Buena Vista Home Video presents
Fantasic Four: The Complete 1994-1995 Animated Television Series (1994-1995)
"Call the Four... Fantastic Four"- from the Season One theme song
Stars: Beau Weaver, Lori Alan, Quinton Flynn, Chuck McCann, Stan Lee, Brian Austin Green, Simon Templeman, Tony Jay
Other Stars: Kathy Ireland, Neil Ross, John Vernon, Brad Garrett, Mark Hamill, Michael Dorn, John Rhys-Davies, Keith David, Ron Perlman, Dick Clark
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 09h:30m:00s
Release Date: 2005-07-05
DVD ReviewNo doubt inspired by the critical success of Batman: The Animated Series in 1992, Marvel tried to play catch up and flop onto the hip and cool bandwagon by unsuccessfully reintroducing the Fantastic Four in 1994, in a series that lasted just two seasons. This four-disc set from Buena Vista Home Entertainment collects all 26 episodes of the show's run, and ends up not just riding the coattails of the new feature film, but highlighting what a shoddy product this was in the first place.
It's no fault of icons Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, because the storylines of those F4 comics were regular treats for me back in the day, even if they always seemed like second-tier characters that lacked the mainstream cachet of the bigger Marvel heroes. I think that was part of the attraction for me originally, and decades later came this missed opportunity to imbue the Fantastic Four with a new, darker edginess. Instead, what came out of the marketing meat grinder was a cheaply made first season of godawful animation, a horribly stiff and choppy job that lacked of the neo-retro style of the new Batman series. There was a laughably lame theme song, thankfully changed by the start of Season Two to something a bit more fitting (with the animation also making a marked improvement), but by then it was too little too late.
Borrowing closely from the comics for storylines was one of the only saving graces throughout the clunky first season and into the second, though with the varied range of familiar characters (Dr. Doom, Galactus, Sub-Mariner, The Hulk, Thor, Daredevil, Silver Surfer) not being enough to ever fully overcompensate for the purely uninventive animation that sank this show like a stone. While the second season tightened up the animation somewhat, with plots that tried to be a little more intense, there remained an overriding sense of this being nothing more than cheap filler trying to pass as something hipper than it was.
Am I being too hard on an animated series (re: cartoon) about comic book super heroes? If I was eight years old the answer would be probably no, but why is it that something like Batman can be converted into a slick series that can surge with a fresh new look and writing that can appeal to a large cross-section, but Marvel can't get it together for the Fantastic Four?
This animated series was a huge disappointment in so many ways, with so many squandered moments that I can't imagine it was ever given the proper backing to be anything other than a second-rate offering to make a quick buck.
Rating for Style: D-
Rating for Substance: C
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: All 26 episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1, and, like the content, there is a noticeable change between seasons one and two, though neither are especially fantastic. Season One eps seem to have a fair amount of dirt, and the overall coloring seems faded in certain spots. Season Two is something of an improvement, with stronger colors and generally cleaner prints, but there is a softness to this set of eps.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: Audio is provided by a very basic 2.0 surround mix that offers a largely front-centric presentation, and not much in the way of glitz. Dialogue remains discernible and clear at all times, with a very light bottom end.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 26 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Chicken Little, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, Spider-Man: The '67 Collection
Packaging: Tri-Fold Amaray with slipcase
Extras Review: The packaging is nice-looking on this four-disc slipcased set, but the extras are almost nonexistent. There are optional episode intros by Stan Lee, in which the legendary comic book genius gets overly excited about the upcoming installment, while Disc 1 contains the only other extra: Stan Lee's Soapbox (07m:45s). This is a somewhat more subdued Lee, talking about the comic origins, etc., and fans of Lee have probably heard the stories a million times before.
Each episode is one chapter, with optional English subtitles.
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsThe slick packaging is like perfume on a pig, because the content is sub par all the way through. Nostalgic value is questionable, but probably represents the only reason to pick this up. Sloppy, stiff animation overpowers a nice mix of voice talent and familiar comic characters that simply becomes handcuffed to the poor visual scope of the show.
Rich Rosell 2005-07-04