Movie News & Reviews

'The Rise' and fall of Fantastic Four's sequel

Show of hands: who knows anyone who liked the first "Fantastic Four"?

Using my eerie internet powers, I just saw that no hands were raised anywhere on earth. Teachers' questions went unanswered and dangerous missions behind enemy lines went un-volunteered-for around the globe as every hand owned by man, woman or child simultaneously shot down.

Yet somehow, "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" was still made, a sequel so uninteresting that when I got to the movie ticket booth, I'd completely forgotten what I came to see, leaving me babbling at the ticket guy until he said "I didn't understand what you just said." Then I requested a ticket for a showing that didn't exist. Excellent times.

After my spectacular failure to complete an everyday transaction, pretty much anything on the screen would be a step up, so I was pleasantly surprised when "FF2" kicked off with an exploding planet that legitimately looked like something out of a comic book.

Then the Silver Surfer showed up and made it snow on the pyramids and also some other neat things! Perhaps there was hope for the little sequel no one wanted.

But then came the other stuff. Like the Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba) and Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd) wanting to finally get married. The Fantastic Four's enormous celebrity has already disrupted their wedding a bunch of times, and when an inconsiderate Surfer-created disaster wrecks things up again, Alba's pushed over the edge.

Is it so inconceivable that a supergenius who can stretch out like putty and a supermodel who can turn invisible should lead an average life and raise a normal family? Is that so much to ask?

Then what? Oh right, there are some hijinks from the Thing (Michael Chiklis) and the Human Torch (Chris Evans), some drama about breaking the team up so the couple can go do the family thing in peace, shameless quantities of corporate logos, and the return of Victor Von Doom for some reason as the team unravels the mystery of the Silver Surfer and the planet-devouring Galactus. Objects explode, people chase other people around the planet, and in the end there's an epic confrontation and a happy resolution.

"FF2" doesn't suck in the traditional sense of being stupid or excruciating, it sucks in the sense the whole thing feels like a hollow sham. Alba's acting is so robotic it may as well be delivered in binary, though it doesn't help that her character is one of those spoilsport women who make marriage look like being locked in a dark closet with nothing but the chapter from "Moby Dick" where all he does is talk about whale physiology.

For all their talk of love, the movie's got the emotional depth of a wet-nap. And the team breaking up -- big deal. There's like one scene where they're all in costume doing battle. The rest of the time they're off talking about how rotten it is to be famous or inventing anti-Silver Surfer weapons in under three hours. Riveting.

In the misguided interests of fairness, the movie's not a total clunker. It has some decent jokes about being a superhero. Chiklis and Evans have moments of mild entertainment. And writing fun and/or meaningful scripts may be hard, but at least CG's pretty rocking these days. Really, the movie does look great.

Big fat who cares to that, though. "FF2" isn't by any means the worst movie I've ever seen, it's just one of the least interesting. Its PG rating and 90-minute runtime ensured there were a lot of kids in the theater, though, so here's looking forward to "Fantastic Four 3: Return of the Disappointment" in 2009.

Grade: C