Review: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Rating



Director

Tim Story

Screenplay

Don Payne, Mark Frost, John Turman

Length

92 min.

Starring

Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington, Andre Braugher, Laurence Fishburne, Doug Jones, Beau Garrett, Brian Posehn, Zach Grenier

MPAA Rating

PG (For sequences of action violence, some mild language and innuendo)

Buy/Rent Movie

Soundtrack

Poster

Source Material

Review

In the realm of comic book adaptations, there are summer tent poles and there are early-year releases. The difference in quality between them is generally staggering. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer fits stylistically into both categories, yet barely avoids the pitfalls of either.

With the supreme disappointment that followed Spider-Man 3, who knew that the sequel to one of the less interesting superhero flicks of the past decade would manage to slightly outperform it.

When they first announced that Silver Surfer (physically played by Doug Jones, vocally portrayed by Laurence Fishburne) was going to be the villain of the second film, those who were familiar with the genre, figured that the Surfer would be the villain for the entirety of the second film and Galactus, for whom the Surfer was the herald, would be the enemy of a third film. As Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer has demonstrated: our assumptions were wrong.

The film centers on a mysterious surfboard-riding silver alien who arrives at planet earth to wreak havoc and prepare the planet for the arrival of his world-devouring master Galactus. Back in the mix is the first film’s villain Victor Von Doom (Julia McMahon) who suddenly appears to try and help the Fantastic Four solve their problem.

Add in the background story of the ever-put-off nuptials of Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) and Sue Storm (Jessica Alba), a lovelorn Johnny Storm (Chris Evans), and the advice-wielding golem Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis). All told, there are almost as many storylines as in Spider-Man 3, but here they end up more superficial and background-oriented than the spider flick and thus easier to follow.

Silver Surfer is only a slight improvement on its predecessor. The team uses their powers far more effectively and we finally see them put to a real test when they must stop a giant ferris wheel on the edge of the Thames from crashing to earth. They are also given a flying auto-craft that can split into three parts and creates two of the film’s more effective scenes.

Hiding beneath the decent visual effects (the ludicrous dance club scene helps prevent the film from being truly spectacular in that department), is a rather old and somewhat predictable story. Even with the improvements on the original, we’re still forced to watch as the story unfolds without surprise. The utter lack of depth provides the audience with little more than a few minor thrills and a lot of unresolved and unnecessary interference.

One mitigating factor is the film’s rating. The Motion Picture Association of America gave the flick a PG rating and the studio specifically announced that they had crafted it that way. More complex and interesting storylines are immediately pushed aside when this tack is taken and it makes for a less enlightening experience. It also prevents the film from developing a darker more insidious tone that could provide for some significantly more interesting plot developments.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is an unquestionably safe and unexceptional film. It shares the massive effects of its summer rivals while providing the banal storylines of an early-year hero entry. Johnny Storm’s inability to handle his powers after his encounter with the Surfer act as a suitable metaphor for the entire film: after some rather clunky scenes and uninteresting developments, we are rewarded with exciting chase scenes and more-often-than-not dazzling effects.

Review Written

June 24, 2007

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