After sitting through the controversial new Fantastic Four film and revisiting Marvel's 2005 attempt at bringing Jack Kirby and Stan Lee's beloved, (and ever-so slightly) wacky superheroes to life cinematically, I thought I'd finally look back at the sequel, a film I did not care for upon its release and did not watch after that.
Is it as bad as a remember it?
Luckily no. Much like the first Fantastic Four movie, I had more fun with this effort than I expected. The cast (except, of course, Jessica Alba) once again does a pretty decent job, Chris Evans particularly, and the addition of iconic character The Silver Surfer was an inspired choice. A mixture of (now dated) CGI and practical effects (with good old Doug Jones once again buried head to toe in make-up) plus Laurence Fishburne's booming voice, the Surfer is such an interesting character he almost fully overshadows the Fantastic Four here, making us wish we were watching his movie instead of theirs. While the Four's story is cartoony, small and a little clumsy, the Surfer's is tragic, epic and dark, the two never merging all that convincingly together. Incidentally, even John Ottman's big Silver Surfer theme is so good it makes you forget about the Fantastic Four's.
The plot, this time around, is much more padded and convoluted. The script could have definitely done with some heavy trimming. The wedding of Mr Fantastic and Invisible Girl makes up a big part of the movie and one couldn't imagine a more boring aspect for kids and even adults looking to see an action-packed comic-book movie: this could have been cut altogether. As could have Doctor Doom's criminally shoehorned-in comeback which is more distracting than anything and makes very little to no sense. He's forgotten about almost entirely every time we cut back to another character. The sight of him riding that surfboard also adding some unintentional lols to the whole thing.
Action-wise, there are some respectable sequences in the film which make it entertaining as a whole. The scenes in which The Human Torch is pursuing the Silver Surfer are really enjoyable, and the Surfer's systematic destruction of Earth brings a more appropriate amount of threat to the story than in the first film. This time, you really do feel like the whole world is at stake rather than just the three blocks this one cloaked metal guy could have potentially destroyed. Unfortunately, another distraction is the humour in the film which works even less than it did the first time around. Yes seeing Johnny Storm switch powers with The Thing is amusing, as is Stan Lee being refused entry to the wedding due to not being on the guest list in his cameo. There's just way too much powers-related goofiness and marriage-themed jokes (we all love 'em) in a film where some potentially really cool things are going on!
Overall, Rise Of The Silver Surfer is no full-blown disaster but it's definitely not great. Messier and ultimately worse than its predecessor, it still delivers The Silver Surfer's first big-screen outing since... ever and it has its genuinely fun moments so it remains infinitely better than the dull-fest we were offered this year.
Surfer spin-off movie pleeeeeease.