As difficult as it was, I decided to view 'Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer' as a film, not as a chance for redeeming a franchise. I thought this method might take away any fan boy predilections I had, in anticipation of this second installment to 'The Fantastic Four' universe. So, for a moment let's forget that the first film was without artistic merit. Let's forget that the story about a family of superheroes is arguably the most adored of all comic book properties.
'Rise of the Silver Surfer', opens with a planet light-years away, being obliterated. After the opening credits, we are on Earth getting ready for Sue Storm and Reed Richards to tie the knot. During the preparation, the scientist instead of concentrating on the details of his impending nuptials is busy studying a cosmic anomaly. We soon find out that this cosmic energy is in fact an alien on a surfboard zooming down to Earth to prepare it for destruction. These two story lines are the principle actions guiding the story. There are two other subplots. One is in regards to Dr. Doom being 'resurrected,' while the other involves Johnny Storm's selfish nature endangering his family.
Four plots that should make an epic film span a terribly short running time of 1 hour and 30 minutes. Did it work? Did they abandon the goofy nature of the first film and reinvigorate the franchise with an epic story about the fate of the entire planet. No on both counts. The humor is entirely aimed at children (which goes along with its PG rating.) 'Thing' is played for laughs without any degree of intensity. Johnny Storm's crisis of conscience robs all of the charisma established in the first (even if it wasn't much.) Sue Storm is more of a nag than an asset to the team. In addition, there is nothing to signify Reed Richards as the leader to a powerful team of superheroes. He comes off as a self-esteem deprived, blow hard jackass. There isn't one iota of chemistry between any of the characters. The wretched family dynamics are trumped only by Dr. Doom, who can only be described as the worst villain to ever grace the screen. Julian McMahon's portrayal of Victor Von Doom seems barely suited for a Sci-Fi cable channel movie, let alone a mega-budget studio film (not that they always choose the best talent, but come on!).
For a story such as this, the amount of claustrophobia throughout, borders on pure agony. It lacks anything even resembling 'scope of vision.' The only audience 'Rise of the Silver Surfer' is suited for is children between the ages of 5 & 10. Anyone over that age looking for an entertaining piece of escapism will run into a wall of condescension.
Now, let's look at it with comic-book eyes. As most may know, The Silver Surfer works for a planet-devouring villain, Galactus. The Surfer scouts out planets, using his board as a cosmic beacon for Galactus to follow. There is no definition, no rules; they just make them up as they go along. There is no Watcher, so we are told about Galactus through an unbearably cheesy heart-to-heart with Sue and The Surfer. There isn't a shred of genuine impending doom because they never establish what Galactus really is (in the press kit, under character description, it should just read-big damn tornado).
The director Tim Story and his band of screenwriters have once again broken the hearts of FF fans all over. They have no respect. They have no understanding on what makes the 'Fantastic Four' story work, or any story for that matter. I gave Tim Story a break the first time around, but not this time. He should'V looked back at the first one, compared it to the comic book films that work and just said, "Damn! I gotta sit this one out before I do it all over again!" However, he didn't do that. He looked at the numbers from the first one and assumed that money always equals success. Now as for the screenwriters; give them a Cartoon Network show and let them have at it. If they have any talent, it could be realized there.
However, FF2 wasn't a total failure. The Surfer is phenomenal (with the exception being Lawrence Fishburne's distracting voice). His entire body seemed to be in constant motion. I was mesmerized for every moment he was on screen. The special effects team did an outstanding job. However, what is perplexing about the look of the Surfer is what it did to the other special effects. Reed's ability to stretch looked even more unnatural than in the first. Sue's shield, Johnny's fire, everything else was sidelined. It was as if the team only concentrated on The Surfer.
I have been teetering on the edge of spoiling the end. I won't, but damn I want to. Any self-respecting Silver Surfer fan would scream! It is horrible. It makes no sense and it will enrage fans even more than Alba being cast as Sue Storm. I will only say this-Hollywood Cop Out.
No doubt, this movie will make money. I was shocked by the public's positive reaction to the first film. Audiences will be so dazzled by the effects that they will forget that they are watching a terrible movie.
I knew in my heart it would happen, but I had hoped our optimistic nature would pay off. I was wrong. I won't make that mistake again, no matter what the 'Fantastic Four' future may hold.
'Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer' is a disrespectful, sleight of hand circus show devoid of any elements that make a movie a movie.