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Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer Movie Review

'Surfer' Wipes Out

About.com Rating 1.5 Star Rating

By

I could choose any one of a number of words to sum up Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and fantastic wouldn’t be one of them. Campy makes more sense, as do mediocre, puerile and forgettable. Only two things save the film from being a complete disaster: Chris Evans and the Silver Surfer effects. Evans is the only member of the cast who injects any energy into the movie, and watching the Silver Surfer soar is pretty spectacular. Without these elements, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer would just be a whiny, woe-is-me gabfest occasionally broken up by a few action sequences.

The Story

The Silver Surfer, so dubbed by Reed Richards/Mr Fantastic because he’s silver and rides a surfboard, leaves a path of destruction in his wake as he travels from planet to planet. Earth’s his current target in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and as fate would have it, he chooses the wedding day of Mr Fantastic and Sue Storm/Invisible Woman to announce his arrival to stunned New Yorkers whose main concerns in life seem to be keeping track of the Fantastic nuptials.

Sue spends the rest of the movie moaning about how the Silver Surfer so tactlessly decided on her wedding day to make an appearance in the Big Apple, effectively quashing the ceremony before its completion by upstaging the bride-to-be and commandeering the attention of her future husband.

Interrupted before they can exchange vows, the unhappy couple along with The Human Torch and The Thing agree to help the US military deal with this unearthly intruder. Of course that means the wedding must be put on hold and a honeymoon’s definitely out of the question. And if they don’t come up with a way to destroy the Silver Surfer in eight days, Sue and Reed can forget about the idea of ever having little rubbery invisible kids.

The Acting and Special Effects

As Johnny Storm/The Human Torch, Chris Evans does it all in FF2. He’s got the best effects, the best action sequences, and the best lines. As with the first Fantastic Four movie, Evans does a great job of taking on the task of providing comic relief, with Michael Chiklis as The Thing the frequent target of his jokes once again.

Chris Evans and The Silver Surfer Photo - Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer Movie

Chris Evans and The Silver Surfer (voiced by Laurence Fishburne) in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

The chemistry that was needed and missing between Jessica Alba and Ioan Gruffudd the first time around is also completely non-existent in Rise of the Silver Surfer. Alba and Gruffudd are the weak links in FF2, and unfortunately their characters have the most screen time.

Also returning from the first film is Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck) as Victor Von Doom. The way he’s brought back from the ‘dead’ doesn’t really make sense, but at least while McMahon’s onscreen he ups the quality of the acting.

My main issue with the acting of the four major players is that unlike Batman Returns, the X-Men movies, the Spider-Man series, and even The Punisher, the leads always act like they’re part of a comic-book inspired production. Granted, the tone of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is much more light-hearted and bubblegum-ish than any of the other film franchises, but the Fantastic Four bunch just don’t sell the characters as people. They’re just caricatures, and it’s not solely the fault of the actors. When they’re delivering lines of dialogue that are incredible hokey and stilted – even in the comic book movie universe – it’s difficult to make a connection with the material.

The special effects are the standard fare we’ve come to expect of huge budget CGI productions. There’s nothing earth-shattering about what Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer does in the visual effects department, other than the presence of the Silver Surfer. The Silver Surfer’s stunning to look at and the movements are beautifully rendered as he soars through the skies. Doug Jones’ performance of the character is first-rate. But the main villain, Galactus, is just a big storm cloud which is kind of a letdown after all the doom and gloom build-up.

The Bottom Line

I’ve never picked up a Fantastic Four comic book in my life and have no plans to start reading them anytime soon. Without a background in the world of Fantastic Four, a lot of my questions remained unanswered at the end of the film. Why does the arrival of the Silver Surfer cause some electrical appliances and even a helicopter to stop working, while other gadgets remain unaffected? Why are some of the Fantastic Four able to keep their clothing on when their bodies transform? There’s a cute bit with The Human Torch swapping powers with his super buddies, yet when some of his compadres get all flamely, they still have their clothes on once they’ve cooled off. Of course the only female of the group is the one that winds up completely naked (the filmmakers know their target audience well). And while I’m discussing Alba as the female version of The Human Torch, I’d like to know why her breasts appeared to have been enhanced during the scenes of her on fire sans clothing. My husband explains it by saying they were inflamed… Whatever.

Too much time is wasted on petty personal problems and not enough attention is paid to saving the planet. That should have been the main focus of the film but instead Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer bogs down by concentrating on a wedding. Bad dialogue, bad acting, and a boring storyline make Fantastic Four 2 just one more entry in a growing list of unnecessary and ill-conceived sequels.

GRADE: D+

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is rated PG for sequences of action violence, some mild language and innuendo.

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