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Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
Tonight's Feature Presentation


Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Kerry Washington, Julian McMahon

Written By: Don Payne, Mark Frost (also story), John Turman (story)

Directed By: Tim Story

The Shot

On the one hand, Rise of the Silver Surfer is better than the first Fantastic Four, but that’s not saying much, is it?  This one’s easily skipped unless you’re a completist.

The Highball

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


Heavily processed, loaded with holes, and rather inexplicable.

Pairs Well With...


The “silver bullet” that barely tastes like beer.

“Last night the FAA was forced to ground all aircraft, leaving thousands stranded, when electronic failures and mysterious power outages crippled the western United States.  But the big story today: the much anticipated wedding of fantastic couple Reed Richards and Susan Storm will take place this Saturday!”

Sometimes, Marketing wins the day over Quality.  Case in point: 2005’s Fantastic Four, a generally awful movie that still managed to turn just enough of a profit that the folks in accounting figured it was worth going for the franchise.  And so it came to pass that Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was made.  Or maybe it was 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer.  Or maybe just Rise of the Silver Surfer.  Marketing seems to be rather iffy on that one.  Perhaps the focus groups couldn’t pick a favorite.

Whatever may or may not belong at the front of the name, Rise of the Silver Surfer scored a bigger opening box office weekend than its predecessor did… and then it bombed.  Tack on a fresh round of bad buzz, and so much for the franchise.  Marketing did not win twice.  (At least until the soon-to-come Age of Reboots, anyway.  Hell-o, Fantastic Four 2015 version!)

The funny thing is that Rise of the Silver Surfer is in fact a better movie than the previous Fantastic Four, both from a critical and a fan perspective.  (Not that it had a very high bar to trip over, of course; indeed, one could argue that several laws of nature might have to be violated in order for a sequel to be worse than Fantastic Four.)  It’s still pretty bad, mind, but for those of us who are comic book movie completists, it’s rather nice to not have to reach for the Excedrin once the credits start rolling.

Though sometimes, it can be a near thing.

Fans already clued into the lore behind Rise of the Silver Surfer know that this movie draws its story from some pretty cool inspirational material.  Wielding the Power Cosmic, the Silver Surfer is one of the more formidable characters in the entire Marvel pantheon, and his master, the world-eating Galactus… like I just noted, he eats frickin’ worlds.  All things being equal, this should be an awesome – dare I say fantastic – sci-fi superhero flick.

Unfortunately, despite a title that suggests otherwise, Rise of the Silver Surfer isn’t really about any of that cool stuff.  The Silver Surfer – whose Power Cosmic is never properly discussed, which may be for the best since his powers are totally messed up anyway – is by and large relegated to the background, given but a few chances to kinda-sorta-shine like a spiffy new T-1000 that probably would’ve been better off speaking with a voice that didn’t belong to Laurence Fishburne.  Why does he have to spend a week turning the Earth into Swiss cheese before his boss can eat the place?  Um… time delay?  Don’t ask the movie for answers!  (And no cheating with your comic books, my friends; these things are supposed to stand on their own!)  And as for Galactus – which the director refused to portray in its proper form because he makes it a policy to not make movies that feature such things (which begs the question why he’s involved with this one) – yeah, forget it.  World-eater turned massive waste of potential; never awesome, and never really all that threatening looking.  (And don’t even get me started on the return of Dr. Doom.)

So, with all of that sci-fi super villain action flushed down the storm drain, what’s left?

What’s left is wedding angst.  As in “how can we ever have a normal life and raise kids?” wedding angst.  As in “did you really have to bring your cell phone to the altar?” wedding angst.  As in “you know they’re going to disband the team as soon as they’re hitched” wedding angst.  Yeah, character development is a nice thing, and the wedding angst sure beats the start-to-finish bitch-and-moan sessions of the first flick, but come on.  Sci-fi superhero flick?  Save the world?  Maybe put that on the front burner instead of having it be the backdrop to Mr. Fantastic and The Invisible Woman wishing they had the chemistry of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, or even Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore?

Never mind the Silver Surfer; this one should have been called Rise of the Wedding Cake.

With that said, despite having more flaws than a Boston skyscraper, Rise of the Silver Surfer does have a few silver linings going for it which even if they don’t exactly make the movie good at least keep it watchable.  Almost all of these things involve a correction of one of the most annoying things about the previous film: instead of hating and whining about their powers, this time, the Fantastic Four make a go at actually exploring their powers, and even having fun with them.  Predictable though it may be, the bachelor party scene is honestly pretty fun until the General crashes it.  Sue Storm dives into the different aspects of being a bubbler.  As for Johnny… okay, he’s still obnoxious, but the script does eventually give him something interesting to do.  And across the board, the actors playing the Fantastic Four are clearly more comfortable with their characters than they were the first time, and that helps a lot.

As for any problems that may jump out with regard to their actual, you know, acting, I’m going to give those a pass here, because if (as the actress later stated in interviews, and I have no cause to disbelieve her) the director is going to be giving instructions to Jessica Alba along the lines of “you don’t cry pretty; just stop crying and we’ll add the tears later in post”… well, it’s unlikely that such instructions were a one-time thing, and it’s kinda hard to act past that kind of garbage, isn’t it?  At least the cast members look like they’re trying.

But in the end, their efforts aren’t enough, because there’s just no escaping the fact that Rise of the Silver Surfer is a half-baked disappointment.  Unless you’re a comic book movie completist, there’s just no reason to subject yourself to this flick.  This incarnation of the Fantastic Four franchise died after two for a reason, folks.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, August, 2015

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