Fantastic Four — Rise of the Silver Surfer

June 25th, 2007 Dark Horizons, Film Reviews

One sequence that particularly niggled grown-ups during Spider Man 3 was Peter Parker’s strut through New York when he decides to give in to Venom’s influence over him. He dresses in black, wears his hair like a member of Panic at the Disco, dances, flirts with girls… has fun for what might be the first time in a life of having sand kicked in his face by jocks.

But he had to exorcise that demon that was making him enjoy life, right kids? We liked him much better when he was betrothed to an insecure, unsupportive harpy who can’t even let him enjoy his first taste of fame and adoration. Nothing’s worse than the hero who has everything. That’s why so many of Tom Cruise’s movies suck so much nowadays…

Fantastic Four, Rise of the Silver Surfer has more in common with Raimi’s bloated threequel than just its comic sctrip origins. It’s told from the same juvenile standpoint. Mr Fantastic (Ioan Gruffold) and the Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba) are in love, so when he looks at other woman… dances with them, heaven forbid, he’s the Bad Guy.

Sure, if you were marrying Jessica Alba you wouldn’t have to look at other women either, but Rise of the Silver Surfer is a comic strip movie as told by a 10 year old. Not incoincidentally, it’s also speaking to 10 year olds — if you’re any older, there’s a be a lot of rolling of eyes in store…

In the downtime between the effects-driven action it’s all lame gags, hammy attempted catchphrases and jokey, this-is-really-a-cartoon tone.

Things are going less than swimmingly for the Fantastic Four since deciding to become full time crime fighters. Reed and Susan are planning their oft-postponed wedding for the fifth time after various crimes and desperate government officials keep interrupting, and history is doomed to repeat as a strange life form from outer space arrives on Earth the day of the wedding, causing strange meteorological phenomenon and enormous round sinkholes all over Earth’s surface.

Almost at ‘I do’, the Silver Surfer arrives in New York and the Four have a new fight ahead, especially when the first film’s villain, Von Doom (Julian McMahon) is released from his capture and finds himself armed with knowledge about the surfer’s power, making him the Four’s closest unwanted ally.

The Surfer is voiced by Laurence Fishburne, whose every utterance is so reverential and critical to life on earth you’ll be waiting for him to say ‘what is the Matrix?’. It turns out he’s the messenger of a destructive galactic power which follows him from one planet to another, destroying it before moving on. Why he comes early to warn/prepare Earth for destruction is never explained (and might have been obvious if you read the comic), but it’s a mere detail in servitude to CGI.

With more at stake than just their hairstyles and signature quips, the Four have to take orders from a thankless army officer you just want to slap, deal with von Doom and overcome their own adolescent bickering to save the day.

With a bigger budget and more confidence placed in him by Fox, director Tim Story delivers bigger effects and more of them, but no amount of pixel engineering can save a by-numbers plot and some of the worst dialogue since Star Wars Episode I.

Enjoy the effects and the spectacle but don’t expect too much more from this comic strip romp — you’ve seen it too many times, and the tween target market lowers the bar too far, making it impossible to ignore the clunky drama and desperate grab for laughs.


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