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|4: Rise of the Silver Surfer|
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Tim Story|
scr Don Payne, Mark Frost
with Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington, Andre Braugher, Beau Garrett, Doug Jones, Laurence Fishburne, Brian Posehn, Zach Grenier
release US/UK 15.Jun.07
07/US Fox 1h32
Save the world: Chiklis, Gruffudd, Alba and Evans
With a livelier script and stronger production values, this sequel far outdoes the 2004 original. Funnier comedy, more interesting characters and much slicker effects work make it a terrific guilty pleasure.
The Fantastic Four are having trouble balancing their professional and personal lives. Reed and Sue (Gruffudd and Alba) can't get married without being interrupted by a crisis. Johnny (Evans) can't settle down with a girl, not that he's trying. And Ben (Chiklis) is made of stone, although his girlfriend (Washington) doesn't seem to mind. Now the world is about to be devoured by an evil force heralded by a glistening silver guy on a surf board (Jones, with Fishburne's voice). And they may need to team up with nemesis Victor Von Doom (McMahon) to save the planet.
The filmmakers strike a humorous tone early on, combining a colourful comic book design with goofy comedy to get us chuckling. Jokes about invasive paparazzi and corporate sponsorship abound, even as both are the franchise's bread and butter. And the wink-nudge innuendo will keep kids feeling like they're watching something vaguely grown up, even though any TV sitcom takes things far further than this tame movie. Meanwhile, we know the wackiness will soon be interrupted by something nefarious and earth-threatening.
And it's pretty impressive. After a slightly awkward plot set-up, things kick into gear, combining thrilling action with genuinely clever gags (the power-swapping is ingenious). It's great to see a full-on London effects sequence, as well as subtle references to, of all things, rendition and human rights issues. Yes, it's still simplistic, with the requisite boneheaded military idiot (Braugher) and some extremely random scenes, but it's also thoroughly cool--especially the foursome's new vehicle and the surfer himself. There's also an intriguingly serious final twist. Ish.
Clearly, Stan Lee and Marvel have an obsession with embarrassing disco dancing this year (see also Spider-man 3). But it helps that the cast are having a lot more fun this time. They're engagingly relaxed and allowed to deepen the characters and play around with the iconography. Honestly, this is how the first film should have been, and it bodes well for more to come.
Laurie T, Minneapolis: "Okay - I admit I am a sucker for these comic book type movies, having grown up reading them. And those comics aren't like the ones today - they had a real begining and ending. That being said, I dragged my husband to see this - he is not a fan.
We both liked this one better than the first - and it made my husband laugh. A good time at the movies - and it was cooler than the 90-plus degree heat outside. I felt it was well done and entertaining." (16.Jun.07)
Sverrir Fridriksson, Iceland: "Better then the original, yes, but the original was also very faithful to the comics. The fans of the X-Men and Spider-Man movies might not appreciate the light tone, but I think it's important for some of the Marvel movies to be funny and not too heavy on the whole 'Burden of being a superhero' thing. The actors seem to be having a great time, Alba is now much more like Sue Storm, and although Johnny's jokes are pretty lame at first, they get better. The action is great, and unlike so many movies, the CGI just adds to the exitement, instead of just being annoyingly overdone. So, great fun, hoping for more." (20.Jun.07)
Ashley Soberanis, Chicago: "This movie is better than the first! Johnny Storm aka Human Torch (Chris Evans) is a joke machine (and HOT too ! Almost everytime he's on screen he cracks a joke out of nowhere that makes you laugh alot (I know I did). The rest of the crew - Invisible Woman, Mr Fantastic and The Thing - are just incredible. I mean Fantastic!!! Best movie I had ever seen." (10.Jul.07)
© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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