Marvel Movie Madness! Part 6: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Closing out the Fantastic week.

by | May 20, 2011 | Comments

Enter Marvel Movie Madness, wherein Rotten Tomatoes watches all of the significant Marvel movies ever made. Full Marvel Movie Madness list here. Tune in! We give you our thoughts, and you give us yours.

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Part 6: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007, 37% @ 166 reviews)

Directed by Tim Story, starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, Chris Evans

Ryan: If you thought 2005’s Fantastic Four was bad, then you probably won’t be too surprised by anything in Rise of the Silver Surfer. But if you, like me, thought FF ’05 was OK despite its flaws, then RotSS will irritate you. It will probably make you regret giving the first one a fair shake.

Rise of the Silver Surfer is, at first, relatively familiar. Ioan Gruffud still suffers from an unhideable accent, Jessica Alba is still nothing more than a pretty face, Michael Chiklis is still the archetypal “big softie,” and Chris Evans again outshines his co-stars as the only properly cast character. The special effects are pretty solid, save for a bit of dodgy, of-its-time CGI in the form of the Silver Surfer, and the action pops a little bit, even if it’s ultimately forgettable — so, yeah, pretty much like the first installment.

The core problem (not the only one, mind you) with the movie is that it can’t seem to decide if it wants to be a kid flick or something for older audiences. The writing is terribly simplistic and the humor is broad (extended stretchy dance number, anyone?), but it’s intermixed with some sexual innuendo (how does The Thing, you know, “do it?”) and winks at the audience that kids just wouldn’t get. There’s just not enough of either to skew the film one way or the other, so it ends up being half entertaining for adult moviegoers and half beffuddling for kids. The first movie had a bit of that, but this was a big step down, in my opinion.

Alex: You know how some movies blur, making you aware you’re really just staring at a wall for two hours? This is one of them. Did anything of remote interest happen here? The first Fantastic Four edged itself between hokey and fun and came out on top, but everything here just toppled over at the slightest bit of drama. No good dialogue, Silver Surfer did nothing, and we see another Marvel superhero go to the dark side…by getting down on the dancefloor. How scandalous.

And, Jesus, I forgave Doctor Doom in the first movie, but this one? Julian McMahon looks barely fit to rule a Radio Shack. Hey, Fox: It’s been a few years. Please sell the rights to Marvel Studios. Tony Stark needs to set up drone strikes in Latveria.

Wait…there is something about this movie I remember…

There were Ray Bans. I need Ray Bans. And Midway’s fine video game, Hydro Thunder, available where Gillette razors are sold. And did you just say there’s a to-scale fully functional Fantasticar replica for purchase?! Wait, hold up… This Fantasticar is not manufactured by Dodge and it doesn’t have a Hemi as verbally endorsed by Mr. Fantastic and Human Torch? Well!! Good day, madam, I tip my top hat to you and bid farewell.

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Ryan: Seriously! Morgan Spurlock even namechecks that exact scene as part of his inspiration for Greatest Movie Ever Sold. What’s funny is, Johnny Storm enters a scene early on in the movie holding up a NASCAR-like bodysuit emblazoned with various logos, and the others poke fun at him for being a brand whore. Haha, so meta!

Oh, and Doom? I almost laughed out loud when he spoke his first lines from the shadows of his cloak. Julian McMahon’s voice isn’t really the type to make me reach for an extra pair of boxers; he sounds like someone I might hear complaining loudly at my bank.

Jeff: I’m so mad at you guys for making me watch this movie. Someone could have at least told me that you can pretty much skip the first hour without missing anything.

Alex: It’s clear filming was compromised. Everything looks rushed. It shoots product placement out the ass non-stop. No wonder everybody walked away from this franchise.

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Matt: This movie especially suffers if you’ve watched it right after the sitting through the 2005 movie. I watched both of them with a seven-year-old, and even he was getting bored with this movie.

What’s really frustrating about this franchise is that the filmmakers seem to have read a CliffsNotes version of what’s important to the Fantastic Four legacy, and then completely missed the point by making everything so bland that you just don’t care what’s happening. Doctor Doom, a wonderfully rich character in the comics comes off as merely slimy here. The Silver Surfer loses most of his nobility. Galactus is no longer a staggeringly powerful sentient being, but is now a mindless cloud of destruction; not to nerd out here, but one of the more interesting parts of the original comics plot was how Mr. Fantastic actually confronted Galactus. Even the idea of Johnny Storm using everyone’s powers at once is a bastardization of an old story about the Fantastic Four faced with the challenge of an alien soldier (the Super-Skrull) that shares all of their abilities, and could change shape to boot.

I think the Fantastic Four could be made into a great movie franchise someday, and I can only hope that the rights to these characters fall back under the Marvel umbrella someday. Marvel may not have a perfect record, but they can’t do anything worse to the Fantastic Four than what’s already been done.


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