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Commentaries on DVD add spice to movie-watching experience

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:46 PM

I'm a sucker for DVD extras.

It's not unusual for me to rewatch a movie with the cast or director commentary going. I'll even admit to sometimes watching the special features when I first get a DVD before rewatching the film in its entirety.

Not all the extras are great or worth the money. "The Empire Strikes Back" cast and crew commentary is comprised of sound bites from previous interviews, most of which I had heard or read already, that had been spliced together. I turned that one off after 30 minutes.

The best commentaries are recorded live with several people watching the film together. That environment inspires a natural conversation with off-hand comments, recollections of the filming process and anecdotes.

Such is the case with the 2005 film "Fantastic Four." The commentary features three-quarters of the actors playing the super hero group: Jessica Alba (Sue Storm), Michael Chiklis (Ben Grimm) and Ioan Gruffudd (Reed Richards). Just like in the film, the trio has a natural chemistry and shared a lot of laughs.

In honor of "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" being released in theaters Friday, here are some of the most interesting insights in the original movie's commentary.

Alba mentioned the sequel, but her fellow actors "shushed" her. She said she was excited about the Fantasticar and wondered what automotive company would make it. There were no takers on that bet.

Gruffudd used his natural Welch accent throughout the commentary, a departure from the American scientist he plays. He said he had to take the script home to memorize his lines phonetically. Gruffudd admitted it threw him off if the script was changed suddenly on the day of filming.

His first scene with Alba was at the beginning of the movie when Reed and Sue have an intimate dinner at Dr. Doom's complex. Because it took three days to film, Gruffudd and Alba said they went from being uncomfortable with each other to "three years of (a) relationship" and were tired of seeing each other.

Gruffudd recalled doing 30 takes with Alba in another scene because of "the accent."

Chiklis said he had a great time with actor Chris Evans, despite Johnny Storm constantly harassing his character. "I'll be the brunt of his jokes any day," he said.

"Everyday he made me laugh. We all had fun," Alba added.

Evans told Chiklis he was exhausted after shooting the scenes running around the Doom complex with a pink winter coat wrapped around his waist because he was tightening his stomach muscles the entire time. Chiklis, 41 at the time, said he was nervous about being shirtless in a different scene after seeing Evans, 26, who is "ripped to shreds."

Chiklis called actor Julian McMahon, who plays an intense Dr. Doom, "a total goofball." Alba said McMahon used a "Dr. Evil voice" to say his lines off-camera when Doom asks Alba's character to marry him.

She complimented McMahon, whom she said has "crazy eyes," on doing so many scenes by himself or looking into a mirror.

Alba called stripping on the Brooklyn Bridge set "the worst day of my life." The shapely actress said she wanted the scene to be comedic, not sexual.

Chiklis classified the bridge set in the "you know you're in a big Hollywood movie category" because the crew made 75 to 100 feet of the bridge with a half-mile track running around it. There were five weeks of filming for the action-packed sequence.

"I felt lonely because you (Gruffudd and Alba) were off doing other things and I was there essentially with a lot of background folks," Chiklis said.

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