Review: Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surver

Published 8 years ago by , Updated February 9th, 2012 at 9:30 pm,

By Vic Holtreman

Short version: Although at times it felt like a made-for-TV movie, a far better film than the first and more entertaining than the super-serious Spider-man 3.

silver surfer Review: Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver SurverSo it’s possible.

Not only can a sequel be better than the original, but it can be done with the same director and writer. By process of elimination, it would seem that the blame for how bad the first film was can perhaps be laid at the feet of the one guy missing from the new production crew: writer Michael France. I can’t say for sure, but at the top level it seems like pretty much everyone from the first film was still there for the second one. Pure speculation on my part, of course.

Anyway, on to the review…

It seems that expectations were all over the place for Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer – The first one was pretty awful, would this one be any better? Rumors of Galactus being portrayed as a giant cloud, Laurence Fishburne’s voice not fitting the CGI Silver Surfer, etc., etc. However I posted about the first whiffs of possibility that this sequel might be better than the first about a month ago. And guess what? It is better.

Much better, in fact.

The film opens with a shot of a planet being destroyed and then a look at the Silver Surfer, albeit only identifiable as a comet-like projection zooming through space. We’re re-introduced to our heroes, and their individual personality quirks are all still there. Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) and Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) have apparently tried multiple times to get married, but some emergency/disaster always seems to pop up to keep them from exchanging their vows. To complicate things they are now very popular celebrities, whose lives seem to be in the spotlight as much as Paris Hilton’s.

Reed vows that this time the wedding will happen and although he still has a bit of the “Absent Minded Professor” vibe, in his heart he’s committed to making Sue happy. Of course despite his best intentions, the military wants him to build a device to detect the Silver Surfer, and our silver friend zooms right past the Baxter Building as the wedding is in progress. Also alerted to the arrival of this alien presence is Victor von Doom (Julian McMahon), who was last seen stored as cargo on a ship bound for Latveria. Doom meets up with the Silver Surfer and the result of his encounter is that he is no longer horribly scarred.

After Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) comes in contact with the Silver Surfer, the team discovers that he can now switch powers with other members of the team. There’s a funny moment when Sue absorbs his ability to burst into flame, and when the ever vain Johnny takes on Ben Grimm’s (Michael Chiklis) appearance.

A military general that Reed has had dealings with in the past grudgingly turns to the team for help, and after they flub an incident with the Surfer in London pretty badly, the general decides to bring in Doom to work with Reed despite the warnings the Fantastic Four give him that Doom cannot be trusted.

Along the way Reed determines that planets visited by the Surfer are destroyed within a matter of days of his arrival and sets about coming up with a way to separate the Surfer from his cosmic surfboard, apparently the source of his power. Of course as you can imagine Dr Doom (aka Victor) wants to get his hands on such a powerful device.

Enough about the story… is the movie any good? Yeah, it is. Overall I hate to admit that for the most part I found it a more enjoyable experience than Spider-Man 3. Granted, it may not be fair to compare the two… despite the fact that they’re both in the superhero genre, they are as fundamentally different in their approach as Batman Begins was to Superman Returns. While Spidey 3 was heavy and overall pretty much a downer (not a criticism in and of itself), despite it’s end of the world storyline Rise of the Silver Surfer was a much more fun movie to sit through. The interactions between members of the team seemed much more natural and indeed like that of a bickering family and I really liked the change in Reed’s character from the first film: Here he actually seemed like the Reed Richards of the comics – more mature, confident and secure in his genius. One scene in particular where he puts the general in his place put a huge grin on my face. I also liked that they added some depth to Johnny Storm this time around.

Ben Grimm was pretty much the same, although the prosthetics did give him more subtlety of expression, which was appreciated. However Jessica Alba as Sue Storm, while exceedingly pleasant to look at, just did not generate much depth no matter how hard she tried. I don’t know, maybe her beauty is too distracting? One thing I found quite funny in particular was director Tim Story’s decision to have her wear glasses in many of the scenes in the film. Can you get a more classic (or cliche) method of trying to make someone seem intelligent than slapping a pair of black framed glasses on their face? icon smile Review: Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surver

And yes folks, Galactus is indeed basically a giant, planet-sized storm cloud. I’m not a purist when it comes to Fantastic Four and I do believe that some things in comics would just seem absurd in a live action big screen movie, so it didn’t bother me much. Perhaps they could have come up with some other solution, but honestly I think they did pretty well with the concept of a giant planet eating entity.

As to the PG rating, I can see why it was not given a PG-13 with what passes for PG-13 these days, but for those of you with little ones, it does push the PG envelope pretty hard. There were some moments in the film that may be pretty intense and scary for little kids. Just don’t go into this expecting Shrek.

Overall, while certainly not a great movie, I thought it was pretty good and very entertaining. I would be more likely to watch this one again than I would Spider-Man 3, if that means anything to you. icon smile Review: Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surver

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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  1. I must agree, I liked this movie better than the first and though it was sort of slow paced (I was waiting for the big fight that never really came), it was still fun. And I thought Galactus looked coooooooool (and no, I never did read the comic book).

    All in all, not too bad. Nice to see a super kid friendly comic book movie.

  2. Yeah, I’m surprised by the low rating over at Rotten Tomatoes (38%) but not so much by some of the viciously negative reviews from some fanboy sites ( for example).


  3. Nice job with this review. I agree with much of what you’ve written.

    I think one reason the second movie is much better is that they didn’t have to spend so much time dealing with the origin of the Fantastic Four. They could dig right in with the story this time. The first movie felt like an introduction to the Fantastic Four more than it did a complete movie in itself.

  4. Ah, but it IS possible to do a good origin story… look at the first Spiderman movie. Excellent movie although it was mostly an origin story.

    The first FF movie was just poorly done and I am very surprised that virtually the same team was able to produce such an improved sequel.


  5. Well,I have to say that I (as usual) enjoyed your review,Vic,and thought that the film was good too,even though I was a little dissapointed at first.But later on the more I thought about it I kinda liked it. I have to confess I am a bit of a comics purist,not as tight fisted as some might be,but I did miss Galactus a little. At first I was willing to accept the fact that Galactus wouldn’t be the same Galactus from the comics and that he instead would be in the form of a giant cosmic cloud.Let it be said that in the comics he can change his form in to almost anything he wants.Regardless of that,I did expect him to speak a little at least towards the end of the movie when the Surfer tries to destroy him. I have a hard time accepting the fact that the Silver Surfer destroyed Galactus at the end of the film. If he had the power to do that I think he would have done it long ago. I think that the Surfer leading Galactus away from Earth might’ve been a better idea. But I am more frustrated with Dr.Doom’s exit from the picture;dropped in a lake? That’s it for one of Marvel’s greatest villains? I was at least expecting him to crawl up out of that lake after Galactus left and maybe fire some shots at the FF from one of his gauntlets and spout out a line while hovering in the air above them like: “It’s not over yet,Fantastic Four!! I will have my vengeance!! I will get you next time,Richards!!” and with that press a button on one of his gauntlets and disappear. That would’ve been a more fitting exit,I think,for Doom. His exit was almost as laughable as Scarecrow’s in Batman Begins;shot by a taser “Ayyaagrhh!” what?! And there’s a slight problem with the end part where the Torch gets all the FF’s powers and that is:he doen’t lose any of his! Earlier in the film it was intended that he could only switch powers fellow teammates,not suck everyone’s powers from them without trading some of his! Someone please shed some light on this. Maybe I’ve got a bad memory.On the up side I think that Dr. Doom’s final costume was great.It really reminded me of the one from the comics. The Silver Surfer looked and sounded great. The Thing looked good and the Fantasticar was freakin’ sweet! I even thought Alba’s performance was pretty good. I think it should’ve been a little longer though. Also,I don’t think that Fox was going out of their way to get a PG rating.I think that they were just trying to make a movie and didn’t particularly care whether it was PG or not. Now I’ve got 3 ideas for a FF3:#1 The Submariner finds Doom in that body of water he fell in and he and Submariner team up and attack the FF. #2 is Dr. Doom helps form the Frightful Four with the Wizard and instead of Sandman they should use Hydro-Man as a member.#3 is the FF face off against the Puppet Master,Dr.Doom,and Annihulis.Maybe. Let me know what you think! (and be nice LOL)

  6. i heard that tim story was interested in
    involving the the black panther in FF3
    i would like to see the inhumans myself

  7. Yes, Spiderman is a perfect example of a well done action movie that includes the character’s origin. I’d also throw Batman Begins in that category as well.

    Both of those movies were much longer than the first Fantastic Four, though. I don’t have a problem with the quality of the work in Fantastic Four, but I think that it needed another 30+ minutes to add a legitimate story to it.

    Also, both Spiderman and Batman Begins only deal with one superhero. Fantastic Four’s origins have to handle the development of four characters’ powers. The origin is the same, but still, it takes more effort and time to show how they develop.

  8. The Black Panther would be cool but I think I would save him for an Avengers movie. The Inhumans would be cool too but I think they would steal some of the FF’s thunder and that the FF need to face something less cosmic and more down to earth in a sequel. I would like to see at least 2 hours in a sequel and would like to see the FF face off against some supervillain(s) that they have to fight at least 3 times throughout the movie. I want to see Dr.Doom again and maybe the Mole Man and his Subterranians along with the Wizard and maybe a misguided Submariner.That would be a cool big screen version of the Frightful Four.

  9. Kel,

    Although Doom’s dunk looked final, I’m quite sure they won’t kill him off. Unless of course they think it would be redundant to bring him back for yet a third film.

    You make some good points regarding Galactus: It would have been nice to have some communication between him and the Surfer. As it was, they almost portrayed it like a mindless entity, similar to the Doomsday Machine from that old Star Trek episode.


  10. All interesting comments and reviews. I’m glad people are making intelligent postings as well, unlike most of what the twits on Ain’t It Cool News generally tend to post.

    My thoughts: if you look carefully, it appears that the face of Galactus–helmet and all–are visible at the center of the cloud just before the Surfer goes nova. I thought it was a nice way of incorporating the comic book incarnation into the movie. (And to all of you nay-sayers, can you honestly tell me that a giant in purple spandex with that antennae-array on his head wouldn’t have looked totally ridiculous?)

    Also, I too don’t believe Doom is gone, and the movie certainly didn’t say he’d drowned (unlike Spider-Man 2, where it was pretty obvious that the good Doctor was a goner before he sank into the darkness).

    I would’ve liked to see a longer movie with more going on, but the FF movies seem to be geared for a younger crowd–like Superman Returns–and tend to shy away from the darker stuff like the X-Men, Batman Returns and Spider-Man movies have done. Probably a marketing decision: keep it light on content and rating, parents will bring younger kids and they’ll all want the toys. Makes sense from a bean-counter POV. Besides, they made it clear they want to do a Silver Surfer spin-off, and setting up the character like this was an easy way to do it. If done properly, a SS movie could easily venture into the darker, philosophical territory as it suits that character better than it does the FF.

    All in all, my kids and I had a good time.

  11. MrMAB,

    LOL… yeah, definitely not the same crowd here as at AICN. Most of the talkbackers there strike me as a bunch of punks.

    I didn’t notice the Galactus detail you pointed out, but in regards to a longer movie, I would guess that there will be a “expanded edition” DVD at some point… probably a few months after the “standard” DVD release. :-)

    My daughter enjoyed it as well and thought it was better than the first.


  12. “Mindless entity” Vic,ya got that right. How could something like that give the Surfer his powers? Ah well. I liked the movie and it was better than Spider-Man 3. I think the extended FF movie has a great opening title/theme sequence and I wish that for FF2 they would’ve used that FF theme at the beginning of the film. I did spot a shadow of Galactus’ helmet on the planet Saturn as he made his way to earth. I do like Ioan Gruffud,Chris Evans,Michael Chicklis,and Julian McMahon as the characters they played. I’m still making up my mind about Alba though.

  13. I really, really liked this movie a lot. My expectations were low, and I truly enjoyed it. It looked great on my HDTV, so they did a wonderful job with the transfer.

    I give it 3.75 stars out of 5.


  14. See Heath? That’s why you write for SR. Our tastes match almost all of the time. :-)