Review: ‘Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer’

Characters to love, story to hate.

On the eve of the wedding of Mr. Fantastic aka Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) to The Invisible Woman aka Sue Storm (Jessica alba), a mysterious silver man riding what appears to be a flying surfboard arrives as the herald to a planet-destroying galactic force. Along with The Human Torch aka Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) and The Ever-Lovin’ Thing aka Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), the Fantastic Four will try to save to earth, but only arch-enemy Dr. Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon) may have the key to stopping the destroyer of worlds.

If all of that sounded cool, you must be a comic book fan, because when you actually see it, it just isn’t as cool as you imagined it could be. Sadly, the actors playing the Fantastic Four themselves have nailed their parts, and even Dr. Doom gets enough of a correction to be acceptable (though still falling short of the egotistical criminal mastermind that he is). Unfortunately, the film seems more intent on the promotion a future Silver Surfer film than to lend any credibility to the actual story in the film. To anyone expecting to see the Galactus we know and love, abandon hope all ye who buy a ticket.

As I mentioned in the review of the first film, the heart of this franchise’s problem isn’t the heroes; it’s the villains and their less-than-diabolical plots. Worse yet, the deviations from their comic book counterparts are exactly the problem. Galactus isn’t the Galactus he could be, and neither is the Silver Surfer or Doctor Doom. As foolish as it sounds, the two-dimensional comic book versions of these characters are far richer and more complete than their three-dimensional on-screen counterparts. Whether it’s a matter of running time or just a lack of understanding on the parts of the filmmakers, it’s painful to watch these bigger-than-life entities spoon-fed to audiences as mere names powers, not as the complete and far more interesting personalities that they are.

Sure, it can’t be expected to translate everything to the big screen and some consideration should be made to fit an acceptable running time. Filmmakers must understand by now that when put aside what actually works in the source medium and instead insist upon doing something unproven and far less spectacular in a film, you not only alienate your built-in audience but also cheat newcomers with poorer concepts and a weaker story. Also, anyone who knows what a “super skrull” is will agree with me that, after seeing the film, a future story concept has all but been squandered and will appear even more foolish if they fall back onto it again. Seriously guys, we know you want another film and need to build a franchise, but is anyone actually guiding this thing? With decades of great source material to draw on, making up your own bad ideas is either plain lazy or pompously foolish.

(a one and a half skull recommendation out of four)

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