Rise of the Silver Surfer

Rise of the Silver Surfer

Oct 28

I’ve already bitched hither and yon about Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and how their ability (or lack thereof) to deliver the ideal big-screen Galactus would make or break the film for me.

Well, their Galactus turned out to be…a big cloud swarmy thing, like bees upon bees inside a storm. It wasn’t the big freaky purple dude that is iconic and crazy brilliant like its creator, Jack Kirby.

Though that meant a lot to me before the movie came out, once I started watching Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, it didn’t occur to me once. I’d like to attribute that to a great wave of involvement and enjoyment with the film itself, but I think I just forgot.

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Rise of the Silver Surfer is enjoyable, but not very involving. It’s a half-hour too short, probably, to really deliver. In a strange perversion of the usual comic book movie mistakes, this flick maybe doesn’t have enough in it, as opposed to having too much; they could honestly have used another villain.

What is there, in the 90 minutes we get, is actually pretty good. The creators behind this series of films haven’t yet managed to create the Fantastic Four’s world in a credible way that delivers the full promise of the world created in the comics, which is their greatest flaw. However, they have managed to create very appealing and faithful versions of the characters themselves, even Sue Storm (a problem for even the best writers of the FF in the comics) and Doctor Doom, who spent the first movie careening around as a bit of a doofus before finally coming into his own in this flick. He finally gets the medieval castle and the megalomania his character requires.

The Silver Surfer himself comes off relatively well, although he’s played for noble silence and mystery more than anything else, where his character in the comics was more fond of aimless pontificating, even when he was alone on his board zipping around the cosmos.

I mentioned that the filmmakers have yet to create a worthy film universe for the Fantastic Four to inhabit, and that’s where the movies will always stumble. Proof of this is in the Surfer himself; instead of being the herald of some larger cosmic threat that has the potential to blow minds, he sorta becomes the show himself. I would guess this is because they thought they could sell lots of toys of this cool-looking silvery dude.

But really, is a giant purple man standing amid the skyscrapers of New York City really any less credible than a silver dude who flies on a surfboard, or for that matter, a giant orange rock fella? It’s such an arbitrary line that I wish they’d find some way to push it away entirely and give us the FF unfettered by some screenwriter/director/executive’s idea of “realistic superheroes.” Because there are moments where these characters really sing, and it’s a shame they’re not allowed to fully shine.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a great rental–not too long, not too short, and the perfect Saturday night entertainment. It’s a good movie, but not a great one. Given how horribly wrong it COULD have been, I’m pronouncing it a success.

2 comments

  1. I still maintain that Doom isn’t working in the FF movies, but I agree with you on everything else.

    And I’ve said it before – McMahon is such a perfect choice for Doom. He’s just being written so petulantly. I’m also thinking that either he or the suits don’t want their pretty boy wearing a mask for the whole movie, and that by itself kind of grates on me. Maybe that means I’m more of a bitter old fanboy than I pretend.

  2. I’ll meet you on the Doom thing, actually–he works in this movie, but he’s nowhere near as great as he could be.

    Thing is, he doesn’t even have that strange a character background to begin with–he’s a bitter college kid who hates his intellectual nemesis. Then he gets crazy and gets burned and he’s a bad guy. They’ve never really made that clear enough, only suggested it, and I don’t really get it.

    This seems to be a film series made by good talent whose biggest flaw is that they look at something intrinsically perfect as the FF and say, “This would be great…if only it was COOLER.”

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