Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington, Andre Braugher, Laurence Fishburne, Doug Jones
Directed By: Tim Story
I’ll admit, I actually enjoyed the first Fantastic Four movie. I recognised that it wasn’t a great movie, but it was an entertaining movie that accomplished what it set out to do. I haven’t watched it since it came out in theatre, so I couldn’t tell you if I still like it, but I did feel that it matched the spirit of the original comic books, which were goofy high adventure.
Part of what helped the first go around was having low expectations going in. It didn’t look to be a very good movie, and I wasn’t particularly attached to the characters anyway, so I wasn’t offended or let down when it turned out to be a silly popcorn flick. For the sequel, my expectations still weren’t all that high, but I did get somewhat excited by the introduction of the Silver Surfer (Doug Jones and Laurence Fishburne providing his voice) to the series, as it could only mean that we’d be getting a big screen adaptation of the best FF story of them all: the battle with Galactus to save Earth.
I was curious as to how they could pull off such an event, especially since they’d already established a series lacking the gravitas for such a story. The trailers were promising, making it look like the series was taking a more serious turn while still retaining the fun of the first movie. Working with the same actors and director (Tim Story) as the first, I figured it was still going to have a good measure of dumb fun, but I figured simply by upping the stakes, the movie could deliver more.
Unfortunately, they decided to reduce the amount of fun, while turning the level of dumb up. Way up. Like they had to redesign their amps to go up to 11 to get more dumb out of them. And if you were thinking of seeing this to see how they pulled off Galactus, don’t bother. Cause they didn’t bother. Admittedly, a planet-sized figure with a huge purple helmet would be tough to pull off even with the altered reality and fantastic nature of the series, but there had to be a better solution than what they came up with here (if not, it’s just another example of things that comics can do that movies cannot).
Actually, now that I think about it, having a planet-sized purple-headed planet-eater would be about the only opportunity this movie missed in its all-out assault of stupid. For the most part, the actors in the movie seem embarrassed to be there, which is understandable, since they should be. How bad does it get? Well… thanks to this movie, there’s now a competition for most embarrassing dance sequence by a superhero in a 2007 movie. Worse, the movie accomplished the seemingly impossible, and made Jessica Alba look too freaky to be hot. Sure, the tight costume was there, but it couldn’t make up for her terrible wig, contacts, and eye make-up, which made her look like almost as much of an alien as the Surfer.
The benefit of being a sequel to a silly movie that I enjoyed in spite of myself is that I can’t really be all that mad at the movie for being bad, and thus was able to enjoy parts of it anyway. Chris Evans was still fun as the brash Johnny Storm, and some of the stunts were fun. I also commend the movie for going against the grain and turning in a superhero movie that isn’t overly long (just 92 minutes) or overly morose. I think this is the right approach for an FF movie, since the characters don’t work if played too serious and too realistic, and the box office seems to prove this approach right. But… it didn’t have to be this dumb, did it?