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"Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer"

Directed by Tim Story.
Written by Don Payne and Mark Frost.  Based on the comic series by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis.

Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  6/18/07


In making a "Fantastic Four" sequel less than two years after the first film appeared in July of 2005, it appears that someone thought that The People were clamoring for another FF movie, which is odd because no one I know thought the first film was any good, and it didn't exactly blow the world away at the box office, either, grossing $150 million but that was after you factor in the more-than-$100-million budget.

That being said, "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" is a better film overall than the original, thanks mainly to a much-better script and slightly-decreased amounts of cheese throughout the film's very short running time.  But, as superhero movies go, the FF series once again come up short thanks to a sincere lack of action; rated PG, "FF2" (yeah, I'm lazy) is so family-friendly that parents rolled the strollers right into the theater at my screening yesterday at 9 PM.  It even has a plot so simple that our true bad guy is never named, although to start, its name is The Silver Surfer, a being who shows up on Earth one day to wreak havoc by boring out mile-wide holes in about ten places around the globe, one of which just happens to be New York City, where the FF gang just happens to live.  The Four--Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd, still the worst and most unwieldy big-star name in history), Sue Storm (Jessica Alba, surprisingly less hot in this film than you would expect), Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) and The Human Torch (Chris Evans)--are world-famous now but still trying to lead normal lives while fighting crime on weekends; to boot, Sue and Mr. Fantastic are about to get married when all of this bad business is going down.

The film looks great, with fabulous special effects coming mainly in the form of the Surfer and Torch flying all over the place; this is mostly cool-looking for a while.  But there's a lot of Much Ado About Nothing in this movie; when you really boil it down, you never really get much crime fighting from our heroic foursome, and some side quests or minor crimes to deal with while getting after this Surfer business would have made the film more interesting.  We do get a rehashed version of Dr. Doom (Julian McMahon) from the first movie; he isn't that interesting this time around, mainly because you are never quite clear on how it is that he died in the first movie but is clearly very alive in this movie.  Andre Braugher, once TV's best actor, has fallen far in his career and his bit part as a general tasked with learning more about the Surfer only adds to this sad, sad affair.  Alba is atrocious as an actress and nothing she does in "FF2" does anything to change that; the film's best actor, Chiklis, is buried under more makeup and costume than you can shake a stick at, but he is allowed to be the best comic relief option in the movie.

Hey, I wasn't high on the first "FF", but subtle improvements have been made to the franchise over its two-year absence that make me believe that a third film wouldn't be so awful.  This one will go away quietly over the next two weeks as other blockbusters open, but as a $7 option, "FF2" does a decent job.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09