Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

§ June 18th, 2007 § Filed under movie reviews Comments Off on Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

Last Friday night, I went to go see the new Fantastic Four movie, Rise of the Silver Surfer, and…short review: what they gave us was pretty good, what they didn’t give us was pretty annoying.

Overall, it’s an improvement over the first film. I’m one of the few people on the planet who actually kinda sorta liked the first film, despite its flaws and missed opportunities. This film feels like it’s a little smoother, more action packed, more humor, more attachment to the characters (c’mon, the Thing is lovable in every medium), and doesn’t overstay its welcome, clocking in at a short 90 minutes. Maybe too short, which I’ll get to the spoiler section.

And, speaking of which, let me do my usual SPOILER WARNING, as I’m going to let loose with some FF movie secrets just after this next pic. When you see the second picture, the spoilers will be over. Okay, internet pals? Okay!

  • Let’s get the biggie out of the way, first: as you may have gathered from my Saturday morning post, there just ain’t any Galactus in the picture. At one point in the film, you see a shadow that resembles his helmet cast across the face of a planet, and near the end you kinda sorta maybe possibly see a face in the giant Galact-o-cloud.

    Now, if you’re gonna mention Galactus during the course of the film, and if Galactus is presented as the true, looming threat…to not have the heroes directly face off against Galactus at the end of the story seems like a bit of a cheat. Or, at the very least, disappointing. An extra ten minutes or so featuring the FF fighting Galactus would have pushed this flick from “not too bad” to “absolutely fantastic.” Er, so to speak.

    And this isn’t just “Galactus should have appeared in the movie exactly as he appeared in the 1960s.” It’s just that having the heroes mope around on Earth while the film’s Special Guest Star Superhero takes care of the real threat doesn’t seem like a wise choice.

  • Speaking of the Galact-o-cloud, I have to admit it did look really menacing, particularly in the shots showing it about to encompass/devour the Earth.
  • The Silver Surfer himself…now, look, I’ve mentioned before the improbability of the Surfer actually working as a character. It’s a guy, covered in silver, who flies on a surfboard. You’d think that’d be as goofy as all get out, but it (usually) works on paper, and it works out swimmingly on film. The initial chase sequence with the Surfer and the Human Torch is a blast, and the other (too few) sequences of the Surfer in action are quite nicely done.
  • The relationships within the family work very well, which is important. The focus for the FF should always be “family” — this isn’t just a superteam of folks with oddball powers. They’re bound together by love and friendship, and this aspect of the FF translated well to film. In particular, the friendly-adverserial relationship between the Torch and the Thing, and Sue’s patience and acceptance of Reed’s inability to completely put aside science for romance.
  • I think we still haven’t quite achieved the level of technology required to properly present a stretchy guy in live action. The bachelor party dance sequence, with Reed attempting to cut a rug with some rubbery moves, pretty much just screamed “CGI.” Okay, duh, it’s gotta be CGI, but it didn’t look convincing in the slightest. It looked okay during the Ferris wheel rescue sequence, and during the climactic Doom battle…but more on that in a moment.
  • There’s product placement all over this flick, but for the most part it actually works in context (i.e. Johnny’s attempts at sponsorship). Even the “Dodge” logo on the Fantasticar amused more than offended.
  • Okay, I know I said before we don’t need any more Stan Lee cameos…but the one in this film is almost directly out the original FF comics. How can I say no?
  • Dr. Doom’s possession of the Surfer’s powers worked better than I expected as well. The visuals of Doom riding the board looked like they were taken right out of the similar event in the original comics. Even better, though, was the Torch’s acquisition of all the Four’s powers in order to battle the cosmically-powered Doom, turning him into, for all intents and purposes, the Super Skrull. If there’s one thing I never expected to see in a live action film, it’s a flaming rocky fist at the end of a stretched arm. (In real life…sure, I expect to see that all the time.)

“Hey, look, is that Galact…oh, no, it’s just a cloud. Never mind.”

And there you go. I liked it. So sue me.

Also, one of the attached trailers to this film was for the forthcoming live-action Underdog movie. And…um…it actually didn’t look half bad. (It just goes to show you that Peter Dinklage improves everything.) Not that I’m expecting to pay money to see it in a theatre…I’ll just rent it via Netflix so no one has to know I’m watching it, except me…and, I guess, the few thousand of you who just read that. (EDIT: Paul Di Filippo has got my back re: Underdog.)

Let me know what you thought of the film in the comments section here…and don’t forget to let your voice be known in my little survey from Sunday.

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