Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer review, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer DVD review

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Buy your copy from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) half starno starhalf starno starno star Starring: Michael Chiklis, Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans, Jessica Alba, Julian McMahon, Beau Garrett, Andre Braugher, Doug Jones, Laurence Fishburne
Director: Tim Story
Rating: PG
Category: Action/Adventure

Much like the comic book that it’s based on, “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” plays out a lot like if NBC had turned “Heroes” into a half-hour sitcom. It’s respectively shorter, contains the same lame jokes you could only expect from a team of comedy writers, and it even features a storyline involving the end of the world. Granted, the original “Fantastic Four” made the best of its fluffy qualities as a way of introducing the world’s greatest superhero family, but now that we know who they are and what they can do, it’d be nice to get some actual story with our oversized helping of special effects.

The story picks up not long after the conclusion of the first film. The Fantastic Four have become a household name across the world, Johnny (Chris Evans) and Ben (Michael Chiklis) are finally settling into their roles as superheroes, and Reed and Susan (Ioan Gruffudd and Jessica Alba, respectively) are busy planning their much-delayed wedding. But when a strange being referred to as the Silver Surfer (played by Doug Jones and voiced by Laurence Fishburne) arrives on Earth with the intent of destroying it, the Fantastic Four are forced to team up with their old nemesis Dr. Doom (Julian McMahon) to prevent the Surfer’s master, a cosmic entity known as Galactus, from devouring the planet.

Unfortunately, while this should have been a film for the fans, director Tim Story has managed to seriously screw the pooch. Along with the not-so-impressive introduction of Galactus (I don’t want to ruin it, but those expecting the god-like villain from the comics will be disappointed), the film takes so many liberties with its storytelling that it's hard to imagine Stan Lee didn’t have a heart attack while visiting the set. The return of Dr. Doom was completely expected, but could we have gotten a little explanation as to how he recovered so quickly? And don’t even get me started on Doom’s final-act joyride on the Surfer’s board, an idea so idiotic that it could have only been imagined by a bunch of guys who’ve never read a single comic book in their lives.

Of course, there are a few things to admire about “Rise of the Silver Surfer” – namely the titular antagonist who’s been cursed with serving as Galactus’ herald. While the first film was highly criticized for its low-rate special effects, the bar has certainly been met the second time around. Mr. Fantastic’s stretching abilities have always come across as a bit cartoonish in comparison to his fellow teammates, and though the trend continues in this film, it’s a footnote when you consider how amazing the Silver Surfer looks. The character himself is also a refreshing addition to the cast (though I can’t imagine Doug Jones is very pleased that he’s been dubbed over yet again), but the comedic one-two punch of Evans and Chiklis continues to be the series’ main draw.

We also get an interesting look at the consequences of coming in contact with the Surfer that involves trading powers with those you touch. And while it certainly offers a fun twist on the original set-up, not even the promise of seeing all four abilities in action at once can save “Rise of the Silver Surfer” from being written off as yet another disappointing sequel in a summer filled with far too many of them.

Power Cosmic Edition DVD Review:
Seeing as how well “Rise of the Silver Surfer” did in theaters, FOX was bound to release a special edition DVD sooner or later, so it’s nice to see that it’s been made available on Day One. Still, unless you really love the Fantastic Four movies, there’s no reason to spend the extra cash. For those interested, however, there’s a ton of material to be found, including two audio commentaries (one with director Tim Story, and another with producer Avi Arad and writer Don Payne), a lengthy making-of featurette (“Family Bonds”), and extended/deleted scenes. Rounding out the two-disc set are a series of production featurettes on the design of the Fantasticar (“State of Art”) and the Silver Surfer (“The Power Cosmic”), the prosthetics process of becoming The Thing, the recording of the film’s score and more.

~Jason Zingale

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