“Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” Deserves More Love Than It Gets

Rise of the Silver Surfer, the sequel to 2005’s enjoyable Fantastic Four, is a great example of the movie world recreating the simple joys of comics on the big screen…

Fantastic Four, Rise of the Silver Surfer, Film Review,I don’t want all my superhero films to be like this but the Fantastic Four saga has developed such a likable niche. In the comic-book-to-movie business, whether it be Marvel, DC, or graphic novels and the rest, there’s room for complicated origins stories seeped in tragedy and inner turmoil just as there is space for those that get turned into great big walking boulders who don’t give a damn and shout “it’s clobbering time”.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer carries on where the first film left off, continuing the lightweight, knockabout fun of the foursome’s first outing. Made up of Mister Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd), the Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba), the Human Torch (Chris Evans), and the Thing (Michael Chiklis), this group of scientists and astronauts have become major celebrities as their extraordinary powers have sparked the attentions of the wider public following their run-in with megalomaniac Doctor Doom. Now, a new threat emerges in the shape of the Silver Surfer (voiced by Laurence Fishburne), who plans to destroy all life on earth unless the Fantastic Four can stop him. However, Doctor Doom has unwittingly been released from his prison and joins forces with the Fantastic Four to help them defeat this new nemesis. But can he be trusted and is there a more deadly force hiding behind the Silver Surfer?

The film is so enjoyable because it doesn’t over complicate things. It is a criticism you could throw at some of the other comic-book adaptations such as The Avengers or X-Men. The most interesting aspects of superheroes and super-villains might not be lavish action sequences full of spectacular special-effects, catchphrases and clichéd romances; sometimes stripping away the backdrop to reveal only the basics provides a lean, uncluttered narrative that titillates the most basic emotions. In short, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is fun, plain and simple.

Fantastic Four, Rise of the Silver Surfer, Film Review,

It would be easy to dismiss this superhero adventure, which is an upgrade on 2005’s enjoyable original, as featherweight and throwaway. But that would do a disservice to a film that knowingly sidesteps the baggage in favour of fun and frivolity. It maybe a superhero movie for less demanding audiences; a category I must consider myself in, on this evidence.

The film doesn’t have the depth seen in, for example, the Iron Man saga or The Amazing Spider-Man. It also treads on much lighter ground, steering clear of deeper moral issues, the sort that plague characters like Batman. But what the film does well is translate the most simplistic pleasures of the comic-books to the big screen. The highlight is certainly the internal bickering between the foursome, the Human Torch wallowing in their newfound celebrity brings conflict between the group as Mister Fantastic prefers to keep his life low-key while courting the Invisible Woman. Indeed, the romantic element is neatly told by director Tim Story who keeps it satisfyingly cartoonish. For instance, there’s a good running joke about the pair’s wedding being interrupted by villainous acts getting in the way.

Director Story counterbalances the levity with a couple of good villains – Silver Surfer might suffer from special-effects that look like they were borrowed from the 1990s (his liquid-metal skin reminding me of Robert Patrick’s bad-guy Terminator in T2) but Laurence Fishburne’s bass-pounding baritone, the voice of the villain, is strangely dreamlike in its notions of menace and calm destruction. Doctor Doom is less complicated, feeding off megalomania seemingly so typical, but his straightforward determination to rule the world fits perfectly with the simple pleasures of the Fantastic Four saga.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a dish that serves simple pleasures. Where other comic-book-to-movie adaptations may have tried to do too much with character or plot, possibly trying to please everyone from aficionados to the casual action-fantasy fan, the Fantastic Four saga is happier keeping the tone light, the characters one-dimensional, and the conflict direct and uncluttered. It would be easy to dismiss this superhero adventure, which is an upgrade on 2005’s enjoyable original, as featherweight and throwaway. But that would do a disservice to a film that knowingly sidesteps the baggage in favour of fun and frivolity. It maybe a superhero movie for less demanding audiences; a category I must consider myself in, on this evidence.

four stars - Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer

Written by Daniel Stephens

Fantastic Four, Rise of the Silver Surfer, Film Review,Directed by: Tim Story
Written by: Don Payne, Mark Frost
Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington, Andre Braugher, Laurence Fishburne
Released: 2007 / Genre: Superhero Fantasy
Country: USA / IMDB

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About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Ryan Pollard Reply

    I’ve never got Tim Story’s Fantastic Four movies personally. Both films may conform to the structure of the comic book, but that doesn’t make them great films. Both films may look shiny and glossy, but they are just infinitely dull. Plus, I could live without the Jessica Alba role. The message of both films appear to be that it’s okay for guys to look like rock creatures, yet the women have to look like Jessica Alba and take off their clothes for no reason, which is not good when aiming for a family audience. Hopefully the upcoming reboot may fix the damage… or can it?

  2. Keith Reply

    I didn’t have a big problem with this film. It isn’t one of my favorite superhero movies but I had fun with it.

    • Keith Reply

      That being said I think the “reboot” already sounds awful. LOW expectations for it.

  3. David Smart Reply

    It’s a shocking film with some very below par acting which may have something to do with the script. Look at the way Guardians of the galaxy stays true to the comics in many ways and the actors bring it to life. Fantastic four is missing that powerful acting performance 2 stars at best.

  4. hcmoviereviews Reply

    great to see another fan of this film, I love both of the films from last decade – think each cast member is well suited!

  5. Callum Reply

    It killed the franchise but I rather enjoyed it.

  6. Film Gob Reply

    I haven’t watched them since release but I can’t understand the hate they get…

  7. Peter Syddall Reply

    I really like these films.

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