Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Movie Review: Fantastic Four - The Rise of the Silver Surfer

After a somewhat lackluster start to the movie franchise, Marvel universe’s foremost superhero quartet returns on the big screen in “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer”. At the beginning of this sequel, Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd) and Susan Storm/Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba) are trying to get married for the 4th time after previous ceremonies were disrupted by events that required their superpower assistance. With the help of fellow teammates Ben Grim/Thing (Michael Chilkis) and Johnny Storm/Human Torch (Chris Evans), they hope to actually make it through the whole ceremony this time around and finally be legally married to each other. Unfortunately for the couple, fate threw a monkey wrench into their plans in the form of the Silver Surfer (Doug Jones, voice by Laurence Fishburne) whose arrival causes apocalyptic upheavals all across the Earth.

Racing to discover the intent of this stranger from space, the fantastic quartet find themselves having to join forces with the military under the command of U.S. Army General Hager (Andre Braugher) and a newly resurrected Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon). The tenuous partnership managed to eventually capture the Silver Surfer only to find out that he was only the advance scout to an even bigger threat in the form of Galactus who traveled the universe looking for planets with organic life to consume. A predictable betrayal from one of the allied parties puts the world into more danger as Galactus draws closer to the planet. In the end, the Fantastic Four managed to beat the odds but not without the help of the noble herald who decided that humanity was worth saving from his former master.

The latest movie storyline is loosely based on the classic comic book storyline which first introduced the Silver Surfer and Galactus to the Marvel Universe. Well beloved by comic fans, high expectations were placed on this movie adaptation almost immediately after production news hit the internet. Unfortunately for fans of the original storyline, most would find the movie a huge disappointment after all the hype. While it was exciting to finally see the Silver Surfer realized on the big screen, a lot of what made the original story so engaging and historic did not make it to the screen. Instead of a deeper investigation of humanity’s worth, “Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer” choose to remain in the lightweight tone of it’s predecessor and appeal more to the demographics who would be more interested in the merchandizing byproduct of this summer fare.

All four of the original actors from the first film returned to reprise their roles in this installment. While the faster pace of this movie is a welcomed change from the meandering pace of the first, the same cannot be said of the changes or lack of in the character development this time around. Both Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman continue to the one note characters that we saw in the first movie. Like the first movie, the lack of chemistry between Gruffudd and Alba requires audiences to suspend disbelieve so we can accept them as a couple about to get married. Chris Evans continue to be the eye candy of the bunch and while I have no complaints about that it was quite disappointing to see the Human Torch’s unrealized character arch potential in this installment. It was also disheartening to see the how the character of the Thing which was the best thing of the first movie reduced to being just comic relief in this sequel.

Things are not any better on the other side of the heroic line as well. Julian McMahon’s Dr. Doom continues to be a underwhelming character in the movie who pales in comparison to his more regal comic book counterpart. Fan can take solace however on the portrayal of the Silver Surfer who made his transitions to the big screen with his backstory and motivations essentially intact. I just wished that I am not reminded of a Zen master like Morpheus from the Matrix movies every time I hear the character speaks on screen. The Silver Surfer was visually exciting to see on screen but dialogue wise left me feeling that they could have done more. The greatest disservice of the storyline has to be how the decided to portray Galactus in the movie. I had heard rumors of how they say Galactus will look like in the film but never really believed it since it was such an iconic character that people would look out for. Unfortunately for me, what I heard was true. I don’t know which would be more laughable if I saw it on screen, a planet size purple armored humanoid space entity or the Galactus that they decided to go with in the movie. I have a feeling that I would prefer the former because at least they would have made a concession to the comic fans who was already disappointed on how their favorite storyline has been adapted.

While much better than the first Fantastic Four movie and not the worse comic book based film made, “Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer” is quite a disposable film that does not do much to raise the stakes for the film franchise. Clunky dialogue and unmemorable character arches does disservice to the original storyline that the fans were looking forward to. I have to admit that the CGI effects were serviceable enough to make it an enjoyable watch but other than the flashy action sequences, there was not enough substance in the 91 minute runtime to make this movie anything more than forgettable.


fadz said...

nasib baik tak nonton filem ni, huhuh..go watch hot fuzz, filem terbaik summer ni..

Nickxandar said...

Hot Fuzz or Hot "Fadz" ... bwahaha !!

Nanti kena check listing kalau ada. Weekend ni balik my parent's house so besar kemungkinan sure kena pau dek my nephew and nieces tuk gi tgk "Transformers"

Lepas "Transformers" the next film I'm planning to watch will be the new Harry Potter film. Nak ikut?