Friday, June 29, 2007

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Howdy folks… I’ve been busy…

I did get around to watching Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. The verdict? It’s OK. This film is certainly much better than the first one, although the plot is very predictable. Most of the fun really comes from watching the heroes (and villains) use their powers (duh). I didn’t expect much, so I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve tried to make my peace with the film version of the Fantastic Four that Tim Story brought to the screen. For the most part it’s easier to do with this sequel.

One of the main things to keep in mind about Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is that this is a family picture. The creators of the FF film franchise recognized that the Fantastic Four team was actually a family of sorts and so decided to make the films family friendly. While other superhero flix have gone for the dark and broody this one goes for light and funny, as you could probably tell from the commercials. There is the threat of the world being destroyed by Galactus but by sticking together, the Fantastic Four save the day with humor and resolve (awhh). In many ways the thrust of the plot reminded me of those live action Disney movies from the 1970s.

Another aspect of the film is the idea of the heroes as celebrities. While this has been touched upon in other superhero movies, FF2 takes it to the next level with stalker paparazzi and the 24-hour celebrity news cycle. While not an important part of the comic, this aspect of the film does, I admit, help ground the FF movie in “our” reality.

When it comes to the actors and they characters they portray, the big winner in my book is Chris Evans as the Human Torch. The hothead from the comic stories is fully realized on-screen with his performance. Despite never having heard of the FF before the first film, Evans “gets” Johnny Storm. Michael Chiklis also does a good job with his version of the Thing. While most of the rest of the cast is acceptable a few problems crop up, namely Jessica Alba as the Invisible Woman. She works her butt off and is Ok in the action sequences, but simply put, she is miscast. Part of it is the fact she doesn’t look right for the part. Her and Evans don’t look related. Seasoned actors could overcome this (think Edward James Olmos and Jamie Bamber in BSG) but the dyed hair and wild blue contacts just aren’t enough. Her maturity level also doesn’t match up with Ioan Gruffudd as Mr. Fantastic. Even my SO, who knows nothing about the FF and American superheroes in general, told me there was something wrong with her portrayal.

Another rough spot is Doctor Doom, which is frustrating because I think that Julian McMahon is capable of providing the megalomaniacal genius from the comics. In my opinion, he’s just being poorly directed. I did feel that his plots and plans in the film were more about the accumulation of power and so that aspect of the character was much more Dr. Doom-ish. I had a revelation recently that the villain we’re really getting in the in FF is Lex Luthor, or perhaps the Lex Luthor that should have been in the Superman films.

At least it wasn't the Hulk!

Here is what I liked in no particular order (spoilers):

Liked the Silver Surfer and his alien nature.

Stan Lee cameo

Chris Evans as the Human Torch

Johnny Storm switching powers with the rest of the team

Dr. Doom steals the Silver Surfer’s board

Laurence Fishburne as the Surfer’s voice

Movie takes place in various locations around the globe

Andre Braugher as General Hager

The fantastic-car shows up

The Thing’s new brow made him look more like the thing in the comics

Plots are laid for future films but are not shoved in your face

Some funny jokes

Here is what I disliked in no particular order (spoilers):
Showing all of the Silver Surfer’s best scenes in the trailers

Sue’s whining while the world is threatened


The Japanese scene at the end was poorly done

We didn’t get to see Galactus (although, I admit, he might have looked silly if he did show up)

Jessica Alba as the Invisible Woman

Dr. Doom is still not there yet

Surfer’s CG could have been better

Missed Opportunities (spoilers):
At one point Sue switches powers with Johnny and gets his flame powers. That’s it; Jessica Alba should have been Frankie Raye.

Maybe Laurence Fishburne should have done the voice of Dr. Doom

Still didn’t really get to see Latveria



Arkonbey said...

"We didn’t get to see Galactus (although, I admit, he might have looked silly if he did show up)"

Man. A 1,000 foot tall guy in freaky magenta armor would be the ONLY reason for me to go see the FF movie. They could have re-worked his armor and made him cool. Giving an elemental force like Galactus a face is what made his existence in the comics great.

Swinebread said...

You're right... but the non-comics folks wouldn't get it. They'd just make fun of one of Kirby's greatest creations. I don't think I could take that. I heard too much about how stupid the Silver Surfer was already.

Dean Wormer said...

Andre Braugher is one of the best actor's in Hollywood and it's a shame we don't see more of the guy. He was the heart and sould of Homicide, IMO.

Liked your review and agreed with most of it. This film was better than the first which in and of itself was a pleasant surprise.

Also dissapointed on Galactus but at this point I would've had a hard time not imagining Hulk, Spiderman and Colonel America showing up to eat him. ;-)

Now I have to work in Live Free or Die Hard, Rattatoulie and Transformers all in the space of about five days. Nice problem to have though. :-)