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Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Surfin' Turd"
1 stars

In what appears to have been a nationwide decision, the powers-that-be at 20th Century Fox decided to keep their latest epic, “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” away from the prying eyes of as many film critics for as long as possible to prevent potentially awful word-of-mouth from spreading for as long as possible–aside from a few benighted folks who were allowed to gaze upon it on the Tuesday before it opened, they were either only allowed to see the film the night before it opened or not at all. This in itself is hardly a shock–they have pulled similar stunts with such recent releases as “Eragon,” “A Night at the Museum” and “Pathfinder” and are apparently doing the same thing with the upcoming “Live Free or Die Hard”–but in the case of this film, it does give one pause. After all, the 2005 original was one of the worst comic-book adaptations ever made–a shrill, noisy and utterly juvenile worked that squandered its source material on dumb jokes, horribly staged action scenes and wildly miscast actors–and yet the studio had enough confidence in its intrinsic quality to show it to critics in a timely fashion. Is it possible that this second go-around could actually be worse than the original? Unfortunately, the answer is yes–if anything, this one is even shriller, noisier and more juvenile than the first film and while it may briefly distract the little kids that it has obviously been pitched at, those hoping that the franchise would somehow right itself this time around are going to walk away from it both unspeakably depressed and legitimately angry at what they have been given.

If you will recall from the first film, our heroes are a quartet of scientists whose genetic structures were altered by some disturbance in outer space–Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) can stretch his body parts as though he were made out of rubber, his longtime sweetie Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) can make herself invisible, create impenetrable force fields and cloud people’s minds with the sight of her body so they don’t notice the patently obvious blue contact lenses she is sporting, her hotshot brother, Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) can transform himself into a walking, talking, flying and wisecracking fireball while Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) has essentially had his entire body turned into solid rock–and who have chosen to use their new powers to fight evil as the superhero media darlings known as the Fantastic Four. As the story opens, Reed and Sue are finally planning to tie the knot after four failed attempts but before they can quite make it to the altar, a new problem rears its ugly head in the former of a mysterious silver-skinned apparition from outer space that zips through the skies on what appears to be a silver surfboard and leaves unimaginable destruction in its wake. Thanks to scientific research and a couple of monologues from the surfer himself (who speaks in the dulcet tones of Laurence Fishburne), we learn he is actually an advance scout for a planet-eating behemoth known as Galactus–he soars throughout the universe looking for viable locations and when he comes across one, Galactus swoops in eight days later and wipes everything out before moving on to the next meal.

Needless to say, this would be a bad thing–though it would presumably prevent the possibility of a “Fantastic Four 3" coming along–and when the Surfer’s latest sojourn busts up Reed and Sue’s wedding, Johnny gives chase and finds that the intruder is not only too fast and powerful to fight, his brief contact with the alien has left his molecules scrambled so that whenever he touches another member of the group, the two involuntarily exchange powers. The four continue to pursue the Silver Surfer throughout the world but when their efforts prove futile, the hot-headed General Hager (Andre Braugher) brings in the Four’s malevolent arch-enemy Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon) on the assumption that his personal knowledge of the Surfer (gleaned from one brief meeting that left Von Doom blasted into the side of a mountain) will be of use in trying to stop him. The plan works–the Surfer is separated from the surfboard that gives him his power and bundled off to Siberia to be tortured by the Army–but it turns out that Von Doom’s benevolence has been a ruse in order to get his hands on that all-powerful surfboard. Now, the gang, along with the Surfer (who has finally learned that destroying planets harboring people who look like Jessica Alba is wrong), has to figure out a way to stop him even as Galactus comes closer and closer to making the planet his latest snack.

Although the first “Fantastic Four” film made enormous sums of money, it was roundly pasted by critics and comic-book fans for its lumpy plotting, fairly unlikable characters, aggressively juvenile tone and director Tim Story’s utter inability to create an action scene that included even vague glimmers of actual excitement. Alas, any hopes that those kinks were ironed out in time for this installment are pretty much dashed here right from the start–if anything, this installment is even more slipshod than before. The narrative is an unholy construction that spends over a half-hour of screen time dealing with such nonsense as the gang trying to get airplane tickets and Johnny arranging a “wild” bachelor party for Reed before getting around to providing an actual action scene in the Surfer-Johnny confrontation. Once again, the characters are either bores (Reed and Sue), drips (Ben and blind girlfriend Kerry Washington) or unlikable, uninteresting boors (Johnny and Von Doom) and they make so little of an impression on the proceedings that you keep waiting in vain for the real heroes and villains to finally arrive. Although the lighter tone of the material is a welcome change of pace from the dourness that has permeated most recent comic-book adaptations, the humor here is aimed squarely at six-year-old kids or anyone who finds the idea of a giant rock-man belching amusing–this is really annoying as the most fascinating aspect of the “Fantastic Four” universe, the idea that they are well-known media sensations who more or less embrace their celebrity status, is once again shunted to the wayside. And as for the action scenes, there are times here when it seems as if Story is actually regressing as a director in regards to such material–outside of the effect of the Silver Surfer himself, all of the fight scenes are slapped together in such a slipshod matter that it becomes virtually impossible to determine what the hell is going on at any given time.

That said, it is the handling of the Silver Surfer that will probably raise the most ire among comic book fans. The character has been a cult favorite among hipsters ever since debuting in the 1960's –the Richard Gere remake of “Breathless” was a virtual mash note to the comics and when Quentin Tarantino was hired to do a screenplay polish on “Crimson Tide,” one of the scenes he included was one that offered an extended analysis of his importance–and many have tried and failed over the years to get a Silver Surfer movie off the ground. To see this potentially fascinating character and his origin story folded into the sequel to another superhero franchise is bad enough but the screenplay doesn’t even try to take advantage of the pairing. You might readily expect, given the premise of the film, at least one massive battle between the Fantastic Four and the Surfer. Amazingly, the film even cheats out on that seemingly surefire moment–during a big would-be confrontation in London, the gang is too busy preventing a Ferris Wheel collapse to even notice him flying around. To be fair, the visual effects representing the Silver Surfer are very impressive–easily the most worthwhile element of the film (outside of the low-cut dress that Alba sort of wears at one point while doing lab work, an outfit that she completes with a pair of those glasses that startlingly gorgeous women always wear in movies like this in order to remind us that they are supposed to be smart)–but since the film never really does anything with the character, you may find yourself wondering why they bothered including him into the mix in the first place.

“Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” is a real dead bulb of a film and easily the most useless of the current crop of summer blockbusters. It isn’t funny, it isn’t exciting and there is never a single moment when you get the idea that anyone involved with the project wanted to make anything other than the blandest and most anonymous product possible. In fact, when you consider both the potential of the Silver Surfer material and the amount of time and money that went into making it, there is a distinct possibility that this may be the single lamest comic book adaptation to hit the big screen since the first “Fantastic Four” and bear in mind that I have seen “Ghost Rider.”

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15530&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/15/07 01:51:07
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User Comments

9/22/14 jeff This sucked 1 stars
2/20/14 brian I love the Silver Surfer. This is barely him. Reboot. 3 stars
10/28/13 Sissy Gifford Ugh. Low humor, predictable plot, and absolutely no heart. Skip this one. 2 stars
11/19/10 fartvenugen mind numbingly pooptastic 1 stars
8/01/08 mr.mike Saw it on cable, better than the first one, more humor.. 4 stars
6/21/08 David V Could've been as bad as the first one. 3 stars
10/19/07 Pauline Burns Who's the Silver Surfer? Loved him!! Great film! 4 stars
10/16/07 mb Goofy Fun 3 stars
10/01/07 Andrew Kercher Fun, but corny and overdone. Good SFX but some bad acting. 3 stars
9/14/07 dude fantastic bore 1 stars
8/11/07 Jimmy Close Encounters I want a Silver Surfer -- serious, dark, philosophical, riveting 3 stars
8/04/07 dave Much better than Spiderman 3 - more fun, zero crying scenes, great SFX. Great popcorn film. 4 stars
8/02/07 Angie This movie is the epitome of teh word "crap" 1 stars
7/21/07 mike pretty lame. the previews looked kinda cool but this was just boring with a gay ending 1 stars
7/07/07 Tom Servo It's the Fantastic 4-the lamest league of super losers ever created by Marvel= F- 1 stars
7/03/07 Galactus One awful movie for 2007, Could sweep the Raspberry awards! 1 stars
7/02/07 Lewis Shuler Those five Stars are for "SS" ONLY. as for the rest"1" 5 stars
7/02/07 Jan Enjoyable. A lot better than I expected 4 stars
6/30/07 Bloody Hell I commend you for your ability to sit through that piece of shit. 1 stars
6/28/07 Ole Man Bourbon The FX seemed behind that of Terminator 2. Boring and silly. 2 stars
6/28/07 JLP with I character like SS, it had GREAT potential, too bad for the unimaginative writters. 1 stars
6/24/07 Dc sux blls the writer doesnt knoww a dam thing about marvel galactus isnt a fucking cloud, dicks 4 stars
6/24/07 Kabuki_Jo Pathetic review. The movie, besides a few plotholes, is great 4 stars
6/23/07 Batman1955 Made me glad I'm a DC fan 2 stars
6/23/07 aidan great film loved it it was brill u could say that i would give it 4 and a half BRILLENT!! 4 stars
6/23/07 Marvel Zombie Dumb, cheesy, forgettable. Alba's ass looks great, it's just not worth it 1 stars
6/22/07 Dan Great comic fun. I don't understand why it's fashionable to dislike FF but laud Spiderman. 5 stars
6/21/07 Nine A drepressing waste of a few hours 1 stars
6/21/07 Phil Kuhla Tell Stan Lee to stop making Marvel movies because 90% of them suck!!! 1 stars
6/18/07 Moni The Silver Surfer had the potential to be cool...mishandled and miscasted! 2 stars
6/17/07 bullit16 Truly, truly awful 1 stars
6/17/07 MP Bartley Better than Spider-Man 3. Go figure. 3 stars
6/15/07 Joebo The Roger Corman Film with a new title! 3 stars
6/15/07 D Unbelievably bad, and not in the "its so bad its good" sense either 1 stars
6/15/07 Blizz Even WORSE than the first one! I didn't think that was possible!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
6/15/07 Vincent Ebriega Good as a summer action blockbuster, and not a source of much sense. 3.5/5. 3 stars
6/15/07 Saladhats Fantastic Hugs: Rise of the Lame 1 stars
6/15/07 Anthony G Worst movie in years, and that's saying alot. I am a surfer fan, and this movie is trash. 1 stars
6/15/07 DonnyM worst Movie of the Year. Worst Comic Book Movie. 1 stars
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  15-Jun-2007 (PG)
  DVD: 02-Oct-2007

  15-Jun-2007 (PG)

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