The original Fantastic Four had very little to offer, and this sequel has even less. That the first film was such a box office success came as a surprise to me at the time, but in hindsight 2005 was probably the apex of the comic book adaptation craze. The past often comes back to haunt us; such is the case with this senseless, stupid money grab.
This time around Reed Richards (Gruffud) and Sue Storm (Alba) are trying their darndest to concentrate on their upcoming wedding. Reed is constantly sidetracked with his science projects, much to the dismay of Sue. This is the biggest concern in their lives until the Silver Surfer (voiced by Laurence Fishburne) starts making passes over certain countries on Earth. Once the Surfer engulfs a planet, all life is destroyed within eight days. Now it’s up to Reed, Sue, Johnny Storm (Evans), and Ben Grimm (Chiklis) to stop the Surfer before he destroys our planet. But he may have a secret…
The fundamental problem with this series is that all four superheroes are whiny, self-loathing, and not particularly likable. This makes part two a real challenge since we’re asked to care about one of the most contrived domestic plots of any superhero film – and it’s a popular theme this year. The wedding subplot occupies nearly one half of the film in various segments, complete with humorless filler and groan-inducing one-liners. The even-more-kid-friendly PG rating has turned this into a glorified cartoon.
The much-hyped Silver Surfer has to be one of the dullest creations in recent film. As voiced by Laurence Fishburne, who sounds as if he was just shaken awake every time he speaks, the Surfer is an ugly globule of a special effect that speaks in wannabe philosophical ramblings. When his true colors are finally revealed, it feels empty and as contrived as the wedding subplot.
Save for the $100 million budget and a few dazzling special effects, FF2 would have headed straight to the Sci-Fi channel if one were to judge the film purely on its performances. A bad combination of overacting and just plain bad acting, all four of the leads are just as curiously awful as the first time we met them. We should have all gotten free trinkets for sitting through Jessica Alba trying to emote. Only Michael Chiklis gets a few well-earned laughs, but things are much better when he’s wearing the rock suit.
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is the true definition of a summer con. It does nothing to progress its characters and instead relies on a half-baked story and special effects quick-cuts as an attempt to entertain. For how much respect these adapters of comic books profess to have for the source material, very little of the care translates to the screen. The worst part? The door is left wide open for part three.
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Length: 92 Minutes
Rating: PG for sequences of action violence, some mild language and innuendo.
Theatrical Release: June 15, 2007
Directed by: Tim Story
Written by: Don Payne & Mark Frost. Characters by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.
Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington