Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer 2007
I can honestly say that I don’t remember much about the release of this movie. I was a fan of the first Fantastic Four and I was looking forward to seeing what happened with the sequel. I was glad that they were bringing in the Silver Surfer and Galactus even though I had heard that they had turned him into a giant cloud. I don’t remember if I knew about the minor controversy with Doug Jones doing the motion capture and speaking role during production, but replaced by Laurence Fishburne’s voice afterwards. It came after a middle of the road movie and featured one of the most popular characters from the Fantastic Four, but it failed to generate enough interest and barely cleared its budget domestically. I still consider the first movie to be a guilty pleasure of mine and I expected more of the same out of the sequel. And while there is still some of that fun charm that I enjoyed in the first movie, it ends up working against itself more often than not. And on top of everything else, it fails at way too many of the necessary superhero tropes. There’s a weak villain, a weak climax, and a sacrifice that neither had weight nor real impact.
One of the weakest points of the movie is that it has several plots going on at the same time, but none of them have any real connection to each other in any meaningful way. Instead they are just three plot lines that just happen to be going on at the same time and interfere with each other. The biggest one is obviously the Silver Surfer’s entry to the planet as the herald of Galactus. He spans the globe generally messing things up in really weird ways while marking the planet for Galactus’s arrival, or something like that as it’s never really explained. Neither is it explained why his powers does these fantastic things like solidify the ocean near China, make it snow in Egypt, or create a giant EMP in New York. Meanwhile, Reed Richards and Sue Storm are planning the wedding of the century and Reed is too busy with his work to get his head out of his smartphone. Honestly, that was one thing that actually seemed ahead of its time by a couple years as he was still calling it a “PDA”. And on top of all of that, Dr. Doom returns from being turned into solid metal, but he’s completely ok now and normal looking. And he’s working with the government just like Richards to try and track down the Surfer, only while still being secretly evil.
The one thing that I did like the most from the first movie was the bickering family dynamic between the four, especially between Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm. And while Johnny is still an opportunistic jerk, his first run in with the Surfer zaps him with the ability to swap powers with one of his other teammates whenever he touches them. This creates a great shift in dynamic between Storm and Grimm as now the Thing can turn himself back to normal whenever he wants to, and at the same time he gets to humiliate Johnny by making him turn to rock. Unfortunately, like many things in this movie it’s only used briefly before moving on to the next plot point. There’s also the tense relationship between Sue and Reed as they are neck deep in their wedding plans, and yet throughout the entire course of this movie, it never once feels like they are actually a couple.
The high point of the movie should be the Silver Surfer himself, Norin Radd, with his tragic story where he left the love of his life to become the herald of Galactus, saving his own home world in the process. Yet at the same time, he then becomes doomed to be the one to help destroy countless other inhabited worlds. Instead, what the movie delivers is a mostly wordless performance until the Invisible Woman comes in to talk to him once he’s been captured and she gets the whole back story on his Teletubby stomach vision. So when they help him get his board back from Dr. Doom, he decides to sacrifice himself to destroy Galactus because Sue reminds him of his gal back home. Oh, and because she saves him from getting impaled only to get impaled herself. But because this is a comic book movie that needs to leave the path open for a sequel down the road, both of these self-sacrifices don’t end with anyone actually dying. Except for Galactus, but he was just a big talking cloud so that doesn’t really count anyway.
One of the weakest parts of this movie are the action sequences, or more specifically the lack thereof. Most of the action scenes are completely one-sided, or turn into a disaster sequence. It’s especially noticeable with the first two run-ins with the Silver Surfer where the Human Torch chases after him only to be easily dispatched, which begs the question as to why the Surfer was running from him in the first place. And the second one turns into one of the worst by-the-book disaster sequences ever with the giant Ferris Wheel in the UK. It has the close ups of a few of the people in the cars acting scared, and ends with two of those same people making it out safely and hugging each other in a reunion scene that has absolutely no weight to it whatsoever. And the climactic battle scene between Dr. Doom on the Surfer’s board and four-in-one Johnny just looks absolutely ridiculous. It’s no wonder that this is considered one of the lesser Marvel movies in recent years, or that there was never a third Fantastic Four movie with the same cast. It does still have its moments here and there that can be enjoyed, including most of Doug Jones and Laurence Fishburne’s performance. Unfortunately, it’s mixed in with some of the most cliched and boring stories that can fit into a superhero movie. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.