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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.13%
Worth A Look: 20.21%
Average: 27.66%
Pretty Bad: 17.02%
Total Crap32.98%

9 reviews, 40 user ratings

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Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer
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by Marc Kandel

"Upgraded from Meh to Hmmn…"
3 stars

It’s better than the first, but face it, placing a midget on a stool doesn't actually make him taller. The improvements on this film fall short of the wonder and magnificence that the first family of comics deserves. I will say that it’s an excellent film for kids, manages to entertain if not awe, and pissed me off far less than “Spider Man III”, a film that infuriates more and more with age and reflection.

The Fantastic Four must put Reed and Sue’s wedding plans on hold repeatedly as their personal and public lives continue to collide. The latest problem rears its head in the form of a silver visitor from the stars heralding Earth’s destruction within eight days. Add a visually improved Dr. Doom (still grievously lacking in the talent department), a fun little power-switch sidebar, stir, and serve.

Notice that I described Earth’s destruction as a “problem”. Not a catastrophe, horror or calamity, but a “problem”- that’s how director Tim Story treats it, and that’s why we’re stuck at “Just Average” rather than “Worth A Look”, though my preference would be to add a half star if the site allowed as I had a better time than my rating might suggest, and would easily recommend it to any parent looking for a kid-friendly superhero film.

But somewhere along the line we miss out on the greatness the film should have provided, given the sterling source material the plot is derived from: the Fantastic Four saving Earth from Galactus the World-Devourer. This story put the FF on the map as not only a superhero family, but full on protectors of the globe, able to repel a universal threat.

It's a classic storyline that could have become a classic superhero movie. As entertaining as the finished product is, there’s still a whiff of amateur hour at play; the scope of the threat and the stakes fall short of jaw-dropping. The best compliment I can give to Rise of the Silver Surfer is that it has the decency to pick a single plot and unerringly stick to it, managing to integrate two other subplots (Reed and Sue’s wedding and Doom’s return) capably into the primary storyline. This immediately puts it heads over the ridiculously convoluted, gratingly whiny Spider Man III, and goes straight for the action-adventure jugular.

With much regret however, I feel that the movie nips rather than bites. The tension and dread the audience should feel over a planet’s imminent destruction just aren’t there (despite the globe-hopping and shots of awestruck citizens looking up at the sky ), and what could have been a truly titanic battle over the fate of our world turns into an unconvincing eleventh hour save that doesn’t make a lot of sense given what we have been learning about the various power levels and weaknesses of certain characters in the film (don’t feel like spoiling right now, but there were smarter ways to deliver the coup de grace, off the top of my head: Reed making the Surfer’s board, a conduit of Galactus’ power, in effect a bomb powered by its target and manipulating Doom to be the “smart” aspect of the bomb for targeting, with the Surfer redeeming himself by aiding the heroes in this endeavor and then using the last of his power to help Sue, trapping himself on Earth forever, which might have given the film some much-needed umph in the climax). C’mon people, I just thought of that in under two minutes and it’s spectacular. As it stands now, Superman lifting a big rock with nary a super-villain in sight has more weight to it.

The violence quotient is significantly muted from the first film save for one rather bloodless execution, the family schtick is genuinely amusing (I didn’t mind the power-switch gimmick though I agree with HBS reviewer David Cornelius that it might be a bit early in the franchise to pull that rabbit out of the hat), and the effects do the job though anyone who’s seen Harry Potter Order of the Phoenix by now knows the difference between an effects and special effects in this day and age.

On a performance level, Rise of the Silver Surfer once again chooses to play to the strengths of the Thing (Michael Chiklis) and the Human Torch (Chris Evans), the only truly successful element from the first film, both turning in faithful renditions of the characters once again. Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd) is allowed to show more personality, intelligence and leadership this time around, but ends up being undercut by doubling as a continual sight gag when the team or the script needs someone to take out frustrations on; Reed sure makes a great rubber chicken in a time of crisis, but still has a way to go as a leader (and inventor evidently as he needs a helping hand from Dodge for the goddam Fantasticar, something he should have created in his sleep, and certainly not a worthy invention for the problem at hand- “Hey the world’s ending! Don’t worry, I built a CAR”).

Sue Storm continues to be the most deficient of the quartet- Jessica Alba scores one or two decent moments (the “Sue, you’re on fire” response is delivered with appropriate panic and irritation- take note Halle), but overall the casting doesn’t cut it- she’s not even allowed to maintain the scientific background she touted (at least on paper) from the prior story, simply putting on a pair of glasses (BA-DOOM! She’s smart again!), and tilting her head inquisitively when there’s technobabble to be heard, or generally allowing the audience to focus on the Fantasti-Tits during slow moments. Everyone else has already mentioned her blonde fright wig and strangely horse-pupil-like contacts that stand out so garishly in this film versus the first for some inexplicable reason, so… so yeah, I’ll mention it too. Moving on. Doom I covered in my review of the first film,, and it's second verse, same as the first here. He gets a superior costume this time around and for comic fans it's a delight to see him flying around on the Surfer’s board (another great comic plot), but the miserably tepid line deliveries and utter lack of presence from Julian McMahon is an affront to Doom fans everywhere. The man has all the menace of a parakeet wrapped in tin foil. Why couldn’t Lawrence Fishburne have voiced him instead of the Surfer?

The Surfer is a nice visual (particularly when he’s brought down and goes from Silver to a dulled Pewter- very nice touch), some innovative ideas are put into his board (though like I said, it wasn’t carried to a logical conclusion), and his dialogue effectively echoed the comics he was spawned from. Lawrence Fishburne puts in the requisite portentous, zen-like vocals and it did the job.

Rise of the Silver Surfer is a decent, if not mind-blowing reconfiguration of two 1960’s FF comic book story plots. As a live action movie, more could have been done to emphasize the gravity of the situation, and Galactus gets shorted a more massive, prolonged confrontation (though I give the film credit for showing a more comic-accurate shape of the world- eater at the center of his cloudy aspect).

It’s lighthearted fun, good summer escapism, but I’m not the “brain turning-off” kinda guy when it comes to movies, and I would have liked a tighter, more dazzling film. Pop a half-star more on top of my three and call it a day.

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originally posted: 07/18/07 04:20:36
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User Comments

9/23/14 jeff This sucked 1 stars
2/21/14 brian I love the Silver Surfer. This is barely him. Reboot. 3 stars
10/28/13 Sissy Gifford Ugh. Low humor, predictable plot, and absolutely no heart. Skip this one. 2 stars
11/20/10 fartvenugen mind numbingly pooptastic 1 stars
8/02/08 mr.mike Saw it on cable, better than the first one, more humor.. 4 stars
6/22/08 David V Could've been as bad as the first one. 3 stars
10/20/07 Pauline Burns Who's the Silver Surfer? Loved him!! Great film! 4 stars
10/17/07 mb Goofy Fun 3 stars
10/01/07 Andrew Kercher Fun, but corny and overdone. Good SFX but some bad acting. 3 stars
9/15/07 dude fantastic bore 1 stars
8/12/07 Jimmy Close Encounters I want a Silver Surfer -- serious, dark, philosophical, riveting 3 stars
8/04/07 dave Much better than Spiderman 3 - more fun, zero crying scenes, great SFX. Great popcorn film. 4 stars
8/02/07 Angie This movie is the epitome of teh word "crap" 1 stars
7/22/07 mike pretty lame. the previews looked kinda cool but this was just boring with a gay ending 1 stars
7/08/07 Tom Servo It's the Fantastic 4-the lamest league of super losers ever created by Marvel= F- 1 stars
7/03/07 Galactus One awful movie for 2007, Could sweep the Raspberry awards! 1 stars
7/03/07 Lewis Shuler Those five Stars are for "SS" ONLY. as for the rest"1" 5 stars
7/03/07 Jan Enjoyable. A lot better than I expected 4 stars
7/01/07 Bloody Hell I commend you for your ability to sit through that piece of shit. 1 stars
6/29/07 Ole Man Bourbon The FX seemed behind that of Terminator 2. Boring and silly. 2 stars
6/29/07 JLP with I character like SS, it had GREAT potential, too bad for the unimaginative writters. 1 stars
6/25/07 Dc sux blls the writer doesnt knoww a dam thing about marvel galactus isnt a fucking cloud, dicks 4 stars
6/25/07 Kabuki_Jo Pathetic review. The movie, besides a few plotholes, is great 4 stars
6/24/07 Batman1955 Made me glad I'm a DC fan 2 stars
6/24/07 aidan great film loved it it was brill u could say that i would give it 4 and a half BRILLENT!! 4 stars
6/23/07 Marvel Zombie Dumb, cheesy, forgettable. Alba's ass looks great, it's just not worth it 1 stars
6/23/07 Dan Great comic fun. I don't understand why it's fashionable to dislike FF but laud Spiderman. 5 stars
6/22/07 Nine A drepressing waste of a few hours 1 stars
6/21/07 Phil Kuhla Tell Stan Lee to stop making Marvel movies because 90% of them suck!!! 1 stars
6/19/07 Moni The Silver Surfer had the potential to be cool...mishandled and miscasted! 2 stars
6/18/07 bullit16 Truly, truly awful 1 stars
6/17/07 MP Bartley Better than Spider-Man 3. Go figure. 3 stars
6/16/07 Joebo The Roger Corman Film with a new title! 3 stars
6/16/07 D Unbelievably bad, and not in the "its so bad its good" sense either 1 stars
6/16/07 Blizz Even WORSE than the first one! I didn't think that was possible!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
6/15/07 Vincent Ebriega Good as a summer action blockbuster, and not a source of much sense. 3.5/5. 3 stars
6/15/07 Saladhats Fantastic Hugs: Rise of the Lame 1 stars
6/15/07 Anthony G Worst movie in years, and that's saying alot. I am a surfer fan, and this movie is trash. 1 stars
6/15/07 DonnyM worst Movie of the Year. Worst Comic Book Movie. 1 stars
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  15-Jun-2007 (PG)
  DVD: 02-Oct-2007

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