Sunday, 17 June 2007

Film Review: Rise Of The Silver Surfer

A nude scene with Jessica Alba; the introduction of Galactus; the marvellous Michael Chiklis reprising his role as The Thing; the first big screen appearance of The Silver Surfer; and the resurrection of Dr Doom. Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer should be the best comic book film of all time.

It isn’t.

However, that’s not to say it’s as awful as the first film. Not much could be. For a start, The Silver Surfer is a bad ass. Doug Jones’s grace and elegance ensures that the Surfer looks perfectly otherworldly. Laurence Fishburne’s voice, however – not quite at his Morpheus worst, but close enough – makes you wish the casting team had given him the blue pill and told him to fuck off.

Elsewhere, the Ben Grimm / Johnny Storm duelling is spot-on and Ioan Gruffudd appears much more relaxed as Reed Richards than he did in the first film. Letting the group down, though, is Susan Storm. Two years on from Sin City and still nobody can induce boredom and boners with the same conviction as Jessica Alba.

It’s fair to say that Alba is slightly less execrable than in FF1, which is certainly more than can be said for Julian McMahon. He might play a good plastic surgeon on a cable TV show, but he fucking blows as Dr Doom. If there’s to be a third film, I can only hope they leave the mask on and hire in a new actor.

Although, given the shabby treatment that Doom received in both movies, perhaps McMahon is the perfect man to play him. Far from one of the planet’s most intelligent men, with an army of Doombots at his disposal and significant powers of sorcery, Doom is eliminated from this film’s proceedings by a crane. Whilst it’s a step up from the fire hydrant that brought about his demise in the first film, it’s still a pathetic ending for one of the Marvel universe’s most deadly villains.

This being a 2007 Marvel film, Rise Of The Silver Surfer, of course, has its own dance scene. If Spider-Man 3’s dance scene was like being stabbed in the balls, then Rise Of The Silver Surfer’s is like being kicked in them: unpleasant and agonising, but at least the pain subsides.

The biggest problem fanboys will have with the movie is that the audience never gets to see Galactus. It’s a shame, because, ever since The Day After Tomorrow, it’s hard for an audience to feel threatened by a cloud formation. But, considering they can’t even get Sue Storm’s blue eyes right, we should probably be grateful that the special effects guys didn’t attempt the planet eater in all his purple helmeted glory.

At times it feels like an extended trailer for the almost-certainly-in-develo
pment Silver Surfer solo film. What should curb anyone’s enthusiasm about such a project is this movie’s concluding revelation that the Surfer could have halted Galactus at any point in his destruction of eight planets.

But, as sympathetic accounts of an accomplice in the greatest serial genocide in movie history go, Rise Of The Silver Surfer isn’t all that bad.

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