Fantastic Four - The Rise of the Silver Surfer
Oh. I'd rather been hoping for the Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin.
In British cinemas, the first thing you'll see, assuming that you discount the adverts, trailers and dire warnings of the consequences of movie piracy including but not limited to people trafficking, international terrorism, zits and the Hindenburg disaster, is the BBFC title card claiming that the 'proper' name of this film is merely "4 - Rise of the Silver Surfer", which we can take as an early doors admission that what you're about to witness is not, in fact, Fantastic at all. This aside, it's as stupefying as contracting the real title of X-Men 2 to X2, as though letters were our enemies and must be eliminated, so let us trust that should this film be henceforth referred to as "Fantastic Four 2" you'll know what I'm talking about. Other suitable synonyms include but are not limited to 'juvenile' and 'waste of money'.
Now, there's enough supporting evidence to know that the first Fantastic Four exists. DVDs in the fossil record, that sort of thing. Indeed, there's even a review by some know-nothing old fossil called Scott Morris on this very site. However, in all of Christendom there is no man alive that can remember exactly what happened during that film, as though it wandered up to the doors of perception then realised it has left the oven on and ran away before strolling through. I can't back that up with paperwork, however. The alternative explanation for my remarkable absence of recollection can therefore only be that so little of any note happened therein that I didn't note it. As such the revelation that Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon) isn't dead doesn't have quite the dramatic impact I guess was intended, as I hadn't recalled exactly what happened to him in the first place.
Yet back he most certainly is, and must team up with the titular four superheroes to combat the iffy CG menace of the Silver Surfer, the molecule bothering emissary from a distant planet travelling through the galaxy leaving a wake of barren, empty rocks that were once vibrant, life infested planets. Can Stretch Armstrong (Ioan Gruffudd) and his merry men (Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis) stop the Earth being eaten by a cloud of dust, at least as best as I can interpret what the effects team were showing the conclusion to be? Can the Evil Victor 'Evil' Von Evil be trusted or will he revert to his evil ways? Will the religious alignment of the Pope be confirmed? Is sarcasm the lowest form of wit? Where's me washboard?
All of these questions will be answered if you can be bothered to sit through this deeply uninspiring film. It's actually rather fashionable to dislike this film, as the slew of negative reviews will attest to. As my basic character trait is contrary, this rankles me, and I do so loathe being rankled. Join me as I mount a defence of Fantastic Four 2!
It's pretty poor. Hmm. This defence isn't going so well.
It's pretty poor, but, well, it's not an easy film to truly, properly hate. The decision to target a younger audience with this outing is evident almost from the off, and with a character who can deform himself at will with no ill effects there's a scope for physical comedy that would put Mr. Bean to shame, if he had any. Even this clowning around, the one thing that could truly differentiate it from its myriad of superheroes flick competitors vying for your entertainment dollarpound is executed somewhat half-heartedly, popping up at a few arbitrary moments as though it's been clumsily cut 'n' pasted in rather than becoming a stylistic direction.
The special effects are far from special, things often seeming to have been given a push in the direction of 'cartoony' but only far enough to look inconsistent with the rest of the action. Mr. Surfer himself looks less convincing than our 16 year old robopsycho friend T-1000 from T2. The actual threat to the planet remains fairly vague throughout, and at any rate any superhero film tends to only be as good as the villain of the piece. With the ultimate threat coming from a characterless planet eating galactic thingumabob (conveniently enough called Galactus, which no doubt has some significance to the anorak contingent), it's perhaps no surprise that the film itself is a rather bland, characterless blob of a film that's only real achievement is in being too bland and characterless to give much of a damn about one way or the other.
Hmmm. In terms of defence quality I believe so far this can be described as a "Lionel Hutz". If there's one thing I've learned through bitter personal experience it's that if you're in a hole, stop digging, so join me in throwing down the shovels and letting Fantastic Four 2 gently wipe itself from our collective memories in much the same way that the first one did, taking with it the bizarre approach to time elapsing (scenes in America precede scenes in London with little more than a jumpcut between them, remotely summoned aircraft travel from America to Siberia in the time taken to climb three flights of stairs) and its (by no means exclusive) bafflingly obtuse attitudes of authority figures (the US Army doesn't trust Richards for no readily discernible reason but shows no hesitation whatsoever about trusting Doctor Doom completely. Doctor Doom of all people! The clue's even in his name! He's a wrong'un and no mistake, guv.). Help! I'm breaking out in parentheses! If I was feeling less lazy I'd rewrite this paragraph to be a bit more elegant, but if the film-makers aren't going to bother I don't see why I should. An eminently ignorable film.
Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 2/5 TippyMarks.
Jessica Alba (Sue Storm)
Chris Evans (Johnny Storm)
Michael Chiklis (Ben Grimm)
Julian McMahon (Victor Von Doom)