Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
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Don Payne, John Turman
Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Doug Jones, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington, Beau Garrett, Laurence Fishburne, Andre Braugher, Gonzalo Menendez, Peter Benson, Moneca Delain, Graeme Duffy, Kelly-Ruth Mercier, Ulla Friis, Fabrice Grover, Heather Cant
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|Movie Review by Matthew |
June 25th, 2007
In a word... Boring!
In a word... Boring!
Reed Richards (Iaon Gruffudd, TV's "Horatio Hornblower") and Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) are supposed to get married. They have spent a lot of time planning what will hopefully be Sue's dream wedding, but that is looking less and less likely; each of the previous wedding ceremonies has been canceled due to various emergencies. You know, they are superheroes and when duty calls... And now, the paparazzi are out in force to try to capture the nuptials. Sue's brother, Johnny (Chris Evans, "Cellular", the upcoming "Sunshine") and Ben (Michael Chiklis, TV's "The Shield") are in attendance, ready to give their friends and fellow super-heroes, a grand send-off. But a mysterious force appears and dries up a bay in Japan, causing General Hager (Andre Braugher, having difficulty finding roles worthy of his talent since TV's "Homicide") to approach Richards and ask him to build a detection device. They soon learn the force is from another world and going from one planet to the other, robbing it of life force and then moving on, just as the planet self-destructs. This force, who rides a silvery surfboard, prompting the Fantastic Four to name him the Silver Surfer (they're a bright bunch), has set his sights on Earth. Naturally, they can't let that happen. But they don't know what to do. Enter Dr. Doom (Julian McMahon, TV's "Nip/ Tuck") who wants in on the action. Will he be able to help the Fantastic Four?
I pretty much hated the original Fantastic Four". In an era when "Spiderman" and "Batman Begins" can show how to make a superhero film right, "Fantastic Four" seems like a throwback to the bad superhero films of the 70s. Everything is too jokey, too commercial and too fast-paced.
Actually, that last complaint is a blessing in disguise. Each of the two films runs between 90 and 100 minutes. Given the time it takes to establish characters, both good and bad, the running time of these films is very brief. Everything seems rushed and the characters seem cartoonier because of it. We never have any time with the characters to build a real relationship, to watch them build any relationships of meaning. It makes the entire thing seem more than a little shallow.
See Reed in love with Sue.
See Sue in love with Reed.
But given the quality of these films, it is probably just as well that they don't make us sit through an attempt to create something more meaningful, something more interesting.
"Silver Surfer" has all the same problems that "Four" had. Dr. Richards (Gruffudd) is the only one who seems to be an actual scientist. The rest of the group are merely worker bees or assistants. They aren't equals; yet, the film seems to want them to be equals, to use their superpowers as a team. Also, Richards is the only one who ever appears to be serious about his work. For instance, when General Haggard approaches him with the problem, he secretly tries to create the device they will need to help the government. As important as her wedding is, because Sue (Alba) is so concerned about this and only this, it makes her a bit stereotypical. At one point, she even says, "I just want this wedding to be as I always dreamed it would be." I expected her to continue on and say 'Since I was a little girl' and then pull out her Barbie dolls. Sue is a superhero for goodness sake. Sure, she should have normal wants and desires, but 'the perfect wedding'?
Ben "The Thing" Grimm (Chiklis) is still in love with his blind girlfriend, Alicia (Kerry Washington) and he still has to put up with Johnny's (Evans) dumb jokes about his size and their relationship. But that is basically the extent of this character.
At one point, Johnny returns to their headquarters holding a superhero outfit that more closely resembles a NASCAR driver's gear; the front and back are covered with endorsements. Johnny is all for it, he wants the endorsements, the fame, the public's adulation. But this is also what he wanted in "Four", so his character doesn't really develop.
After General Haggard enters the picture, Johnny makes goo-goo eyes at one of his assistants, a blonde woman who wants to have nothing to do with him. This is amusing for about half a second, but the same joke was played out in "Four." Johnny wants fame, he wants girls, and he wants attention. We get it. Is there nothing else we can learn about this character? Is there nothing else we can learn about any of these characters?
When the Silver Surfer first appears, Johnny chases him and tries to stop him. Their interaction causes Johnny to experience some changes; basically if he touches one of the other team members, their powers switch. This leads to an amusing moment, but when they do the joke again. And again. It starts to wear thin.
Another problem with both films is that two of the super heroes are only possible through the use of CGI. Yes, I know Batman and Spiderman are also greatly aided by CGI, but anytime Sue becomes Invisible Woman or
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