WoQW: Thoughts on “Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer.”

Words of Questionable Wisdom: Thoughts on “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.”
By Paul Sebert


Some relatively spoiler-free musings on Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer…

The two Fantastic Four movies are sort of like what Superfriends are to superhero cartoons. If you’re cranky you can have a field day picking them apart of a technical level. They’re not particularly loyal to the source material. However if you are in the right mood they can be a lot of fun in their own right.

I’m still waiting for a H.E.R.B.I.E. cameo, but fortunately we do get to see Reed Richard’s secretary Roberta.

The biggest problem with Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer is that they make us wait far too long for the inevitable FF/Silver Surfer/Gallactus showdown. Every time we think we’re about to get an awesome FF/Surfer confrontation we get sidetracked first by Reed and Sue’s wedding, then by Johnnie Storm’s power swapping antics.

Part of the fun of Marvel Movies is waiting for the inevitable Stan Lee cameo appearance. I won’t spoil this one, but this is easily his funniest acting performance to date.

As if the movie needed another subplots Dr. Doom shows up again in this one, primarily to try and make things up to fans who complained about his portrayal in the first movie. Doom is soon enough relived of the metal form, though Julian McMahon’s oily performance calls to mind Gene Hackman in the early Superman performance. McMahon’s a fine actor and the take on the character works in the film’s self contained universe, though I don’t think this is going to totally appease Doom Purists.

If there’s a better actor out there for the part of Ben Grimm than Michael Chiklis, I have no idea he might be. In fact even with the awkwardness of the makeup, it’s hard to imagine that’s really TV’s Vick Mackey under that rocky shell.

Hard as it may be to believe… but Reed Richards is actually a worse dancer in this movie than Peter Parker in Spider-Man III.

Chris Evans is a very funny actor and his take on Johnny Storm is remarkably obnoxious but in an endearing way. Problem is a little bit of this type of character goes a long, long way and well we get a wee bit too much Johnny.

The problem with any movie about the Silver Surfer, is that it has to feature Galactus which leads us to another exercise in what I like to call “The Goblin Conundrum. “ One of the problems with bringing comic characters to the big screen is that sometimes the classic designs of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, etc. don’t always translate well into live action. This puts filmmakers in a damned if they do, damned if they don’t position. With the first Spider-Man movie they ditched the traditional Green Goblin with a character design that seemed like an extra from Kamen Rider, the end result looked kind of lame, just not the kind of lame they were trying to avoid. Here if the filmmakers don’t show a giant guy in purple armor they’ll disappoint the comic geeks, if they do show a giant guy in purple armor they risk having the non-comic fans breaking out into inappropriate laughter. Like Sam Raimi’s ill-received goblin design, this version of Galactus is alas something of a missed opportunity.

Despite all of my reservations I ultimately had a good time at Fantastic Four and it’s a perfectly enjoyable way to spend and afternoon escaping the summer heat. Just enjoy the current crop of summer blockbusters while you can because if batch of trailers that played before this movie is any indication we are in for a major suckfest come August. I don’t know which I found more unexplainable. An Underdog movie which doesn’t even vaguely resemble the 60s cartoon, or a Daddy Day Care sequel with Cuba Gooding Jr. in the Eddie Murphie role? The post-summer dead zone of entertainment hits hard and fast.