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Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Nearly Fantastic

The sequel onslaught continues with the second Marvel Comics inspired film of the summer, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. The fantastic foursome comprised of Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd), The Human Torch (Chris Evans), The Thing (Michael Chiklis), and Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba) find themselves in quite a quandary as the enigmatic entity known as "The Silver Surfer" pays a visit to Earth in preparation for the planetís ultimate destruction at the hands of the planet hungry Galactus. Naturally, this minor wrinkle derails the imminent wedding of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman. Such is the plight of your average superhero.

The arrival of the Silver Surfer on Earth results in a whole litany of problems. Power outages, craters, weird weather disturbances, and the rejuvenation of an old nemesis are just part of the equation. The military calls upon the four to investigate these odd occurrences and, in short order, they find themselves up against the Surfer, who is nigh on omnipotent. Needless to say, things arenít looking too fantastic.

As it turns out, the Surfer is merely a "herald" for the arrival of the insatiable, planet consuming force known as Galactus. He's just sizing Earth up and prepping the planet for Galactusí arrival. One could consider the Surfer to be little more than an ass kicking, omnipotent personal chef for Galactus.

Director Tim Story does a solid job of taking these characters who on the surface should be virtually unstoppable and makes them seem quite small and vulnerable in the shadow of the Surfer, e.g. The Surfer nearly kills the Human Torch and screws with his superpowers. Above and beyond this, the four suffer from the same kinds of problems many of us face: fear of commitment, fear of being alone, and the fear of failure are but a few. Itís this vulnerability and accessibility that makes these characters as real as they can be.

That being said, none of these characters are terribly complex or compelling. Mr. Fantastic is a remarkably talented scientist, but we donít see many other sides to him aside from a brief dance sequence at a bachelor party where he lets his hair down a bit. The Invisible Woman is essentially generic eye candy with a gift for disappearing. The Thing is a gruff, occasionally funny rock covered juggernaut. The Human Torch is a media whore and a ladyís man.

The most engaging character is ultimately the Surfer (voiced by Laurence Fishburne). As the film progresses, we learn more about this enigmatic character and far from being a simple, nefarious villain, heís a somber, complex, and lonely character who is effectively a slave to a force much bigger than himself.

Despite mediocre character development and some hokey dialogue, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer rarely fails to entertain. The film has some fantastic visuals, a plethora of great action set pieces, and a wonderful villain to keep the four on their toes. Itís a solid summer action film and as long as your expectations are set accordingly, you shouldnít be too disappointed.

Additional points should be given to Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer for NOT trying to do too much. At a hair over 90 minutes, you pretty much get your moneyís worth.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars