Monday, September 10, 2007

WAAYY Overdue Movie Review: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Sliver Surfer

Woops. I got WAAYY behind on blogging, in general, and movie reviewing, specifically. Sorry about that. They might all seem irrelevant by now, but I'm still going to try to review the rest of the movies I've seen this summer. Thanks to being on vacation right now, I think I'm finally able to catch up.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

In Brief: What's Good

  • The dialogue is well-written in certain spots, with funny one-liners, especially between the Johnny Storm and Thing characters (also the greatest strength of the first movie).

  • Excellent special effects.

  • Good voicing of the Silver Surfer by Laurence Fishburne.

In Brief: What's Not So Good

  • Low on action.

  • The resolution to the climactic battle sequence seemed as vauge as it was predictable.

  • The character of Dr. Doom continues to seem mis-cast and mis-used.

  • Lackluster performances by Ioan Gruffudd and Jessica Alba as Mr. Fantastic and The Invisible Woman.

  • Jessica Alba, in order to play a blond Sue Storm, either had her hair drastically bleached or is wearing a wig. Either way, her hair looks so fake and/or unhealthy that it's actually distracting to look at her hair during close-ups.

  • The F4's new vehicle, the Fantasticar, looks silly and impractical.

C- Story
C+ Acting
C+ Directing
B+ Visuals

Interrupted from the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm, the Fantastic Four must confront an extreme threat to the Earth. The Silver Surfer, an enigmatic being from outer space is preparing the Earth to be devoured by a colossal being named Galactus. Overwhelmed by the power of the Silver Surfer and the prepatory destruction he brings to the Earth, the F4 must work together with an unlikely ally to save mankind from extinction.

The Fantastic Four sequel is just barely better than the original, if I remember correctly. And, it's hard to remember the first one because it was so forgettable.

A lot of the negative hype on the internet was regarding the form of Galactus. In the comics, he's a giant alien with a spiky, purple helmet. In the movie, he's a giant space cloud. I've never read the F4 comics, so that didn't bother me that bad. Neither did it bother me that bad that the Silver Surfer can "phase" through solid objects in the movie, something I'm not so sure he can do in the comics.

Despite not reading the comics, the thing that bothered me more was the continued mis-use of the Dr. Doom character. I've been told that in the comics he's a megalomaniac obsessed with vanity and running his own country. I think I've also been told that he uses magic to achieve his goals. However, when bombarded with cosmic rays in the first movie, Dr. Doom gained the power to control electricity. The sequel continues this huge departure from the comics, and it still seems out of place for the character.

I felt Dr. Doom should be more of a Lex Luthor type character, someone who uses financial and/or political power to fight the good guys rather than raw force. However, with the Sliver Surfer being mysterious and silent for much of the movie and Galactus being a giant cloud, Dr. Doom was--pardon the pun--a necessary evil, as he's a more accessible and relatable villain. But, using him for that purpose made his character feel "tacked on" to a movie with an already troubled plot.

In a way, it's odd that this movie even got made. It's a barely improved sequel to the already lackluster original. It seems to serve more as a "backdoor pilot" (a term usually reserved for TV shows), for a Silver Surfer movie, but I'm not sure that character could support a theatrical release on his own either (although he will likely get a chance; see Fun Facts below). One good thing about it is that it serves as a moderately successful experiment in combining multiple superheroes into a single movie. If other Marvel characters, such as Captain America, Thor, or Ant-Man can't support movies of their own, it might be good to have an Avengers movie including five or six Marvel superheroes at one time.

I don't want to give the impression that F4: Rise of the Silver Surfer is bad. It's just not particulary good either. It's well made for what it is, but when it's over you just get an "eh, so what" feeling. It's an occasionally fun, occasionally humorous, rarely exciting summer movie that is harmless and may be geared more toward younger kids, ones still interested in superheroes but whose parents may be wary of letting their kids watch darker, more brooding superheroes like Batman. If Batman is steak, potatoes, salad, and wine, Fantastic Four is popcorn, candy, birthday cake, and Kool-Aid.

Fun Facts from Internet Movie Database

Don Payne has said that the film is based on Fantastic Four comic issues #48 and 57-60. F4:RotSS was given a PG rating, the first Marvel film to get this rating since Howard the Duck. The cameo where Stan Lee is not allowed in the wedding is in keeping with a scene from the comics in which Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby are not allowed to the wedding.

Fun Facts from Wikipedia

The main cast, including Julian McMahon who plays Dr. Doom, has signed contracts for three pictures, so there probably be a third (and likely final) F4 movie. J. Michael Straczynski, writer of the 2007 Silver Surfer: Requiem series for Marvel {and creator of Babylon 5, the best TV show--ever}, is writing the screenplay for a Silver Surfer film.

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