It can be argued that The Fantastic Four are the least interesting of all of the Marvel comic book characters brought to the big screen. Their latest adventure, The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, hits theatres this weekend. While this second attempt is miles ahead of the first film, it is saved only by the aerodynamic appearance and special effects wizardry of The Silver Surfer.
When last we saw the foursome, they had vanquished Dr. Doom (Julian McMahon) and saved the world, from total annihilation. Frozen stiff, Dr. Doom was last seen on a crowed merchant ship, cast away for eternity, or so we thought. As this film begins, wedding preparations are underway for Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) and Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd). The paparazzi camp out below their residence, trying to get the scoop of the “social event of the season.” But while the foursome prepares for this festive event, there are ominous signs of impending trouble occurring far, far away.
Flying across the galaxy is a small, fast meteor-type object that is seen, initially, fleeing from a exploding planet as it makes its way to earth. Everywhere the object goes, it changes the temperature and weather pattern of that location; whether freezing water in Japan, snow in the desert or sucking the ocean dry in London. If that’s not bad enough, the object forms craters that within eight days will explode, destroying the planet.
Dr. Richards’ wedding plans are interrupted by a sudden visit from Army General Hager (Andre Braugher), who needs the scientist’s help to stop the object. Secretly, Richards agrees to build a tracking mechanism that would help them identify the mysterious object. Lo and behold, during his wedding ceremony, we finally get an up close look at the mysterious object that is none other than the dynamic Silver Surfer.
At first glance, this gleaming silver visitor with the underwear model’s body and balanced perfectly on a board seems striking, but only when he leads Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) in hot pursuit, do we really marvel at his unique skill (which include the ability to ride above or below his board, while either eluding objects or flying through solid matter, all at supersonic speed). His surfboard doubles not only as a flying device, but also an energy source as well as a weapon that can absorb all forms of solid matter. Blessed with the authoritative voice of Morpheus, Laurence Fishburne, the surfer is doing the bidding of Galactus, who seeks to destroy the planet.
Wow, there’s a whole lot going on and thankfully for the audience, The Silver Surfer diverts the audience’s attention away from one of the most boring groups of superheroes onscreen. Far from Fantastic, this bickering foursome grows more annoying from scene to scene. Sue and Reed want a normal life, Ben and Johnny resent them wanting to break up the group, Dr. Doom returns after an encounter with the Silver Surfer wanting to assist, and blah, blah, blah.
With a runtime of 90 minutes and some “fantastic” special effects, The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is easily digested like a light summer snack. While I still question the wisdom of making a sequel after such a lackluster first film, it is apparent that if there is to be a third film for our foursome, they will definitely need to find another guest star with “wow-ability” like our shiny silver friend. He is worth the price of admission and the only thing that makes this film a “fantastic” viewing experience.