Movie Reviews

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Rating: 7 out of 10
Movie Details: View here

Cast:
Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards
Jessica Alba as Sue Storm
Chris Evans as Johnny Storm
Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm
Julian McMahon as Victor Von Doom
Kerry Washington as Alicia Masters
Andre Braugher as General Hager
Laurence Fishburne as The Silver Surfer (voice)
Doug Jones as The Silver Surfer
Beau Garrett as Captain Raye
Brian Posehn as Wedding Minister
Zach Grenier as Mr. Sherman/Rafke

Summary:
While by no means perfect, "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" is better than the first film. It features more humor, less camp, better action sequences, and the addition of the Surfer. Comic fans will be very unhappy with the portrayal of Galactus, though.

Story:
Some time after the first "Fantastic Four" film, Reed and Sue prepare for their big wedding. As the day approaches, they are plagued by the press, distractions from work, and pre-wedding jitters. But all of that is minor compared to the arrival of the Silver Surfer. The alien visitor wreaks havoc around the planet and causes widespread panic. Little does anyone realize that he's the herald of a bigger threat to come.

To further complicate matters, Doctor Doom returns from being a frozen statue to further pester our heroes. He is brought in to help deal with the threat of the Silver Surfer, but can Doom really be trusted?

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

What Worked:
I have to admit that I wasn't expecting much from "Rise of the Silver Surfer." I was pretty disappointed with the first film and the rumors I was hearing about the sequel had me dreading another disaster. The Galactus saga is one of my all-time favorite comic stories and I was expecting to see it butchered on the big screen. But after having seen it, it wasn't all that bad. It definitely had problems, but I'd say it was better than the first "Fantastic Four" film.

Everything that worked in the first movie is still here. Chris Evans is still a great Johnny Storm and his horseplay with The Thing is still fun comedy relief. They have also emphasized the humor and dropped the camp. A running gag about our heroes switching powers provides some amusing moments, too. Johnny dragging Reed to a bachelor party leads to a fun dance scene with Mr. Fantastic (the second Marvel musical number this summer!). The special effects are also grander and the action scenes are a lot better. They've definitely taken advantage of a bigger budget. In short, the creators seem to have taken most of the criticisms of the first film to heart. The end result is a better film.

Obviously a major addition to the series is the Silver Surfer. He's kind of a mixed bag. He looks exactly like he does in the comics. Scenes of him floating in space should send Surfer comic fans into happy little squeals of glee. However, when he flies around Earth, he looks a little too much like the T-1000 for comfort. The added effect of him flying through objects or morphing with his board further emphasizes the similarities (and further changes him from the comics). However, late in the film he loses his shine and interacts more physically with our heroes. It's those scenes where he looks the best and I suspect a lot of it was makeup effects, not CG. Laurence Fishburne was also OK as the voice, but he had very few lines in the film. The real question is whether or not he was good enough to prompt a Silver Surfer solo movie. To be honest, he was a bit dry in "Rise of the Silver Surfer," but I think there's potential for a good sci-fi adventure with him.

One final geek note - Frankie Raye appears in this movie, but she does not become Nova as you might expect. It was a nice touch to add her, though.

If I had the first film to rate over again, I'd give it a 6 out of 10 rather than a 7. I think I was a bit generous rating the first movie a 7. I definitely feel this sequel was a step up from its predecessor, but it didn't rate an 8. So that's why I've landed on a rating of 7 for "FF2."

What Didn't Work:
The biggest problem with "Rise of the Silver Surfer" is Galactus. Comic fans are going to be utterly appalled with how he is portrayed in this movie. Needless to say, I wasn't happy with it either. I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying what he looks like because he can be seen in the opening scene of the film. He's actually a cosmic cloud, believe it or not. I understand what the creators were thinking. They were trying to create a menace of galactic proportions and they thought a purple giant would look stupid. But I truly believe the comic version of Galactus could have been made to work. The final version of Galactus is even less menacing than the tornadoes in "Twister." Even worse is how Galactus is defeated by our heroes. It ends up making no sense whatsoever and is one of the biggest plot holes of the film. I was really disappointed.

I was also disappointed by the blatant product placement in the film. Thing holds a Slurpee, Sue watches E! News, etc etc etc. Johnny even makes fun of it at one point by pulling out a suit covered in product endorsements. But things take an absurd dimension when the Fantasticar shows up covered in Dodge logos. Johnny even asks if it has a hemi. It was just too much.

On a final note, Jessica Alba's blue contact lenses just look plain creepy on the big screen. With all the other departures from the comic books, I would have been OK with them giving Sue brown eyes rather than blue.

The Bottom Line:
If you liked the first "Fantastic Four" film, you'll probably enjoy the sequel even more. Even if you didn't care for the first film, you may find this one worth giving a second chance.

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