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Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Genre: Action/Adventure
Rated: PG
Directed by:
Tim Story
Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon
Released by: Twentieth Century Fox

In Short: Despite edging out the first film, Fantastic Four 2 is still oh-so-groaningly by the numbers.

Fantastic Flub
Slight Rise in Quality
by Matt Kane

One of the redeeming features about sequels to movies based on comic books is the fact that they’ve gotten the typically tedious “origin story” out of the way, and can get on with the more entertaining business of people in silly costumes throwing FX at one another.  This was among the biggest problems with the first Fantastic Four film, and hopes were high that its inevitable sequel would improve over its predecessor, as was the case in the X-Men and Spiderman franchises.  Unfortunately, while it does qualify as an improvement, Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer has little to recommend beyond that.

The story starts off with the titular heroic foursome preparing for the impending nuptials of Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffud) and the Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba), while dealing with their newfound celebrity status.  It isn’t long before the very literally named Silver Surfer shows up to signal the end of the world, the military gets involved, and the villainous Dr. Doom is resurrected for no other reason than to have Julian McMahon fulfill his contractual sequel obligation and give everyone something to hit during the finale.

Fantastic Four
Michael Chiklis and Julian McMahon

Performance-wise, the film actually remains as wooden as its predecessor.  Ioan Gruffud’s name continues to be his most interesting attribute as an actor, while the only thing that’s deepened in Alba’s performance is her fake tan.  Michael Chiklis somehow seems even more like a robotic cartoon character, still trapped under several inches of orange latex as the Thing.  Easily the most likable character in the first film, Chris Evans retains his brash charm as the Human Torch, but teeters into obnoxiousness by the end.

The Silver Surfer
Chris Evans

Without much effort, the special effects outshine their costars, but remain a pretty rote affair.  The one exception is the Silver Surfer himself, who is actually quite impressive to look at, and the well-shot chase through New York he leads the Human Torch on is the closest the film comes to a memorable action sequence.  For the bulk of its running time, the film’s FX wizards were merely left to illustrate a series of banal sight gags and kinetically deficient super-skirmishes.

Comic purists are already up in arms about the changes filmmakers made to their sacred text in the name of broad appeal, but it’s their failure to attend to the “appeal” aspect that they should be really upset about.  Somehow, Fantastic Four 2 manages to be too simplistic and staged to be exciting or charming, yet too slick to qualify as camp.  As just another example of marketable mediocrity, it’s not enough of anything to be worth the time.

(Updated: 06/15/07 JW)

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