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Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer Falls Flat

  • Lisa Rice Contributing Writer
  • 2007 6 Jun
  • COMMENTS
<i>Fantastic 4:  Rise of the Silver Surfer</i> Falls Flat

DVD Release Date:  October 2, 2007
Theatrical Release Date:  June 15, 2007
Rating: PG (for sequences of action violence, some mild language and innuendo)
Genre:  Action/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Adventure
Run Time:  92 min.
Director:  Tim Story
Actors:  Ioan Gruffudd, Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington, Andre Braugher, Laurence Fishburne

You may recall that in Fantastic 4, an experimental space voyage went awry, and four people were zapped by cosmic rays and caught in a mysterious hyper-electrical dimension. After the accident, the handsome Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), inventor and group leader, found that he suddenly had the ability to stretch his body.

His former girlfriend, genetic researcher, Sue Storm (Jessica Alba), gained the ability to turn invisible and create force fields. The skeptical pilot, Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), became a powerful rock-like creature, and Sue’s cocky brother, Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) found he could set himself on fire at will.  Together, they teamed up to thwart the insidious plans of the evil Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon) and save the world.

Now, in Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, it is years later, and the world is once again at risk.  This time, scientists have found that there are an increasing number of anomalies in nature—including the icing up of a sea in Japan and the sphinx in Egypt.  Something—or someone—is creating large holes in the earth and sea, and the earth’s energy seems to be under the control of some outside force.  So, the U.S. military, under the leadership of General Hager (Andre Braugher), approaches the Fantastic Four team to get some help in solving the mystery.

The problem is that Reed and Sue are trying to get married, and every time they try there is a major interruption of epic proportions.  True to pattern, just as they’re taking their vows in a posh New York outdoor venue, Reed gets the word that the radiation levels in his area are at explosive levels, and it hits him that something is about to hit the city.  Sure enough, something instantly careens into the area, hitting the paparazzi helicopter that’s photographing the wedding and causing the whole superhero team to have to spring into action to save the day.

Johnny Storm follows the non-human mysterious streak that caused the problem and finds out that it’s a lightning-speed cosmic air surfer called “The Silver Surfer” (Laurence Fishburne).  He loses a battle with the foe in the sky and has to regroup with his team to find out where the guy gets his power.

At this point, General Hager brings in a guest who says he can solve the mystery.  Reed and his team are horrified to see that it’s their former nemesis, Victor Von Doom—whom they thought they had put away forever!  The superheroes must now work with their enemy to find the secrets of the Silver Surfer and save the world once again.  Their goal is hugely complicated by the fact that there are “bigger, badder” enemies from without—and betrayals and superpower switches from within.

Rise of the Silver Surfer looks like a super-high-budget blockbuster with amazing special effects.  There are Star Wars-type fighters, crashes over New York City, skirmishes in the air between guys with superpowers and all sorts of grand heroics throughout the world.

But there are many problems here:  lack of chemistry, poor story structure, faulty worldview and no responsibility.  First, and least importantly, there is little chemistry between the love interests, Reed and Sue.  They just don’t seem to match or to be too “in love.”  Second, the story structure is convoluted. A big screenwriting rule is broken in that there should be one protagonist and one villain in order for audiences to feel fully onboard, emotionally speaking.  And this movie has four or five good guys and three or four bad guys!  There is also an unsettling feeling about the fact that the protagonists got their superpowers through an accident, as opposed to being created for a grander purpose.  They serve no higher power than themselves, and therefore are prone to pride, randomness and independent, visionless actions.

Finally, the filmmakers show a lack of responsibility in a couple of areas—especially in regards to sexual innuendos. For instance, the girl dating Johnny Storm says she has to buy fireproof lingerie when she’s with him, and Sue says of Reed, “I’m so hot for you right now.”  Sue also wears a skin-tight, very sexy outfit in almost every scene.  Are these really things that children need to hear and see?  Isn’t there an unspoken rule that when movies are marketed to youngsters they should be free of innuendo and truly suited to that audience? There is also marked violence that includes one of the characters dying when a bad guy freezes him in place. 

In essence, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a high-budget film, full of amazing special effects, action, and humor and will likely draw in the big crowds.  However, because of the worldview and irresponsibility issues, families should take caution when considering whether or not to bring young children.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Little to none.
  • Language/Profanity:  Two or three light obscenities.
  • Sex/Nudity:  None, but some depictions of suggestive clothing.  There are also several suggestive sexual references, many of which will go over kids’ heads.
  • Violence:  Excessive, with gun and fist fights, car crashes, heat-seeking missiles, electrical zappings, guy frozen in place, terror in NYC, etc.