Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer  (2007)PG

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Eek, it’s the Silver Surfer! And the surf dude is treated as a bad guy here, at least at first, and in appearance he continues the pervious film’s tradition of cheap nineties-looking CGI. Come on, people, lately I’ve seen better looking CGI characters in saturday morning cartoons!

At least in this version, we won’t all know 80% of the story before we even see it...

At first, this movie seems far worse than its predecessor. The idiot dialogue, the horribly written characters, the hopelessly awful acting from Gruffudd and Alba... Then the surfer crashes the Richards’ wedding and the action starts, and things improve considerably. Unfortunately, it takes half an hour of film time to get there! That first half hour is torture. God, what awful moviemaking.

To give you an example of the proto-hominid level of filmic sophistication you can experience here, I’ll share this: in every Marvel Comics movie, there is a cameo appearance by Stan Lee, the guy who invented many of these characters back in the sixties. His face always shows up. But nowhere else does he step forward and announce to somebody “I’m Stan Lee.” In this piece of shit, they have him say it twice. Because we’re too stupid to get it otherwise. No wait, I don’t think it’s us who’s stupid.

There are so many things that don’t work. Like, there’s a joke where Mr. Torch tries to sell the others on covering their uniforms with sponsor decals a la Nascar... right after we just got done noticing how every news clip they show is from the same disreputable network. And then they show us the badge on the Fantasticar and confirm that (impossibly) it has a “hemi”. And the car company’s logo, yep, it was on the uniform.

Jessica Alba is getting to be a very popular and successful leading lady. She’s getting all kinds of work in all kinds of movies. And one of these days, I predict, she’s going to have a “breakout performance”, wherein just once she manages to do something that looks like good acting. And then everyone will say she’s come of age as an actress and will be doing more serious roles now. And then? She’s going to go right back to sucking in every performance, because even a bad actor can produce one decent movie if some demanding yet patient director micromanages every little thing they do, but no amount of help is ever going to turn Jessica Alba into someone with talent.

And in crap like this, of course, she’s at the very bottom of even her tiny range. As is Ioan Gruffudd as her fiancee. He might be even worse than she is. Even a dumb jock like Chris Evans (as the Human Torch) wipes the floor with him acting-wise.

It doesn’t help that all the parts are abysmally written. Or that even such a basic thing as their makeup is so lamely done that it makes their hair look like cheap wigs, and Jessica’s face look like Dr. Doom’s mask.

But despite how many awful things there are about this movie, it has several clear advantages over its predecessor:

  • There is far more being-a- superhero-and- saving-the- world action. About half of the running time is focused on them doing their job, rather than on them behaving like contestants on some lame second-tier reality show.
  • There’s an actual story this time.
  • The atrociously miscast Julian McMahon as Dr. Doom is not around all that much.
  • The Surfer manages to be something of a noble and tragic figure. (In this, they take a page from the book of Superman Returns... he reaches about 600 milliNeos on the Christometer.)

On the other hand, at least one key plot element is teeth-hurtingly stupid, and I personally had two scenes that were so offensively wrong that I briefly lost my temper instead of being able to laugh at it. A third one was probably just as bad, objectively.

So, this is a godawful piece of dreck, but at least, unlike the first one, the main focus is on larger than life characters doing larger than life deeds, which is the whole point of a superhero story. So on that rudimentary level, it does deliver something.