Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

18 ratings (18 Epinions reviews)
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Fantastic Who?

Feb 9, 2009
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: OK

  • Action Factor:
  • Special Effects:
  • Suspense:

Pros:Chemistry between Gruffud and Alba; unusualness of the Silver Surfer

Cons:Galactus' form can only be guessed at; otherwise unoriginal

The Bottom Line: I am not sure whether this film should be watched by die hard fans only, or whether they would be put off by the deviations from the source material.


Plot Details: This opinion reveals everything about the movie's plot.

In 1966, barely four years into the run of Marvel Comics' "Fantastic Four," Stan Lee gave his team a god to fight for nothing less than the fate of the earth.  This god appeared in New York standing a hundred feet tall and wearing a bizarre helmet.  His herald was the Silver Surfer, a being with whom he shared a small slice of the Power Cosmic and who sought out lively, edible planets for the god to feed on.  The god was named Galactus.  The FF were eventually able to defeat Galactus by sneaking into his Worldship and stealing the Ultimate Nullifier, one of his weapons, and training it on him, which persuaded him to back off.

The first thing I wrote under "Cons" for the movie version of this story is that the portrayal of Galactus was "untraditional."  I changed what I wrote because that is unfair -- I had imagined doing Galactus and his herald in a rather untraditional way.  A herald historically was a guy who stood in front of a king and announced he was coming (there are plenty of old movies where the French king's herald walks into a room and shouts, "Le ROI!" at the top of his voice).  In my imagination I pictured the Silver Surfer appearing on another planet in Old Testament garb (complete with flowing beard) and proclaiming "Galactus is coming!" in a singsong voice.  The people laugh at him until Galactus' Worldship (so big that planets follow it from star to star, according to the comics) blots out their sun.  (I would have added planets orbiting the Worldship at various speeds, of course.)  A tiny speck detaches from the main ship and descends to the planet -- it is the humanoid, but Godzilla-size Galactus.  As he is close enough to be clearly observed the Surfer changes his chant and proclaims, "Galactus is HERE!"  A sheet of flame then devours everything except Galactus and the Surfer, whose true form is revealed as his disguise burns away.

Anyway, so much for my ideas.  In this film Galactus is a cloud of smoke several times bigger than the Earth who extends smoky tentacles down to the surface of a planet he is about to devour.  The tentacles enter the planet through holes hundreds of meters wide drilled instantly by the Surfer and squeeze it until it bursts into flames or shatters or both (we get to see this process at the very beginning of the film).  It is the Surfer drilling the holes that alerts Earth authorities (specifically the US Army) that something is wrong.  Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffud) is consulted with and builds what is intended to be a tracking system for the phenomenon.  In some way not otherwise explained, the Surfer also brings (presumably unintentionally) Dr. Doom (Julian McMahon) out of suspended animation.  He begins tracking the Surfer as well.

There are two reasons for my limiting this film to two stars, which boil down to the same reason.  I was unable to remain awake the last time I watched this film because, basically, it is so much like every other superhero film that came out this decade.  The effects are the same, the good guys are the same and the bad guys are the same. 

There are two major exceptions to this rule.  First, I like the fact that Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba) are getting married and their wedding preparations add a little bit of humor to the film (especially when, in the inevitable cameo, Stan Lee is turned away from the wedding).  Second, the Silver Surfer is highly morally ambiguous (at least at the beginning).  Marvel fans know that eventually he turns into a hero.  He goes in this film from ominous threat, to pathetic guy trying to save his planet in between torture sessions at the hands of the military, to hero.  In a way having the Surfer confront Galactus and save Earth was an improvement on having Reed Richards do it (he being so much more obviously powerful than Reed). 

But other than that, what makes these characters unique?  Leaving out the Silver Surfer, a better movie was made about characters with very similar powers a few years earlier -- it was called "The Incredibles."  That movie's villain is a big improvement over Dr. Doom, too, and it had a lot more humor.  If you want a good superhero movie, watch that one.  Only die-hard Marvel fans should probably see this.


Recommend this product? No


Video Occasion: None of the Above
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 9 - 12

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