Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The Fantastic Four had always been my favorite comic book, but not so much for the four themselves, though the fact that they are a family and that they don’t have some anonymous alter ego was unique and very cool at the time. No, the thing that made the FF my book was the fact that they had the best villains. Victor Von Doom is just an awful murderous, vile, despotic, psychopathic all around despicable dude. Galactus – the devour of worlds - is alone responsible for the deaths of more individuals than anybody in the history of anything. The Skrulls only purpose in life in to conquer and destroy the earth, not to mention the Super Skrull, whose powers you may want to keep in mind as you watch this new Fantastic Four film. Most of Spiderman’s villains are fairly lame, Kraven, Electro, the Lizard…Come on. The Brotherhood of evil Mutants aren’t really so evil in that they would much rather just be left alone as long as you recognize their superiority, but alas those pesky mutie haters won’t allow it. The Avengers do have Ultron who is about as bad as they come, but he’s no Dr. Doom. When someone is robbing a bank I’ll call Spiderman, but when I need an ultimate molecule nullifier to send some all powerful, unstoppable god-like being into the negative zone, and I need it yesterday, then you KNOW I have Reed Richards on speed dial. So from 20th Century Fox we have ‘Fantastic Four – Rise of the Silver Surfer’, which brings back Doom and introduces the character of Galactus. With so much outstanding villainy on display, this leads us to the question – how bad can it be?

As we catch up with our heroes, they are super celebs as well as super heroes with the nation all abuzz about the upcoming wedding between Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) and Sue Storm (Jessica Alba). Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) is still gruff but his relationship with the blind artist Alicia Masters (Kerri Washington) is growing and Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) is still a hot headed loose cannon trying to find a way to

get paid. Amidst Sue trying to find the right china patterns there are some odd anomalies occurring around the planet which include the freezing of oceans, snow in the desert and huge craters appearing in various spots. Satellite photos have tracked what looks to be a silver meteorite in the vicinity of these anomalies, but Reed knows it ain’t no damn meteorite. Hostile Army General Hager (Andre Braugher) has tapped Reed to build a device to track this thing and neutralize it, but this thing doesn’t like being tracked and it literally crashes Reed and Sue’s wedding. As this being takes off, the Human Torch chases it, encounters it and almost gets himself killed by it. What Reed is able to glean from the cosmic path of this Silver Surfer (voiced by Laurence Fishburne) is that it leaves dead planets in its wake and earth is next on its list of planets to destroy.

Of course we all know that the Surfer isn’t the destroyer, he’s just the prep guy setting the table for the REALLY bad dude. Miracle of miracles, Victor von Doom (Julian McMahon) who the four had though died in the first film is alive, well and also tracking the Surfer but for his own megalomaniacal ends. Thinking Reed isn’t smart enough (?) to save the planet on his own, General Hagen enlist the services of Doom to assist Reed in stopping the Surfer, which probably isn’t brightest thing in the world to do. With Galactus mere hours away, the Silver Surfer completely wrecking fools, and Dr. Doom insane as ever with a plan to rule a world that won’t exist by sunrise, Will the Fantastic Four be able to rise to the occasion and save the humanity? Film at seven.

I happen to be one of the few who actually liked the first ‘Fantastic Four’ film. I didn’t think it was great, but I did think it was solid entertainment and I’m someone who you could probably label a Fantastic Four snob. This sequel, though packed with more special effects and action sequences, really isn’t any better than the first film in my opinion, and I find that disappointing. Director Tim Story, who also helmed the first film, slices this film to a relatively brief 92 minutes, and in this short time we treated to relatively long stretches of tedium as our heroes attempt to relate to each other in forced and unbelievable ways, punctuated by scenes of spectacular mayhem and never shall these two elements merge to form a single coherent movie. Some of the same problems that were in the first movie remain in the second like Julian McMahon being a completely awful rendition of Dr. Doom. With his evil cutting eyes he’s way more Snidley Whipflash from Dudley Do Right than the evil lord of Latveria. Ioan Gruffudd’s presentation of Reed Richards is still far too tame, timid and weak to be taken seriously as the leader of the ‘Worlds Greatest Heroes’. I saw ‘King Arthur’ and I know Gruffudd can be much harder than this. Jessica Alba and Chris Evans still seem to be about as closely related as Swarzenegger and DeVito and what was up with those blue contacts they stuck in the ordinarily absolutely beautiful Jessica Alba’s eyes?

The special effects were greatly improved in this version however, the voice of Laurence Fishburne as the Surfer with the few lines he uttered was powerful and had impact. With the exception of a few lulls here and the film did hum along at reasonable pace and couldn’t be classified as dull, and it was also reasonably family friendly.

‘Rise of the Silver Surfer’ wasn’t a bad movie as it’s practically bad movie proof with all the good elements it has within it, but it seems that it should still be better than it is. Ultimately this is an inoffensive, cute, fun film to take the kids to on a hot summer day and then completely discard it from memory after you leave the theater, which is too bad because the potential is there for this series to much better than that.

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