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June 2007


By Wilson Morales


Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Director: Tim Story
Screenwriters: Don Payne and Mark Frost, based on characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Cinematographer: Larry Blanford
Composer: John Ottman
Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chilkis, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington, Andre Braugher, Laurence Fishburne (voice of Silver Surfer), Doug Jones (as Silver Surfer), Beau Garrett, Vanessa Minnillo



When Tim Story was cast of the director of the Fantastic Four, folks were scratching their heads, asking themselves, “Who is this guy?” and “Where did he come from?” Well, prior to getting the gig, Story had helmed “Barbershop” and “Taxi”, with the former being a success with Ice Cube as its star. Anyway, until the film came out, “Fantastic Four” was among the most favorite comic books not to make it to the big screen. There was a small version put out years ago, but it never made it far pass the comic conventions. Unlike the other comic books that had gone to the screen like “Batman”, and “The Incredible Hulk”, and “Spider-man”, “The Fantastic Four” took a lighter approach, making it more feasible for kids to enjoy and laugh at as opposed to the heavy dramatic manner that the others took. Critics didn’t approve, but nevertheless, the film was a success, ensuring Story and the franchise some continuality. Now, with a new production design, and a wealth of “advisors” through his myspace account, Story has heard the fans and came up with a plotline and new character that he hopes will be justified with his critics and at the box office, and yet while the sequel, “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” is a slight improvement over the first film, it still has that level of corniness that prevents the film from ranking up there with the other comic films that have been hailed above expectations. There’s more to be seen and desired from this mediocre film.

Now that the “Fantastic Four” (Reed Richards/ Mr. Fantastic, Sue Storm/ Invisible Girl, Johnny Storm/ The Human Torch, and Ben Grimm/ The Thing) have accepted their special powers and haven’t been ostracized as freaks by the people, they still try hard to live a normal life, although Johnny seems to bask in his glory. As Reed and Sue prepare for their nuptials, some forces of elements are causing massive stoppage of energy around the world, and the government, through General Hager (Braugher) enlists Reed’s help in tracking the source of the problem. At the same time, a silver molecule in human form on a skateboard glides across the country setting up holes in the earth so that his master, a cosmic force named Galactus can come and squeeze Earth of its resources. When the Fantastic Four get wind of this, they set out to stop “The Silver Surfer” (voiced by Fishburne), but don’t realize that he’s much a bigger opponent than their last foe, Victor Von Doom (McMahon), who’s been lurking around and has his agenda.

With Oscar winning visual effects house Weta Digital onboard in this sequel, the f/x design of the film is certainly a grade up. When the Silver Surfer is onscreen, he’s the best thing going for the film. His appearance, and his moves provide a level of interest. We know nothing of him, which can almost be said about the main four as well. None of their traits have change, and that’s of the central issues. The producers must have felt that if they had a success with the first time around, let’s keep it up. Why turn serious all of a sudden? Ben Grimm as the The Thing is annoying as the comic relief, and Sue seems just as puzzled about her gifts as she did in the first film. Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) tries to be the assertive in the group, but does so in a bland way. There’s no soul to this film or any of the characters. That’s how the films plays out, with you wanting more. Even some of the minor characters, such as Alicia Masters and Frankie Raye, who are obviously important in the comics, are not shown their relevance. They merely serve as romantic props. At a running time of 90 minutes, you may be wondering what was left out. While Story may have heard what the fans wanted to see, he apparently didn’t listened carefully as to how to carve out the story.