Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)


Some comic books just aren’t meant to be made into movies. There are just some concepts that look great on a page with a great artist that completely fails to translate on screen. “Fantastic Four” will forever be one of the prime examples of this argument. Tim Story and co. have failed to prove many people wrong in the assertion that this story can be turned into a serious action packed movie. On its surface it’s artificial fluff, a complete piece of colorful junk like cotton candy that’s there for nothing more than to look pretty and provide you with an instant bit of pleasure, and yet really has no long lasting effects or nutritional value.

Some comics just can’t be made into movies. “Ghost Rider” proved that, “Swamp Thing” proved that, and now “Fantastic Four” has proven that. “Rise of the Silver Surfer” has also helped to fuel this argument by neutering itself further down into a bonafide PG rating, and pretty much ignoring all of the dark themes from the comics. With this sequel it’s more of a glorified “Power Rangers” episode with bright imagery, endless almost sickening camp abound, and a plot so thin you could pick the meat from your teeth with it. This is a light show, first and foremost, and while kids will love it, I just couldn’t enjoy myself at all. Not even the presence of the Silver Surfer saved an otherwise horrid sequel that Story simply can’t save.

Galactus never looked attractive to begin with; I mean how can you make a gigantic god with a purple costume and a tuning fork helmet look great on the screen? So Story and co. are at odds and turn him into a… storm cloud? Where is the transition there? What could have and should have been one of the best moments in the comic book film sub-genre, is turned into a hokey spiritual manifesto of a follower choosing to basically decide what he believes in and giving of himself. It’s hokum like that that will completely fly over the target audience’s heads in the end. Regardless, “Rise of the Silver Surfer” isn’t so much bad as it is cowardly. It hides behind the appearance of the Silver Surfer to motivate us into watching a lame brained sequel that can’t even stand on the strength of its own characters.

Much like the pre-Nolan Batman series, and “Smallville,” Sony simply pushes aside their central characters and introduces more supporting players losing focus on the real title character. I couldn’t deny it; The Silver Surfer looks absolutely fantastic here and is probably the only truly faithful variation of the character. His name, his origin, and even his look are all completely identical to the comic book character, and lo and behold, he translates wonderfully on the literal screen. The special effects matched with Doug Jones top notch stunt work makes the Silver Surfer a wonderful highlight to this film, with some of the best character effects I’ve seen implemented in a long time. The Silver Surfer looks beautiful and when he loses his powers he looks realistic and of substance. I was simply astonished.

Jones performs with his usual skill, and Laurence Fishburne’s downplayed performance is the icing on the cake. I was thrilled watching the Silver Surfer do battle and observe humanity. It’s true to the creation, and the Silver Surfer is a sheer delight. When are we going to see a spin-off? Instead while Storm is kept faithful, The Thing has now become a lovable goofy oaf who is the prime punch line with Chiklis dialed down in personality and charisma, and there’s Reed Richards who all but becomes a Danny Tanner meets Clark Kent hybrid with Ioan Gruffud made to look like a fool. Alba is once again the flat wooden actress who adds zero presence to Sue, even when the writing begs that she be over the top and comedic. “Rise of the Silver Surfer” suffers from an arc that can never stay focused on one plot point.

We’re pulled in all under-developed directions as Johnny learns to appreciate The Thing, Reed gains a new sense of courage, Sue forms a bond of with Silver Surfer, the Silver Surfer learns about humanity, we’re forced to endure cliché military antagonists, and it goes on and on. If “Rise of The Silver Surfer” managed to gain a better sense of direction, it wouldn’t have been so chaotic to watch, in the end. Camp and convolution never manage to form a great movie, even if this sequel is much more superior to the former. Nothing is and shall ever be worse than “Batman and Robin,” or “Spider-Man 3,” but Story does seem to attempt to contend with those titles bringing us another sub-par entry into the “Fantastic Four” mythos. While the Silver Surfer cushions the blow, this is a sequel I can ultimately throw away.