Super Movies – Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Part 1

Two years after last week’s film, the Fantastic Four returned in 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Featuring the same principal cast, one of the same screenwriters, and the same director, the film featured the Fantastic Four squaring off against the Silver Surfer and Galactus, as well as their old foe Doctor Doom.

The film opens with the planet Krypton, burning like a green star in the distant heavens, until it explodes. But not before a tiny glowing rocketship launches from it and heads for Earth. Wasn’t this supposed to be a Marvel movie?

This is not Krypton; that is not Kal-El

Okay, it’s actually something else entirely, causing weird phenomena as it flies around the globe, solidifying water, blacking out Los Angeles and even causing snow in the Egyptian desert. Odd.

Meanwhile, Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny are in an airport, preparing to return home from somewhere. Reed and Sue are horrified to see discussions of their upcoming nuptials on a TV tabloid show, while Ben is eating up the adulation of the children in the waiting area, posing for pictures and even scraping off gravel dust from his fingers as souvenirs (and like the way the comic-book Thing grew rockier over the course of the comic, Michael Chiklis’s make-up seems rockier than before).

And there’s a brief scene on the plane, where they have been relegated to coach. There’s no real dramatic point to the scene, other than to show that even superheroes have to deal with the nuisances that plague normal people. This directly contradicts the usual formula of the blockbuster action sequel, which is to open with a big impressive action sequence. On the one hand, I kind of like the relaxed, family vibe, but on the other hand, the scene spends a few minutes going really nowhere, and I think they might need that time for extra plot later on. Just saying.

When they get back, Sue is frustrated, because they are having this huge celebrity wedding (their fifth attempt at tying the knot) and not only is Reed not helping, she’s pretty sure all the strange phenomena will prove so distracting that they’ll miss their wedding again. And not only do I not love petulant, entitled Sue, but her blue contacts are even brighter and more distracting than in the previous film. She looks seriously odd with them.

Which makes it all the more frustrating that she’s right in her assessment of Reed. He is investigating the disturbances behind her back, a fact Johnny uses to blackmail Reed into going out for a bachelor party. Though Reed is reluctant at first, he eventually gets into it.

The thing I wonder about in this scene is, the first movie made a big deal of saying the reason their uniforms adapted with them was that they had been caught in the same cosmic storm, as opposed to their regular clothes which do not. But now all of Reed’s clothes stretch effortlessly to any length. Maybe he hooked up his cosmic storm simulator to the clothes dryer or something.

Anyway, Sue shows up with General Hager, an old nemesis of Reed’s who needs help with, guess what, the strange global phenomena. The government is concerned it’s some kind of enemy activity and wants it stopped. Reed refuses to help, because of the wedding

Okay, seriously, he actually builds a sensor array behind Sue’s back and swears Ben and Nascar Johnny to secrecy.

As the wedding approaches, the Silver Surfer flies over Latveria and awakens the fossilized Doctor Doom. Meanwhile, Reed is finishing the sensor, Sue’s dealing with an invisible zit, and guests are arriving for the ceremony.

Yeah, that’s the obligatory Stan Lee cameo, this time playing himself rather than Willy Lumpkin the mailman.

Finally, Sue comes out in her white dress and scary blue contacts, and the wedding is on!

Until the Silver Surfer appears, causing a helicopter to crash into the crowd. we’re around a half-hour into the film at this point and finally getting an action sequence, as Reed, Sue and Ben stop the chopper while Johnny chases the Surfer.

Unfortunately, Johnny never had a plan for what to do with him once caught. The Surfer drags Johnny into the upper atmosphere then drops him once his fire is out. Johnny manages a crash-landing in the desert.

So now the Four are committed to helping the General stop the Surfer. Unfortunately, there’s a problem: Johnny’s encounter with the Surfer (who emits the same kind of cosmic radiation that gave them their powers) has left him unstable. He finds this out when he accidentally switches powers with Sue.

Jessica Alba actually has a good moment here, cutting loose with much angry screaming rather than her usual petty pouting. And if you liked She-Torch, you’ll love the amazing John-Thing when Ben decides to try out the power switch for himself.

And while all this is going on, a horribly metal-scarred Doom tracks down the Surfer on a glacier in Greenland and makes him the same type of tempting offer that Lex Luthor did with the Krypton Three in Superman II.

The results are similar. The Surfer first ignores Doom, then when Doom attacks him, the Surfer zaps him with a blast which, um, cures him of his metal affliction and makes him look normal again.

Wow. Aside from the brief wedding smash-up, the film has been remarkably action-free for a superhero sequel. I sure hope some stuff happens next week, and they don’t just sit around a restaurant with the Surfer, complaining about lousy service. Although that might be more interesting and unusual than what we end up with.

See you next week.

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