Thursday, August 2, 2007

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

One of the biggest laughs I’ve had at the movies all summer is during the opening scenes of “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer”. On screen is shown the Sphinx and the Great Pyramids. The subtitle “Egypt” appears on the screen.

Whew! I’m so glad they spelled it out for us. We would have been completely lost otherwise.

(Of all the comic book movies out there, the FF movies are more likely targeted towards children. But I’m sure the youngest children know where the Pyramids are. Surely our educational system can’t be that bad.)

The next scene is another establishing shot of a vast metropolis and another helpful subtitle appears reading “Los Angeles, California.” Double whew! Again, I’m so glad they added what state we were in, thus avoiding confusion with all the other Los Angeles’s out there.

The new FF movie is pretty dopey. There’s too much time spent with Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) complaining about the group’s super powers and how they can never lead a normal life. These conversations turn moot with the arrival of the Silver Surfer, an intergalactic being whose arrival portends the Earth’s demise.

An irritating subplot is the Army’s requesting the help of the FF, but then turning very condescending to them. You’d think with the fate of the world at stake, everyone would cooperate more.

Director Tim Story stages the proceedings like a TV movie. It’s family friendly, and by the reaction of a lot of the little kids in the theater, its target audience had a good time. At least the film has the good sense to be over and done with in 90 minutes.

Like most musical scores today, John Ottman’s score is as memorable as last week’s meal at McDonalds.

The Silver Surfer footage is pretty amazing, though, and those sequences are a lot of fun. But the FF themselves seem curiously lacking in personality, augmented by a distinct lack of chemistry among them. With the exception of Michael Chilkis as The Thing, I’ve always thought the FF were miscast. From the first film Dr. Von Doom appears, seemingly more for a contractural obligation than anything else.

And then there’s Jessica Alba. I think she’s just too young for the role here, and doesn’t have the authority the role demands. And I was shocked at how unattractive she appears here. She’s a stunningly beautiful woman, but you would never know it by watching the new FF movie. It’s hard to explain, but she has this weird eye make-up that makes her look like a refugee from a kitschy 1950s science fiction flick like “Queen of Outer Space” or “Cat Women of the Moon”. She’s too tan and sports unattractive hair styles. The movie’s ability to make Ms. Alba unattractive may be the film’s greatest special effect.

Rating for “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer”: Two stars.

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