them and for that reason they turn out to be quite enjoyable doses of action and escapism.

As mentioned, the animation has been inspired by Japanese culture and so the characters don’t always look as Kirby-esqe as purists will probably want them to. Likewise, some of the CGI used in the backgrounds doesn’t blend as flawlessly as it could. That said, Kirby’s sense of grandeur and design is apparent throughout the series in the gadgets, the villains, and many of the backgrounds in the series. The voice actors suit the characters well with Brian Dobson as The Thing really standing out/p>
Ultimately this material isn’t going to blow your mind. It isn’t deep or particularly Earth shattering in any way but it does feel in tune with the source material and as far as superfluous bits of animated entertainment go, it’s just a lot of fun.

REVIEW: THE FANTASTIC FOUR (1994)

CAST

Alex Hyde-White (Pretty Woman)
Jay Underwood (Uncle Buck)
Rebecca Staab (Love Potion No.9)
Michael Bailey Smith (Men In Black 2)
Joseph Culp (Mad Men)
Kat Green (Hits)
Carl Ciarfalio (Species III)
Mercedes McNab (Angel)

 externalReed Richards (Alex Hyde-White) and Victor Von Doom (Joseph Culp) are college friends who use the opportunity of a passing comet to try an experiment; however, the experiment goes wrong, leaving Victor horribly scarred. Sue (Mercedes McNab) and Johnny Storm (Phillip Van Dyke) are two children living with their mother (Annie Gagen), who has a boarding house where Reed lives. Ben Grimm is a family friend and a college buddy of Reed’s.Ten years later, Reed, Sue (Rebecca Staab), Johnny (Jay Underwood), and Ben go up into an experimental spacecraft as the same comet passes by Earth. They are hit by cosmic rays from it, due to a necessary diamond being exchanged for an imitation of itself by the Jeweler. Reed dedicates this mission for his friend Victor, believing he was dead years before.Upon crash-landing on Earth, the four discover that the cosmic rays gave them special powers: Reed’s bodily structure has become elastic; Sue can become invisible; Johnny can generate fire on demand; and Ben has transformed into a creature with stone-like skin: the Thing. They are later captured by Victor’s men, who pose as Marines, and meet villainous monarch Dr. Doom. After escaping from Doom’s men, the four regroup at the Baxter Building, trying to decide what to do now that they have gained superpowers. An angry Ben leaves the group to go out on his own, feeling he has become a freak of nature. He is found by homeless men and joins them in the lair of the Jeweler (Ian Trigger).249619021_640Victor had needed the diamond necessary to capture the comet’s powers. The Jeweler would then give the real diamond to the blind artist Alicia Masters (Kat Green), who was also kidnapped by homeless henchmen working for the Jeweler. The Jeweler wants Alicia to be his bride, with the diamond as his wedding present to her. However, Doom and his henchmen locate the Jeweler’s lair. Doom’s henchmen first try to make a deal with him, to no avail. Doom, displeased, seizes the diamond and threatens to kill Alicia, whereupon Ben enters the room, only to revert to human form. Pursued by Doom, Ben runs out onto the city streets, frustrated at his helplessness. He somehow reverts to the Thing.MV5BNjI0MmNkYjEtYjBlYS00MzE1LTg4YTMtNzY4ZTE1NDFmNDM3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjQ4MTI1NTc@._V1_A gunfight ensues between Doom and the Jeweler’s men. Doom takes the diamond to power a laser cannon that will destroy New York City. Ben returns to his friends; by now, Reed has learned that Doom is actually Victor. Realizing they are the only ones who can stop Doom, they don costumes and travel to Doom’s castle. There, the Fantastic Four battle a series of Doom’s military. Reed has a final battle with Doom, which ends with Doom supposedly committing suicide, though after falling into the fog, his glove, still on the balcony, starts to move. Johnny becomes the Human Torch to stand between the laser cannon’s shot and the city, pushing the beam into outer space. Ben frees Alicia and finally introduces himself to her. She feels the rocky surface of his face but is not fazed by his altered appearance. Thereafter, the Four dedicate themselves to fighting evil, and Reed and Sue marry.Doctor-Doom-Fantastic-Four-1994The Fantastic Four is delightfully cheesy and fun just like many old school cartoons and comics. The budget and FX can’t compare to those of today, but so what? The old school comic book vibe is fantastic. There’s absolutely nothing boring about it. It’s too damn fun to be boring! it’s a  blast of highly entertaining low budget escapism from start to finish.