The sequel to the moderate successful, but critically panned Fantastic Four was released in 2007 and reunited the original cast and director Tim Story. Drawing influence from a number of classic stories from the original comic book run, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer takes the action from New York to London to outer space, taking $289m from a budget of $130m along the way.
During another attempt to get married to his girlfriend Sue Storm (Jessica Alba), genius scientist and leader of the superhero group the Fantastic Four, Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) is interrupted by the appearance of a powerful entity from space. Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) follows the being, the Silver Surfer (Laurence Fishburne), and discovers he is creating holes all over planet Earth to that his master, Galactus can consume the planet. The appearance of the surfer awakens frozen supervillain Doctor Doom (Julian McMahon) from hibernation, who then strikes a deal with the Government to capture the surfer, but as always, he has nefarious other plans.
Taking up a little time on from the original Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer shows a far greater handling of character and pacing from director Tim Story. The dialogue and action is still clearly aimed at the under-12 audience, but the film has a better sense of humour and while camper than the first it’s also far more fun. There’s a neat series of power-swapping scenes among the team and the interplay between The Thing and The Human Torch is better than before, but the real highlight is the popular anti-hero, The Silver Surfer.
Designed by WETA, those responsible for The Lord of the Rings films, the surfer cuts a striking image against the brightly-coloured family friendly world of the Fantastic Four. He is suitably melancholy and other-worldly, while his introduction is handled with enough panache to make an impact. As Johnny rightly points out, that is cool. Sadly his dialogue is limited and he only appears in a couple of action scenes, which leaves him feeling, despite the title of the film, like nothing more than a bit-part. His master Galactus, who appears exclusively as smoke is also disappointing, especially considering his rich heritage and impact on the Marvel Comic Book Universe.
In terms of action films for pre-teens Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is far better than its predecessor, but in the canon of comic book film adaptations it is still woefully lacking in terms of character, influence and longevity. The Surfer himself is nothing more than a neat supporting character and while the ending is far stronger than the original, there is very little to remember from this run-of-the-mill superhero film.
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