Friday, June 15, 2007

From the Archive: "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" Review

Film Rating: B+

Welcome to The Archive, a comprehensive collection of reviews dating back to 2007, originally written for The Denver Post’s YourHub.Com website and print edition!  In the archive, you’ll find hundreds of movie, DVD, Blu-Ray, and TV reviews, along with other special features.  You can access the complete Archive Collection by clicking here, and read about the archive project by clicking here. 

Continue reading after the jump to access my original review of “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.”

From the Jonathan R. Lack Review Archives:
“Fantastic Four:
Rise of the Silver Surfer”
Originally published June 15th, 2007

To say this film exceeded my expectations would be completely true, but is a very bland way of putting it.  See, since my expectations were based on the first film, all “Rise of the Silver Surfer” had to be was a competent movie.  A better way to express my feelings on this film was to say I was pleasantly surprised that this is a fresh, funny, and exciting summer blockbuster that blows the original film clean out of the water.  Don’t fear, superhero fans; you can now forget all about the original “Fantastic Four” and embrace this new movie which is everything a Fantastic Four movie should be.

The film starts with Reed (Mr. Fantastic) and Sue (The Invisible Woman) preparing to tie the knot when strange occurrences around the globe begin to take place.  At the wedding, something zooms past the party, and Johnny Storm (Human Torch) flames on and follows it, finding out it is a silver man flying around on a surf board, hence the name, silver surfer.  Further scientific investigation tells the Fantastic Four that this Silver Surfer has the power to change matter, and that wherever it visits, eight days later the planet dies.  At the same time, Dr. Doom has awoken from his slumber the Four put him in last time around, and decides to try and take down the Silver Surfer and get the guy’s powers for himself.

Alright, I don’t want to give any more away; some of the fun is seeing the plot develop.  Fans of the comic book know what’s going to happen, but for those who haven’t read the comics, prepare to be pleasantly surprised by the well-constructed plot that plays itself out very nicely.  “The Godfather” this ain’t, but it is tons of fun and plenty coherent to make for a great summer movie.

Virtually every aspect of this movie is a million times better than its predecessor.  First off, the acting shows the most noticeable improvement.  Ioan Gruffudd actually seems smart in his role as Reed Richards this time around, not just a dumb actor reading lines.  Chris Evans doesn’t take his antics too far as the Human Torch, and finds the right balance of goofiness and sincerity.  Julian McMahon is not nearly as bland as he was last time in his role of Dr. Doom; he’s actually a menacing villain this time.  And Michael Chiklis once again steals the show as Ben Grimm, the tragic hero called “The Thing.”  He adds a much needed sense of humanity to the film, as he did with the first one.  Sadly, Jessica Alba still needs to take an acting 101 class, but it’s a small complaint; she works well enough in the context of the film. 

The other huge improvement in this movie is simply the overall plot.  The writers came up with a great plot that has 3 big villains, with enough twists to keep it interesting up until the very satisfying conclusion.  This time, its not just four superheroes sitting around for ninety minutes; they’re actually doing stuff the whole time.  The script opens itself up to much more action than the first film.  Most of the action is saved for the end, but the rest of the movie is plenty interesting in setting up plots and getting ready for a final showdown. 

The action really rocks this time too, unlike the original film where the action was laughably lame.  Part of this is that the special effects are way better this time around.  The silver surfer is actually CGI, but you’d never be able to tell that.  Sadly, Mr. Fantastic stretching is still horrible to watch; it looks like unfinished CGI.  But it works, and the plot and action is good enough to forget that flaw.

Of course, this film is fairly campy in parts, and is in no way a masterpiece; but it is a great summer movie.  It’s tons of fun to watch, just as it should be.  Released any other time of year besides summer, this would be pretty bad, but during the summer, this the perfect way to spend 90 minutes.  This is the Fantastic Four movie we were all waiting for in 2005, the one that never arrived.  Turns out it arrived late, and that piece of garbage called “Fantastic Four” was just holding its place.       

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