Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer

I really don't ever want to be a superhero with a super power. It just seems like too much pressure with all those whiny people asking for help. Honestly, if I had a power, like being invisible, I think I’d wind up invisibly sitting on my couch watching movies and eating transparent foods like Chevy Chase did in Memoirs of an Invisible Man. And, I’d occasionally run from the federal agents that were chasing me. See, nothing but problems having super powers. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer reunites us with the dynamic foursome as the “Invisible Woman” Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) and “Mr. Fantastic” Dr. Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffud) are about to be married. Richards is still a nerdy workaholic and Sue is still a worry-wart who wears her emotions on her sleeve. “The Human Torch” Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) is still living life in the fast lane and acting like an immature, famed rock star, while cracking jokes at the expense of his big orange friend, Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis).

Everything is going smoothly until a mysterious alien called the Silver Surfer (voiced by Laurence Fishburne) crashes the wedding of the century, and heralds Earth’s impending doom at the hands the destroyer, Galactus, a big black cloud that eats planets. With time running out, the Fantastic Four reluctantly team up with arch nemesis, Dr. Victor von Doom (Julian McMahon), in an effort to save the planet.

If it sounds like there is a coherent story then I am already a better writer than the screenwriters for Rise of the Silver Surfer, because this story has holes as big as the craters left behind by the Silver Surfer. It’s unfortunate that adults will sit through this with their children, or because they’re bored, because the film is created for someone without much brain capacity. Every time the story starts to give a reason for everything that’s going on, something flies across the screen to divert your attention. It feels like director Tim Story (it’s ironic that his last name is the one thing the movie lacked) has attention deficit disorder, and he decides to take out the important parts and replace them with something shiny because he likes shiny things, especially when they fly – and he claps ever so enthusiastically when they fly around.

On top of that, every time the action seems to get good, it comes to a screeching halt, and then we’re back to being bored with Richards’ scientific diatribes, Storm’s worries about the wedding and leading a normal life, or someone else’s issue with the world. It’s amazing that it takes two people to adapt a story and write a screenplay, yet they still can’t come up with a complete story for a big budget Hollywood movie. Also, what is with these comic book franchises suddenly having their main characters dance? First it happens in Spider-Man 3 with Peter Parker, and now Rise of the Silver Surfer with Reed Richards during his bachelor party. Is this the only way to show there is a soft or fun side to a nerdy character? Or is it just another way to show that dorky white men have no rhythm?

The movie does have a few bright spots, besides the scenes where the sun is out. The Silver Surfer looks really great, despite cartoon-like effects throughout the film. The scenes with the Silver Surfer are the best part about this film, but I wish someone would tell Laurence Fishburne that it’s time to get out of The Matrix and show his face in a film. There is some humor, and the movie does try to take itself lightly, but the jokes are corny and not funny. I also find it odd that characters are cracking jokes during moments where Earth’s very existence is at danger.

Chiklis and Evans display a solid rapport as their scenes together are playful and, often, fun to watch. Evans is definitely the one true bright spot to this movie because he is truly the only character that seems to have evolved in any way, shape or form, despite his constant need for attention from his fans. You can tell Evans has fun with his character, whether he’s passing his powers to someone else, giving an emotional speech, or pulling out a NASCAR-like Fantastic Four jumpsuit. McMahon also plays a good villain, because his voice and his look are perfect. It’s just a shame that his actions are predictable from the second he shows up.

Alba, on the other hand, may have a great body, but her body of work is quite terrible. Did anyone see Honey or Into the Blue? If you did, you’d see her running, or dancing, in tiny bikini or very tight, revealing clothing. Sound familiar? I think that describes every role she’s ever had, dating back to Camp Nowhere. Is that all she can do: look pretty for the camera and hope the other actors don’t suck as much as she does? While she is absolutely drop dead gorgeous, she doesn’t seem to be so great at showing any range of emotion outside of happy, sad and “Hey, where’d that bus come from?” Her range as an actress is equal to that of a Pez dispenser – she can open and close her mouth, spit out crap that will rot your teeth, yet still look cuter than any of the candies displayed next to her.

Rise of the Silver Surfer is not all that much fun, nor completely action-packed. It is worse than the first movie, which I actually enjoyed despite its critical panning. It is executed fairly well, as the movie is in focus and the effects are mildly entertaining. But, this is not a smart or sophisticated comic book movie. It is a fairly dull and predictable movie with good morals. While it may not be a total disaster, it’s far from fantastic. There is nothing wrong with studios coming out with various DVD editions of their movies, especially when they’re celebrating a special anniversary or have compiled new footage that fans of the film may like to see. Sometimes you wish the studio would put everything together at once, or at least warn you that a special edition is on its way, so you can save your money for the bigger, better edition.

Sometimes, however, you get that one special studio that decides to release more than one edition in one day, which is exactly what has happened with Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. They have released two different editions – three, if you count the Blu-Ray disc as a separate edition (which it should be, considering it has more bonus material than the two-disc "Power Cosmic Edition" and the other edition that you can almost hear screaming, “Hey, the size of your special features doesn’t matter”).

To me, releasing different editions on the same day seems counter-productive, as well as something that could potentially anger fans of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. All you need is a few fans buying the pretty blue box and realizing that all they have is the movie and two different commentaries, when they could have had a black box that comes with an extra disc. Chances are, if you’re a fan of the movie and you bought the blue box, you are going to be ticked off when you find out what you could have for just a few more dollars. It’s like being 21 and getting stuck at the kid’s table next to your 6-year-old cousin during Thanksgiving dinner. You’re sitting there with a sippy-cup filled with grape juice, while your relatives are at the table next to you getting hammered.

The adult table is, of course, the two-disc "Power Cosmic Edition", which contains both commentaries, extended and deleted scenes with an optional commentary from Tim Story and a documentary called “Family Bonds: The Making of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer”. The two-disc edition also has eight other features, including features on the comic book origins of the Silver Surfer, a behind the scenes look at how characters were designed, and two different features on the FantastiCar, as well as the theatrical trailers and still galleries. Hey, the movie might not be that great, but at this point you’re at the adult table getting hammered and have plenty to do, so it really doesn’t matter.

There is one more option, however, and it’s for the Blu-Ray collectors. If you switched to the Blu-Ray technology, and you decide to purchase Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, not only will you get the commentaries from the kid’s table and all the good stuff from the adult table, but you’ll get some after dinner fun with some trivia questions (to test if you really understood what was going on) and a multi-player strategy game. It’s a nice option to have, but it’s not something that everyone has at the moment.

If you’re going to rent the movie, chances are you will be stuck at the kid’s table with your grape juice and 6-year-old cousin drawing flowers on your head with magic marker. It’s a bad place to be, especially when there is more fun could be had elsewhere. The only decision you have to come to now is whether any of these options are something you really want to burden yourself with after seeing the movie. In my case, I wouldn’t bother, unless the studio comes out with a new edition that doesn't have the movie on it and just guarantees a visit from Jessica Alba. Since that is never going to happen, I’m not going to be going anywhere near this movie, not even if the studio paid me. However, for those of you who are fans of the .Fantastic Four franchise, choose the edition that suits you best, but make sure you have a good cry when you get, because regardless, you have just bought Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.