Should I Watch..? Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer
What's the big deal?
Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (stylised as Fantastic 4: Rise Of The Silver Surfer) is an action family superhero film released in 2007 and is the sequel to the 2005 film Fantastic Four. Based on the Marvel comic characters of the same name, the film reunites the principal cast and director Tim Story in a film which sees the Fantastic Four attempt to unlock the mysteries of the Silver Surfer and battle the planet-devouring Galactus. Like its predecessor, it was released to mixed reviews which ultimately led to a proposed third film being dropped and a reboot film released in 2015. It is not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as the film still retains the light, comedic touch the original comics possessed but as with the first film, it feels a long way behind the current standards of the superhero genre.
What's it about?
As the world prepares to celebrate the forthcoming wedding of Reed Richards and Susan Storm, a strange silver object approaches Earth's atmosphere and creates numerous anomalies across the world. With Sue accusing Reed of abandoning her in favour of his work, he secretly tracks the object which hits New York as their wedding gets underway. Johnny Storm flies after the object and discovers that it is humanoid in shape and appears to be riding a silver surfboard. But after failing to apprehend the Silver Surfer, Johnny discovers that his body has been altered to allow powers between the Fantastic Four to be absorbed by him.
As the Fantastic Four struggle to determine what to do next, the Silver Surfer winds up in Latveria where the villainous Dr Doom has recovered from his last encounter. Forging a plan to steal the mystical surfboard and unlocks its power for himself, Doom attempts once again to gain revenge over Reed Richards. But a far greater threat soon emerges, one that could spell the end of the planet itself...
Reed Richards / Mr Fantastic
Susan Storm / Invisible Woman
Johnny Storm / The Human Torch
Ben Grimm / The Thing
Dr. Victor Von Doom
The Silver Surfer
Voice of the Silver Surfer
Don Payne & Mark Frost (a)
Release Date (UK)
15th June, 2007
Action, Fantasy, Superhero
Razzie Award Nominations
Worst Actress (Alba), Worst Screen Couple (Alba & Gruffudd)
What's to like?
With the first movie already under their belt, the cast feel much more assured in this second film - even McMahon improves although he isn't helped by the studios insistence on dodgy makeup and removing his famous metallic face completely. The film displays a bit more invention about it than before and at least tries to provide something a little deeper than your usual good vs. evil storyline. And of course, it retains the comic book's lightness by literally cramming in gags and witty asides wherever possible.
If you enjoyed the first film then you'll probably enjoy this one as well as it deliberately ignores the current trend for realism and character analysis and focuses instead on being a straight-up adventure with a comedic twist. It doesn't try to change the genre or attempt anything particularly new, even from its predecessor. People tend to forget that the Fantastic Four are meant to be a dysfunctional family, even more so than The Avengers. Making Rise Of The Silver Surfer a bit darker would have been the wrong thing to do, a point which the 2015 reboot Fantastic Four has apparently demonstrated.
- The studios hated the appearance of Dr Doom's makeup so much that the film was edited to show him beneath a cowl in his early scenes.
- The supporting character of Captain Frankie Raye - a love interest for the Human Torch - eventually goes on in the comics to become the character Nova who replaces the Silver Surfer as Galactus' herald.
- Stan Lee's cameo, as a guest turned away from the wedding, mirrors that made by Lee and artist Jack Kirby in the original comics at the wedding of Richards and Storm. It was a rare moment back in the 1960s for Marvel comics to break the fourth wall, something the likes of Deadpool does all the time in his film.
What's not to like?
It may have more flaws than a fancy tower-block in Dubai but my biggest criticism is reserved for the screenplay. It manages both to be utterly devoid of tension even when Galactus turns up to eat the planet and make the character of Silver Surfer (who should be seriously cool) a charisma-less void for does next to nothing during the entire film. Fishburne's dubbing doesn't help as he is essentially Morpheus without the sunglasses or personality. And speaking of Galactus, why was the decision taken to turn him into a weird gaseous cloud instead of the recognisable giant most Marvel fans would have wanted to see? Not good.
What little action is included is once again tainted by excessive CG and is not very convincing or exciting. The bickering from the first film has been reduced and in places, converted into a sugary love-in which doesn't fit with the dysfunctional dynamic the characters are supposed to have. The film's short running time also mean that what little story is in the film is glossed over so completely that it barely registers so you've no idea what on earth is going on. McMahon is still a fairly hopeless Dr Doom and Alba is still a fairly pretty face but certainly not an actress. Maybe she thought they would add CG emotions to her in post production or something.
Should I watch it?
Viewers more used to the highly polished MCU movies like Avengers Assemble might wonder what the point of all this is. I reckon that the primary strength of Rise Of The Silver Surfer is to remind those viewers that what Marvel has managed to achieve is nothing short of breath-taking. This film is incoherent, loaded with lousy performances, written by someone with little understanding of the characters and possesses no respect for the fans who deserve better. Only die-hard fans of the characters would enjoy this but even they will find their allegiance tested.
Great For: young children, someone who has never seen a superhero movie before, fans of the first film
Not So Great For: fans of the MCU (which this isn't part of), light sleepers
What else should I watch?
Part of the reason why both this and Fantastic Four failed is due to the relative strength of the genre it found itself in. Even before the MCU project turned superheroes into billion-dollar superstars, this would still have found itself up against the likes of Spider-Man, Batman Begins and X-Men - all of which are considerably better than this light-hearted tomfoolery. The light-hearted, comic approach taken by these films might have been acceptable in the past but fans of the comics were demanding more.
Since the MCU kicked off in 2008 with Iron Man, the competition has got even tougher. The three Captain America movies are excellent films which all offer something a little different while the sublime Guardians Of The Galaxy is completely off-the-wall and hasn't a traditional superhero in sight. Finally, there are the two films that act as Marvel's greatest hits rolled into one. Both Avengers Assemble and Avengers: Age Of Ultron provide the sort of grandiose adventure, exciting set pieces and genuine humour that the Fantastic Four can only dream of.
© 2015 Benjamin Cox