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Commentary, Lead Commentary

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 (1998)
X-Men (2000)
Blade II (2002)
Spider-Man (2002)
Daredevil (2003)
X2: X-Men United (2003)
Hulk (2003)

The Punisher (2004)
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Blade Trinity (2004)
Elektra (2005)
Fantastic Four (2005)
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

Ghost Rider (2007)
Spider-Man 3 (2007)

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5 Responses to “The Marvel Movies: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)”

  1. [...] 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 (1998) X-Men (2000) Blade II (2002) Spider-Man (2002) Daredevil (2003) X2: X-Men United (2003) Hulk (2003) The Punisher (2004) Spider-Man 2 (2004) Blade Trinity (2004) Elektra (2005) Fantastic Four (2005) X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) Ghost Rider (2007) Spider-Man 3 (2007) Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) [...]

  2. Andy Holzman says:

    Joe, you hit the nail on the head. It was maddening the difference in quality between the 1st 2 Spidey films and the 1st 2 FF films. Yes, this 2nd film was so much better but still suffered from too little story, too little action and too many pretty people posing for the camera or trying to be 21st century hip. I think the director missed the truth in the story of the FF.

  3. Travis Bow says:

    I still like this one. Sure the acting was over-the-top, a lot of effects were wasted on day-to-day activities, and the third act had a big Dodge commercial. But the Surfer makes this movie for me. I enjoy it for his scenes, and I really enjoy the Surfer Doom fight at the end.

  4. Joe Shearer says:

    You’re right Craig. I don’t think FF needs to be edgy, but Tim Story and co. went WAY overboard in being silly, to the point of making them jokes. I would have been good with these films if they’d just toned those things down a little. And replaced Julian McMahon as Dr. Doom with someone who can do something with the character, and rewrite the character a bit.

  5. Craig says:

    Yup yup. Leaps and bounds better as far as being a better story but over all, still not great. I feel like of the Marvel properties this one would be the hardest to get right no matter what. The comic book itself is kinda hokey. Yeah there are plenty of story arcs that have more serious tones to them, but they’re a bit sparce. The family dynamic that they strive to keep in the stories is both what sets them apart as a super-team but I’d also say it’s their weakness when it comes to keeping edgy stories.