Directed by: Tim Story
Premise: Sequel to the 2005 film. The Fantastic 4 work with the military when a mysterious alien figure appears on Earth and begins causing random acts of destruction.
What Works: On the whole, this Fantastic 4 sequel is much better than the 2005 film, which was not particularly good at all. This film moves along more briskly and does a few interesting things with the characterization and the relationships between the superheroes. Susan Storm/The Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba) and Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd) attempt to get married amid media scrutiny, and their impending wedding changes their relationships with Ben/The Thing (Michael Chiklis) and Johnny Storm/The Human Torch (Chris Evans). The characterization of the Silver Surfer (voiced by Laurence Fishburne) is better than expected, and the character has the most emotion and greatest character arc. The redeeming quality of the first film was its sense of humor, and this film capitalizes on that. Rise of the Silver Surfer knows that it’s not Batman Begins, and so it plays up the action and has a lighthearted, popcorn quality to it that makes the film mostly fun to watch.
What Doesn’t: Although the screenplay allows for more character development, the best acting in the film is done by The Silver Surfer, a totally CGI character. None of the principle characters are particularly good, although it is not entirely the fault of the actors. Alba plays a supposedly brilliant scientist but the film dumbs down Susan Storm to a valley girl in a lab coat. Gruffudd’s role as Richards is also underwritten and although he is the unofficial leader of the group, the character does not have any real growth or opportunities for leadership. Chiklis and Evans do what they can with the material, but the tortured soul of The Thing as presented in the first film is sorely missed and Evans bad boy character relies mostly on recycled bits from the first film. The weakest link of the original film was Julian McMahon as arch nemesis Victor Von Doom. He still fails to create a threatening presence on screen, although he is less of a joke in this film because his role has been streamlined.
Bottom Line: Although an improvement over the original film, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer is still a middle tier comic book film. Nothing in it is particularly memorable and the film does not add anything to the comic book genre, but it does make for an interesting diversion for a couple of hours.
Episode: #152 (August 12, 2007)