Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer Review
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Riding the wave of comic book movie success, the Fantastic Four franchise brings the Silver Surfer on-board, hoping that a little flash and some cool effects (not to mention Jessica Alba in a wedding dress) will once again bring the fanboys out in droves. While I wasn’t impressed by 2005’s Fantastic Four, even I was taken in a little bit by the big, shiny Silver Surfer display at the local theater. But despite how cool and shiny the marketing display was, the movie itself is pretty lackluster.

As FF2 begins, Sue “The Invisible Woman” Storm (Alba) and Reed “Mr. Fantastic” Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) are preparing to tie the knot in a lavish, star-studded wedding. But as Sue is trying to pull super-genius Reed away from his experiments long enough to help her pick out a china pattern, a silver being on a silver surfboard begins appearing at various places around the world, leaving a wake of blackouts and natural disasters.

  
 
Sue and Reed, along with Johnny “The Human Torch” Storm (Chris Evans) and Ben “The Thing” Grimm (Michael Chiklis), are asked to help the government figure out what’s going on—and how to stop it. As Sue continues to worry about last-minute wedding details, Reed heads to his lab, where he discovers that wherever the Silver Surfer (voiced by Laurence Fishburne) goes, planets die eight days later. The Fantastic Four have to act fast to save the planet—and, to make matters worse, they’re forced to do so while working with their mysteriously resurrected nemesis, Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon).

There’s so much to say about this big shiny bore that I’m not even sure where to start. Maybe I’ll just start with an easy one—the bad acting. Now, I’ll cut Michael Chiklis some slack here, since his character is made out of stone. But that doesn’t give the rest of the cast the right to act like they are, too. The performances are either completely lacking in emotion or laughably melodramatic. Nothing about the acting (or the writing, for that matter) feels the least bit natural. Alba is, by far, the worst offender—but who am I kidding here? Nobody cares if Jessica Alba can act.

Laurence Fishburne, however, shows plenty of emotion—as long as that emotion is despair. He’s clearly depressed by the fact that he’s playing the voice of a giant silvery blob—Not even a cool evil henchman...just the voice of a silver blob!—and he can’t help but spread his depression to those around him. The Silver Surfer looks really cool, and he has more power than pretty much anyone in the universe. But even Phenomenal Cosmic Power can’t cheer the guy up. Whenever he speaks, you can’t help but heave a deep, despairing sigh.

So, before it started, this movie had one major thing going for it (if you don’t count the whole Alba-in-a-wedding-dress thing, which I don’t): the Silver Surfer. But, in actuality, the movie is closer to Fantastic Four: Battle for Wedded Bliss. There isn’t nearly as much of the Surfer as you might expect. And while his scenes are pretty cool—and some of the effects are stunning—the movie sometimes feels like a really good 1950s Japanese sci-fi movie. Some of the effects are just plain corny—as is much of the dialogue. After a while, it had me hoping that the clinically depressed silver alien would succeed in destroying the planet—because then we wouldn’t have to worry about a Fantastic Four 3. But alas, the ending makes it pretty clear that the Four will be back for more. And that makes me a little depressed.


DVD Review:
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a new DVD release with quite as many special features as the Power Cosmic Edition of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. There are literally hours of extras to be found on this two-disc set. Along with the film itself (which is included in both widescreen and full-screen formats), there’s a whole disc filled with features that will thrill any fanboy. There, you’ll find a handful of extended/deleted scenes (including a cool deleted opening sequence and even more wedding stuff) with optional commentary. And then there are the features and featurettes. The disc’s five featurettes cover everything from effects to character design to the score. And they give fans a closer look at the Fantasticar and the Silver Surfer—including his comic book origins and the effects used to bring him to the big screen.

My favorite extra, however, was the mind-blowing making-of feature. Though I expected it to be just like every other making-of feature I’ve ever seen—some interviews with the cast and crew and a couple of behind-the-scenes shots—this one really gives viewers an inside look at the process. Starting with pre-production (meetings, location scouting, design) and going through the last day of filming, this incredibly long but eye-opening feature shows what it’s really like behind the scenes.

Even though I wasn’t exactly thrilled by the movie (though, to be honest, I enjoyed it more the second time around), I was definitely impressed by the DVD’s features.

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