Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)

Is there anything more disappointing than a film that starts off promisingly -- well, even -- and then falls completely apart by the end? Lots and lots of recent movies seem to have fallen into that trap; but none, perhaps, quite so spectacularly than Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

I'm in a minority here in that I quite liked the first Fantastic Four movie. It wasn't a masterpiece, but it was fun; light and fluffy and entertaining enough, in its own charming little way. The second film is better. No doubt about that; it's better. The action sequences are, with one notable exception, great. The CGI is a little ropey, but it's easily ignored, particularly since everyone seems to be having so much fun.

The first half is silly and sweet: Ioan Gruffudd fits more comfortably into the role of Mr Fantastic, and the banter between The Thing and the Human Torch is spot on. In fact, for most of the film, you could almost squint and believe you were watching the old cartoon; several scenes have been lifted from either the comic or the cartoon, and that shows. Even the dialogue occasionally feels like you could draw a speech bubble around it.

The Surfer himself, a bone of contention for many fans because he appeared to a) look a bit odd and b) have some made-up powers he never used to have, turned out remarkably well. Kudos to Doug Jones, who, as always, was great at bringing the character to life in a strange, slightly non-human seeming way. Kudos, also, to the special effects team - the Surfer flying through space was brilliant, as were the chases with the Human Torch.

That's all the positive stuff. The problem, then? Dr Doom, and Galactus. On paper, Rise of the Silver Surfer looked like it had as many villains as Spider-Man 3, and only an hour and a half to cram them into. Onscreen, however, there wasn't even one villain to be found. The Surfer isn't really a villain, because he's too complicated and weird and anyway, he's only doing what Galactus tells him to; Dr Doom is too rubbish and ineffectual to be a threat (he seriously doesn't do a single thing in this movie, other than serve as a plot device to accomplish something that could easily have been done by someone else) and then there's Galactus.

Oh dear.

I'm firmly in the a-big-pink-giant-would-have-looked-silly camp, so the idea of showing Galactus as a sort of intergalactic storm cloud that envelops and sucks the energy out of every planet it comes across seemed sort of cool. And it almost is: in the final scenes, the sky going black as Galactus arrives looks suitably different from the rest of the film's bright colours and blue skies to be menacing. And then someone forgot to include the reel with the final battle in it.

The whole film seems geared up to having a final, enormous battle between the Fantastic Four, the Surfer, and Galactus. This climax never comes; instead, the Surfer decides, in spite of the fact that if he disobeys Galactus his planet and girlfriend are at stake, he wants to disobey Galactus, and then for no obvious reason the Galactuscloud just sort of goes away.


It's really hard to feel that the film wrapped up the way it was supposed to. There are several emotional strands - like the Torch hooking up with Frankie, the would-be Nova - that don't ever get satisfactorily tied up; Doom, having mysteriously resurrected himself, isn't properly dealt with; and the ineffectual nature of Galactus undermines the entire film, because it turns out he never posed much of a threat to begin with.

I hope there's an extended director's cut coming that deals with these problems, because until the final third, this was a really promising superhero romp. As it stands, it's only half a film.

IMDB link

1 comment:

soulmining said...

I hated the first film and I hated this one just as much. I really thought this was going to be a vast improvement... but no. And you're dead right about Doom/Galactus. Oh dear!