Review: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

ffss_cov.jpgYear: 2007
Director: Tim Story
Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Doug Jones, Julian McMahon
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 76

Plot
The Fantastic Four join forces with Victor Von Doom to battle a mysterious Silver Surfer who threatens to destroy the world.

Quick Review
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer has numerous blemishes. There are problems with the premise in terms of Reed Richard’s scientific and engineering abilities. Other areas, as well, require a liberal suspension of belief. The script adds nothing to the movie. Even the acting at times is a bit off. Lastly, Jessica Alba’s hair looks downright silly. Overall, although the negatives outnumber the positives in this film, they don’t outweigh them. The key elements of this action movie (pacing, action, and plot) are significant upgrades from the original film. To boot, the Silver Surfer rocks as a villain. In the end, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a step up from the original movie, and well worth a look.

Full Review
The original Fantastic Four movie was casually entertaining, but in many ways felt like a film that never got off the ground. I’m happy to say that we now have lift off. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a film that makes significant improvements to the series. There are issues with the film, for sure, but on the whole this is a film that gets the most important elements of an action film right.

First and foremost, the plot in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is much better than in the original. The first movie spent the majority of its time chronicling the origin of the Fantastic Four. Freed of that responsibility, the sequel focuses of the threat of the Silver Surfer and the imminent destruction of the Earth. ffss1.jpgThis is a much beefier story and brings the series to life. The pacing is better here, too. With the exception of some wandering in the middle and a prominent and occasionally intrusive sub-plot in the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm, the story stays tightly focused. The ending ties things together nicely, except for a confusing scene where Ben Grimm runs up a crane and then seems to do nothing except run back down.

The action and visual effects in the movie are mostly solid in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. There is more action in this film than in the comparatively subdued first movie. The majority of this action is done in a comic book, non-lethal style; we don’t get a confirmed first kill in the movie until after the one-hour mark. The visual effects add to the film rather than distract from it, and they remain tightly tied to the story. Some of Mr. Fantastic’s stretching effects seemed a bit low quality, however. With this exception, the rest of the Fantastic Four come across much the same way as in the original, which is more than adequate and matches the flavor of the characters well.

As a villain, The Silver Surfer looks fantastic, in a retro Terminator 2 manner of speaking. I found him unique, well acted, and well portrayed. High kudos in this category.

ffss2.jpgThe Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, however, does have its share of weaknesses. Most prominently, there is some serious stretching of the established premise. Many of these center on the truly amazing abilities of Mr. Fantastic. For example, he can construct a jet aircraft of the future, working in secret, in his free time. He can make a satellite tracking system in a couple of days. He can whip up a pulse generator to fight the Silver Surfer in a matter of hours. Even Victor Von Doom—back in this film—rises to power again in nearly an instantaneous fashion. Even for a comic book movie, it’s a bit too convenient.

There are significant logical problems with the film as well. This is the kind of film that you think is great as you leave the theater, but if you actually reflect on what you saw, lots of questions arise. It’s hard to imagine that the US Army would work with Reed Richards in the manner they do. Also, characters are conveniently brought along for no more of a logical reason than that they are needed to keep the story going. Massive craters on earth are left completely unattended. Lastly, don’t these people have locks? It seems as if anyone can just walk into Reed Richard’s apartment.ffss2.jpg

In other areas, Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer is generally average. The script gets the job done, but doesn’t add anything to the film. The film also loses a bit in its intended humorous bickering among the Fantastic Four members; the humor gets repetitive, juvenile, and although it does add a certain charm to the Fantastic Four, it’s not particularly well done.

The acting is sufficient, but there are some melodramatic spots where things are overdone, and everyone seems so cavalier as the world is ending. In particular, Jessica Alba, as The Invisible Girl, seems affected in her mannerisms, and doesn’t seem to be as engaged in the movie as much as Gruffudd, Evans, and Chiklis. Julian McMahon is stereotypical in his role again as Victor Von Doom. He has perfected the lengthy, menacing, evil stare.

Looking at our babes and hunks categories, I’m amazed to say that Jessica Alba was disappointing in this film. She’s still hot, for sure, but expectations in this film were sky high, and she lacks the appeal that she had in the first film. One reason is her ffssalba.jpghair. Apparently there were problems with Alba’s red hair dye in the first film, so they went with a wig this time. What we end up is Jessica Alba who often looks like she has a red mop on her head. It can look downright stupid at times. Fortunately, she gets reinforcements in the babe category from a smoking Beau Garrett, who plays a minor role as an army officer, and the elegant Kerry Washington, who plays the Thing’s girlfriend. In the hunk category, both Chris Evans and Ioan Gruffudd help keep the score high.

In conclusion, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer has numerous blemishes. There are problems with the premise in terms of Reed Richard’s scientific and engineering abilities. Other areas, as well, require a liberal suspension of belief. The script adds nothing to the movie. Even the acting at times is a bit off. Lastly, Jessica Alba’s hair looks downright silly. On the whole, though, although the negatives might outnumber the positives, they don’t outweigh them. The key elements of this action movie (pacing, action, and plot) are significant upgrades from the original film. To boot, the Silver Surfer rocks as a villain. In the end, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a step up from the original movie, and well worth a look.

Related Reviews
The Fantastic Four

Score
Pace: 75
Plot: 78
Action: 84
Consistent Premise: 68
Script/Quotes: 55
Characters: 92
Acting: 52
Villain: 93
Body Count: 5
Time to First Dead Body: 1 hour, 8 minutes
Babes: 73
Hunks: 75
Explosions: 65
Special Effects: 80
Stunts: 25
Ending: 80

Overall: 76 (A Good Ride)

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4 thoughts on “Review: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

  1. Dawn: Thanks! Life got unexpectedly busy for a while, but I’m hoping, finally, to be able to write more consistently.

  2. I don’t get what people see in alba, but whatever. The silver surfer pretty much becomes Jesus? It’s like, “i sacrifice myself. to save the planet.” Been here done that, next. Really, this series has been less than entertaining.

  3. I can understand how people don’t like this series, especially if they are avid fans of the Fantastic Four comics. It was nowhere near as good as it could have been. Still, I thought the overall result was enjoyable.

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