The Marvel Movies: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
An improvement over the last film but still hardly a superhero classic, “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” still suffers from the same issues as its predecessor did: its creators.
Yes, Tim Story returned to direct the “Fantastic Four” sequel, hiring veteran character actor (and Indianapolis native) Doug Jones to embody the Silver Surfer, although Laurence Fishburne provided his voice.
The story this time out: On the eve of Reed Richards’ (Ioan Gruffud) and Sue Storm’s (Jessica Alba) wedding, cosmic disturbances across the globe are slowly tearing Earth apart.
The culprit? The mysterious Silver Surfer, who, it turns out, is the herald for the planet-eating creature Galactus. Oh, and the Surfer has summoned Galactus, alerting him to Earth’s location.
The Surfer is an enigmatic, noble creature who only helps Galactus to save his own planet and the woman he loves. He has a connection with Sue, whom the Surfer says reminds him of his beloved, and has a change of heart regarding Earth’s suitability as an intergalactic snack.
Unfortunately, the Army, led by a smarmy general (Andre Braugher), has its own designs on the Surfer, as does Dr. Doom (Julian McMahon), who weasels his way into the Army’s good graces.
Meanwhile, Johnny (Chris Evans, warming up for his main event as Captain America) makes contact with the Surfer, and his cosmic powers wreak havoc with Johnny’s, causing him to switch powers with whichever member of the Four he touches.
Yes, the Silver Surfer/Galactus story was more engaging than anything in the previous film, but we still have an over-reliance on the day-to-day of being a superhero family. So we get Reed making creative use of his power on an airline flight, then stretchy dancing with hotties at his bachelor party, Ben (Michael Chiklis) unleashing massive belches on unsuspecting poofy-haired party dudes, and Johnny angling to sell wedding photos to tabloids and declaring “I don’t fly coach” as he flames on and flies next to the FF’s plane.
There is one amusing gag involving Reed at his party, as he’s explaining the Big Bang to a group of women a little too excited that he can elongate his fingers. But otherwise it’s the same old same old of cheap, run-time-padding gags, obvious lines and uninspired action scenes.
McMahon remains perhaps the single most mystifying casting choice of any major character from any Marvel movie, still playing Doom as a slimy weasel rather than the all-powerful dictator he should be.
Then we get to Galactus. In the comics he’s more or less a giant man. which the suits at Fox just couldn’t handle. Instead, he’s realized here as more or less a giant cloud, though we get hints via shadows and shrouded glimpses that there’s perhaps something inside the cloud that looks familiar.
We do get a little more geeky, with Reed unveiling the Fantasticar (though he’s sure to mention it’s a Hemi for a little product placement) and a final battle featuring Dr. Doom (with the power of the Surfer’s board) vs. Johnny with the combined powers of the Four.
“Rise of the Silver Surfer” is maddeningly average, another lazily constructed film that could and should have been leagues better than it was. But hey, it could have been the first film, right?
Next time: Heavy boots of lead, fills his victims full of dread!
Previous Marvel Movie Entries
Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Conan the Destroyer (1984)
Red Sonja (1985)
Howard the Duck (1986)
The Punisher (1989)
Captain America (1990)
The Fantastic Four (1994)
Blade II (2002)
X2: X-Men United (2003)
The Punisher (2004)
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Blade Trinity (2004)
Fantastic Four (2005)
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Ghost Rider (2007)
Spider-Man 3 (2007)