Worth A Look: 20.21%
Just Average: 27.66%
Pretty Crappy: 17.02%
9 reviews, 40 user ratings
|Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer
The makers of 'Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer' have managed to improve their storytelling from the first movie and to come up with a more intriguing antagonist for superheroes to subdue. But that’s like saying that “Ghost Rider” improves when viewed in the IMAX format.Perhaps even “Gigli” looks better that way as well, but the fundamental problems with the first movie haven’t gone away, and the flaws become more glaring because director Tim Story has allowed them to remain.
"Let's see this in the print ads: 'It sucks less than the first one.'"
For example, Jessica Alba is still playing the Sue Storm, the Invisible Girl. Any acting skills she might possess have remained unseen as well.
Sue and the rest of the quartet have to figure out why a bunch of large holes are appearing across the planet.
I wish I were making that up.
These holes are accompanied by oceans turning solid and snow falling on the Pyramids of Giza, Egypt.
Naturally only Sue’s vain, workaholic fiancé Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) a.k.a. the incredibly flexible Mr. Fantastic, can determine what’s going on. For those unfamiliar with the comics or the movie series, he’s a brilliant scientist when he’s not literally stretching himself out.
Her brother Johnny “The Human Torch” Storm (Chris Evans) is too busy trying to snare corporate endorsements of their adventures to notice that a serious crisis is brewing. This joke about product placement was not funny in the first movie and becomes less so upon repetition.
Their pal Ben “The Thing” Grimm (Michael Chiklis) also thinks something important is brewing, but he’s also trying to develop his growing romance with the blind sculptor Alicia Masters (Kerry Washington). Despite how his skin might feel to the touch, it’s hard for him not to love a woman who doesn’t mind that he looks like a pile of rocks.
At the request of a skeptical but concerned general (Andre Braugher), the four discover that the disturbances are caused by an enigmatic space alien that Johnny dubs The Silver Surfer (Doug Jones, who played a few creatures in “Pan’s Labyrinth,” and Laurence Fishburne’s appropriately god-like voice).
The extraterrestrial can manipulate the weather and easily neutralize anyone who tries to attack him. Worse, Reed discovers that any planet the Surfer visits dies eight days later.
The Silver Surfer is a favorite of Marvel Comics fans, so Story deserves credit for rendering him in a compelling manner. While the Surfer can cause a lot of damage, his sympathetic backstory makes him fascinating to watch, even when he’s a floating WMD. Jones and Fishburne also give him as stoic, intimidating bearing.
The same cannot be said for Julian McMahon’s take on Dr. Doom. As with the last movie, credited screenwriters Don Payne and Mark Frost don’t give him much to work with. Nonetheless, his bland, hammy take on the role offers little in the way of actual menace.
“Rise of the Silver Surfer” runs only about 91 minutes, but the filmmakers don’t use the time as judiciously as they could. At the risk of revealing a spoiler, there’s a brief sequence where the Fantastic Four’s co-creator Stan Lee is turned away from Reed and Sue’s wedding.
It’s tempting to say that the scene is a metaphor for what happens to Lee’s original vision, but Story and the screenwriters actually attempt to capture part of the appeal of the comic books.
Lee and artist Jack Kirby imagined the Four as a type of dysfunctional family whose internal squabbling occasionally endangered their missions. As a result, their stories became more involving because the Four behaved more like real people.
The inter-squad feuding is here, but Story and his crew handle it poorly. Instead of having the bickering unfold before our eyes, the filmmakers choose to telegraph it for us with long series of ineffective wisecracks. Alicia tells Johnny he’s jealous of her relationship with Ben. He retorts, “Have you seen my girlfriend?”
She replies, “No.”
Just in case you haven’t noticed the frantic waving of actress Washington’s hands, Alicia is blind.
Despite the big budget, the special effects and makeup occasionally look like special effects and makeup instead of visions of wonder. Despite Chiklis’ solid performance, the Thing prosthetics make him appear as if he has a skin disease, and Alba’s eerie blue contact lenses make her appear as if she’s possessed like the kids in “Village of the Damned.” Her brown eyes would have been more than adequate on their own.
Reed’s stretching effects look more goofy than awe-inspiring as does Galactus, the force that the Surfer serves. In the comic books, he had a face, but in the movie he looks like a dull intergalactic blob.As someone who grew up reading the Fantastic Four, I’d still like to see a movie that captures how fun they were in print. Until then, it’s best to sit back and watch Pixar’s much smarter and more engaging rip-off “The Incredibles.”
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originally posted: 06/15/07 07:57:19
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