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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 Jay Seaver

"At the very least, better than expected."
4 stars

The by-now obligatory Stan Lee cameo in "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" will make comic fans smile a little: In a moment pulled from "Fantastic Four Annual #3" over forty years ago, he's not let into the wedding of Reed Richards and Susan Storm. Jack Kirby was thrown out alongside Lee in that original story, but the late artist is not mentioned here, which is a shame; it's the willingness to embrace Kirby as well as Lee that makes this film a heck of a lot better than its predecessor.

Part of the appeal of the Fantastic Four has always been what Lee brought to the team: The family dynamic and focus on relationships as well as super-heroing. What the 2005 film was missing was what Jack Kirby brought: Huge, larger-than-life adventure, told with bold art that practically crackled with energy. The last movie was all about the heroes squabbling, and ended with the four of them fighting one guy in an unimpressive sequence, so it's very good to see this one open with a planet being destroyed. We know, right away, that they're thinking bigger.

Soon we're back on Earth, where the celebrity scientists and adventurers Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) and Susan Storm (Jessica Alba) are trying to pull off a wedding (Reed, of course, has his head in the clouds) while Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) and Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) argue good-naturedly. Their plans are interrupted by an army general (Andre Braugher) with news of climatological anomalies and a mysterious fast-moving object sighted from orbit. It's the Silver Surfer (body of Doug Jones, voice of Laurence Fishburne), and Reed soon discovers that where he goes, planetary destruction follows. The army brings Reed's longtime rival Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon) in to assist, which everyone should have realized was a bad idea from the start.

Not just because Doom is a megalomaniac with his eye on stealing the Surfer's power cosmic, but because both these movies get just about everything possible wrong where the character is concerned. Victor Von Doom is an icon, famed for both his classic character design (one of the more direct inspirations for Darth Vader) and his flamboyantly grandiose behavior. Doom talks about himself in the third person, bellowing from behind an imposing costume that serves as a constant reminder of the suffering he has brought upon himself (though he blames Reed Richards for everything). Julian McMahon, on the other hand, flashes his handsome face throughout the entire movie. As a villain, he's not particularly threatening; his voice doesn't even have the edge that says this guy is dangerous even when he's not being overtly intimidating. And to make matters worse, when he is in the character's most famous get-up, the prop and costume guys give him an ill-fitting, cheap looking cloak that swallows him rather than something that barely contains his majesty and power. Considering that I can't recall ever talking to anyone who liked McMahon's Doom in the first film, it's a mystery why the filmmakers decided to repeat everything that failed to impress the audience this time around. If they feel the need to bring Doom back for the third movie, I hope that they feel free to recast and/or reconceive the character.

I wouldn't mind them doing that somewhat with other members of the cast, either. Ioan Griffudd is at least starting to make Reed his own, and he does give the character a sort of dorky charm. I'm still not sold on Jessica Alba as Susan Storm, although it's not really her fault that the character is written as a nag or (again) made the butt of a joke where she winds up naked in public, rather than the warm heart of the team who holds the group together. Michale Chiklis, though, is lovably gruff as The Thing; he nails the character's curmudgeonly nature. He's also got the good fortune to play off Chris Evans in a lot of scenes: As in the last movie, Evans steals every scene that isn't nailed down.

Any faults at the merely human scale, though, are made up for by how the film thinks big. The Surfer and his board are exciting visuals, and the chase with him and Johnny from the film's trailer is one of the more entertaining set pieces in recent memory. The way the film zips around the world helps with the sense of scale, as do some spiffy special effects of the destruction the Surfer leaves in his wake. And though many disagree, I like the film's vision of Galactus as closer to a force of nature rather than a big man with a funky hat.

Director Tim Story and his writers get the right feel for the movie, or at least in the right neighborhood. These are adventure movies, and while the whole world is threatened with destruction, there's as much a sense of fun as imminent danger. It's a movie that is openly courting families, and even the innuendo is pretty much harmless. Older fans might grumble, but I think it's the right call - the kids around me were having a blast. There's also not a whole lot of wasted time to it - it runs an hour and a half, blessedly compact compared to some of the summer's other sequels.

"Rise of the Silver Surfer" isn't nearly the movie it could be, or arguably what a movie based on "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine" SHOULD be. But it's an improvement over its predecessor, and I'm far more open to seeing more "Four" than I was two years ago.

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originally posted: 06/20/07 10:52:53
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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

  15-Jun-2007 (PG)

  21-Jun-2007 (PG)

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