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Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer - Review

Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES (2-DISC): Avi Arad Commentary; Tim Story commentary; Deleted Scenes; Featurettes; Making of…

FANTASTIC 4 director Tim Story has stated that Rise of the Silver Surfer is to the first film what The Empire Strikes Back was to Star Wars. That is to say, darker.

But even at its darkest, this improved sequel still maintains a heightened sense of fun, even campness, that keeps it firmly rooted in child-friendly territory.

Having established his characters in the first film, Story wastes no time in getting into the action this time around as fresh from heralding the destruction of another solar system planet, The Silver Surfer heads for Earth to pave the way for more spectacular carnage.

Hence, oceans freeze over, Egypt gets some snow and the whole of Los Angeles suffers a power cut as The Silver Surfer passes overhead.

The Fantastic 4, meanwhile, are busy preparing for the imminent marriage of Reed Richards – aka Mr Fantastic, aka Ioan Gruffudd – to Sue Storm – Jessica Alba’s The Invisible Woman, only to find the wedding day ruined by the surfer’s arrival and the consequences of his presence.

With eight days to go before the end of the world they must work with the US military and reincarnated enemy Dr Doom (Julian McMahon) in a bid to find a solution.

For the most part, Rise Of The Silver Surfer gets by on the fact that it’s knowingly lighter than most other comic book movies and the sense that it’s quite content to play things cheesy.

Hence, McMahon’s Doom is equal parts menace and camp, especially during his spoken moments with the Fantastic Four, while some of the gags feel deliberately over-cooked (especially involving Chris Evan’s Human Torch).

There’s also a certain wow factor surrounding the Silver Surfer, whose exploits showcase the film’s CGI at its best (no mean achievement given he’s a composite of Doug Jones’ body, Laurence Fishburne’s voice and a whole lot of effects).

But try as hard as it might, The Fantastic 4 still lacks something to make it really special.

Alba, in particular, gives such a lifeless performance as Sue Storm that it’s hard to root for her love story (which drags), while Michael Chiklis sometimes feels stifled by the limitations of his make-up.

None of the cast are helped by a lightweight script that gives them very little to work with, aside from bickering, joking or underlining the seriousness of the situation.

There are attempts at political commentary (including some light torture at the expense of the US military) and nods to environmental issues but they’re blunted by the film’s determination to keep things light.

Come the big finale, it hasn’t really worked hard enough – or taken enough risks – to deliver the big emotional kick it seeks and the result is a little underwhelming.

That said, taken at face value the film wears its credentials on its sleeve and confidently delivers something that can appeal to viewers of any age. And in the Silver Surfer, it does have a character cool enough to deliver the expected box office windfall.

Just don’t expect to be blown away.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 95mins