Superhero Month: "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" Review

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Superhero Month: "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" Review

-- Rating: PG
Length: 92 minutes
Release Date: June 15, 2007
Directed by: Tim Story
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

"Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" is an American superhero film that was released in 2007. It is the sequel to "Fantastic Four," which was released in 2005. This film series is based on Marvel comic's superheroes of the same name; they are Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Sue Storm and Johnny Storm. Director Tim Story also directed both films in the series. "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" deals with the Fantastic Four's attempt to defeat Galactus and save the Earth.

A silver cloud that radiates cosmic energy enters Earth's atmosphere and begins creating many large craters on the Earth's surface. Meanwhile, Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) and Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) are preparing for their wedding. Army officers ask Richards to monitor the extraterrestrial cloud, and he begins building a radar device, which will do just that. This device detects the cloud approaching New York City as Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) urges Richards to be on time for the wedding.

A silvery humanoid (Doug Jones) flying on a surfboard precedes the cloud, and Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) tries to catch it. The Silver Surfer drains much of Johnny's power, and Johnny falls back to Earth. Due to the loss of his ability to flame on, he is barely able to survive. Later, Johnny discovers that his encounter with the Silver Surfer allows him to switch powers with the other members of the Fantastic Four by touching them.

Richards later traces the Surfer's energy signature and discovers that all the planets the Silver Surfer has visited have been destroyed. He is also able to predict that the next crater will be created in London, although the Fantastic Four are unable to prevent it. The Surfer eventually arrives in Latveria where his energy revives Victor von Doom (Julian McMahon) from suspended animation. Doom attempts to make an alliance with the Surfer, but he blasts Dr. Doom into an ice wall.

Doom recovers from the Surfer's attack and joins forces with the Fantastic Four to defeat the Surfer. Richards determines that the Surfer gets his power from his surfboard, so he builds a tachyon pulse generator that will separate the Surfer from his board. The plan works, and the military is able to capture the Surfer. Doom steals the surfboard and gains all its power. The Fantastic Four must then defeat Doom and return the surfboard to the Surfer.

Fans of superhero films generally consider "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" to be better than the original "Fantastic Four." This is probably because the sequel had to compete with the other summer blockbuster films of 2007, such as "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" and "Spider-Man 3." The film's PG rating clearly shows that it's intended to be more of a family film than "Fantastic Four," which had a PG-13 rating.

The simple plot lacks any pretense of a substantial subtext, which can sink a superhero film when it's mishandled. "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" succeeds because it aims to be merely a crowd pleaser. Fans of this genre will gladly ignore the stiff dialogue and incongruities, such as the fact no one seems particularly phased by the impending global apocalypse.

Director Tim Story is able to dispense with the characters' back story in this sequel, which is fortunate given the film's short running time. Story's direction is also more polished despite the lack of pathos that the original comic book series inspired. The characters in "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" represent a major departure from other superheroes in that they have flawed personalities, although they are ultimately loveable. They are also unusual in that they don't wear masks or have secret identities, so everyone knows who they are.

The Silver Surfer threatens to become the star of the film as both hero and villain, although he isn't billed as such. Most of the scenes with this character are computer generated, although this is difficult to detect. Doug Jones plays the character in the few scenes requiring close-up shots. Laurence Fishburne provides the voice for the Surfer, but it isn't easy to recognize due to the heavy use of sound effects.

Galactus is the true villain in the film as a non-corporeal cloud that devours everything in its path. Weta did a very good job with the digital effects for the film, and some people think it surpasses the work it did on the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. The other special effects were subcontracted out to other firms and are not as well integrated as the digital effects. Chiklis' costume is noticeably more flexible in this film, allowing him to fight the bad guys much more convincingly.

Rating 3 out of 5