Thursday, June 21, 2007

Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer


FANTASTIC 4: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER
Directed by Tim Story
Stars Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington, Andre Braugher, Laurence Fishburne, Doug Jones
PG - sequences of action violence, some mild language and innuendo


Confession time: I never saw the original Fantastic 4 movie. It was one of those movies I just wrote off as a waste of my time. Sometimes bad reviews are fun to write, but sometimes there are movies I just can’t bring myself to sit down and watch. And Fantastic 4 was one of those movies.

But since its sequel, Rise of the Silver Surfer, was the highest profile new release last weekend, I was left with little choice. Admittedly, I found the trailers interesting. However, now that I have seen the film, I realize that my initial impression was correct.

Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a waste of time and celluloid.

After gaining their powers and vanquishing the evil Dr. Doom in the original film, Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, and the Thing have gained a high profile and superstar status as the protectors of the world. In fact, they are just trying to live as normal a life as possible as Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman are planning to get married. But their festivities are interrupted by the arrival of a mysterious new villain, the Silver Surfer, whose appearance on a planet heralds its imminent destruction.

It’s not a bad premise for a high-concept superhero flick, but Rise of the Silver Surfer is stupefyingly dull. The actors all seem bored, leaving little doubt they’re all slumming in a strictly-for-the-paycheck job. The ridiculous script doesn’t help matters either, turning the film into a big goofball Saturday morning cartoon that puts kids back to sleep. It makes Spider-Man 3 look downright credible in comparison.

There’s just no reason for the film to exist. It is little more than a shameless cash-in and excuse to sell action figures. How many more of these will Hollywood churn out before audiences shout “ENOUGH!”

Maybe I’m jaded. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies, and sat through too many mediocre sequels. Or maybe I’ve just taken too many film criticism and history courses to really enjoy a film like this, but for the life of me I can’t understand how anyone can look at this film and say “wow, that is a great movie.” Surely the studio executives had to know this. So why would they want to release something they knew was merely mediocre? Because they sell tickets and make them money.

Yes, I’ve gotten cynical about the whole process. But really, how many people who saw Rise of the Silver Surfer with me this past weekend noticed the awkward pace of the editing, the poor scene changes, the stilted dialogue, the wooden acting, or the sub-par special effects? Not too many, I expect.

The studios CAN make good films - see Knocked Up and 28 Weeks Later for some recent examples. Hell, even Casablanca was just another dime-a-dozen studio pic when it was originally released. So it isn't impossible. They just don't do it very often.

So go ahead, go see Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Every dime in the pocket of the producers merely guarantees yet another substandard sequel that will squeeze out your hard earned money, even though they know they are feeding you bologna, when they have the capability and resources to serve filet mingon.

GRADE - *½ (out of four)

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