A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 102 – Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer – June 10th, 2010

Some time after the first movie we return to our heroes just in time for Sue and Reed’s wedding! Oh wait, of course we can’t just have a wedding. We need a crisis! Wait, no crisis, wedding! No, crisis! Obviously there’s a crisis, and it’s in the form of a mysterious comet-like thing that buzzes Earth, causing weird weather and electrical disturbances wherever it goes. The US military’s freaked out by it and interrupts Reed’s awkwardly special-effect laden bachelor party to try and get him to help, but he’s GETTING MARRIED! Yes, he turns down a project that has global importance, that could help stop something that’s giving off the same sort of radiation that gave our heroes their powers, because Sue will kick his ass if he postpones the wedding (of course he ends up taking the job anyhow and just doesn’t tell Sue, which is such a brilliant idea!).

Okay, an aside. I remember the stress of planning a wedding and it totally consumes your life and turns your brain into mush. At least, it did to me. So fine, I get it. She’s sick of postponements. I would be too. But when the government sends the military to your bachelor party to tell you about something that solidified a bay in Japan and made it snow on the pyramids at Giza and is making gigantic craters like that sinkhole in Guatemala only bigger? That’s a good reason to put off the nuptials. Or at least have a quiet and quick civil ceremony to get the legalities out of the way and save the matrimonial circus for later. It’s just weird to me. Sue’s worried about their lives being normal (or not, as the case may be), and that makes sense and all. But given the severity of the problem at hand, it makes her look petty. And then Reed lying to her pushes a personal button of mine. It’s played for both drama and humor and I don’t know, I find it lacking in both. Again, I want to shake everyone involved.

So right, Silver Surfer. Dude shows up from space to scout for planets for some other power to destroy and proceeds to make big holes all over the place and kick the butts of all four of our heroes. A one-on-one encounter with Johnny leaves Johnny with the bizarre ability to swap powers with the others. Then another encounter with Von Doom leaves Von Doom all healed up and pretty again, and hell bent on revenge on both the Fantastic Four and the Surfer. And then the military asks for Von Doom’s help and don’t keep him fucking locked up when he’s not working. Yeah, that’ll go well, obviously.

The team helps the military catch the Surfer but then the military locks them up while they torture him for answers or just because it’s fun, whatever. Von Doom asks to play with the surfboard as payment for his help, since the surfboard is the actual source of power, but turns out it’s also the beacon that draws the big planet destroying power (Galactus, aka hey, it’s the antithesis of life from Fifth Element!) and of course he betrays the military and takes the board. The Surfer himself isn’t so bad, he’s just a tool. So then they have to go get Von Doom before Galactus shows up. Why do people keep trusting the guy with DOOM in his name? I’m just boggled by this.

Of course there’s a climactic chase and fight sequence and that’s fun and all. I do like the fight. It’s fun and has some great effects and Galactus is nicely menacing and the jet thing Reed’s got is pretty fucking cool. I’ve got to say I do like the whole thing with Johnny’s character development. I like how it’s done and how he remains a fun character regardless of the serious thread he’s given. And I like the resolution to their problem with Von Doom, even if I don’t like how ridiculous it is that he was trusted in the first place. The end of Galactus is a wee bit unbelievable, but you’ve got to suspend your disbelief in a movie like this anyhow so that’s not so big a deal for me. What bugs me about this movie is the beginning and how back and forth and petty and goofy it seems. Especially in light of the 180 turnaround at the end. It’s just a weird and uneven juxtaposition of the two moods. Once the team gets moving on the main plot aside from Von Doom’s involvement I’m totally on board. But prior to that? I had to wonder if this would get the “it stinks!” tag. It doesn’t, but if you’re going to watch it, consider skipping a large chunk of the beginning. You won’t miss much more than Reed’s rubber man dance party.

June 10, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

June 10, 2010

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

We’re back today in the world of the Fantastic Four. And everybody from yesterday’s movie makes a return in this one. The rubbery Mister Fantastic, the flaming (but not that way) Human Torch, the rocky Thing and the improbably skin toned Invisible Woman. Even Doctor Doom comes back for a little more fun. But added to the mix is one of the strangest characters ever added to the Marvel universe: The Silver Surfer.

This movie is simultaneously darker and more apocalyptic and also sillier and more slap stick than the first Fantastic Four movie. The plot revolves around a planet eating organism that is coming to destroy the Earth and extinguish all life, but before we can get to that there’s a whole lot of comic relief to get out of the way.

The movie starts by establishing that Reed and Sue are trying to have this big celebrity wedding, but Reed keeps getting distracted by science stuff. (And there’s a pointless and painfully unfunny scene where Johnny connives Reed into going to a bachelor party. It involves some truly nightmare-inducing “dancing” by the rubber-powered Reed.) When a mysterious comet like phenomena comes to Earth, causing bizarre atmospheric disturbances and giant craters, Reed promises he will not let it derail their wedding, but still secretly builds a big cosmic ray detector behind Sue’s back to try and pinpoint the source of the problem for the government. Naturally the Silver Surfer eventually crashes the big wedding ceremony leading to a cool mostly-CG chase scene between the Surfer and Johnny.

*Sigh.* I’m just not into this review today. On my first viewing of this movie I remember thinking that it was a little more watchable than the first one. That letting the Fantastic Four do their thing unfettered by all the “discovering their powers” stuff from the origin story in the first movie made for a faster-paced and more action filled romp. But watching it again tonight I just feel like it’s too stupid to really be enjoyable. There are a number of consecutive plot contrivances, and the Surfer’s powers are so ill-defined that really anything at all could happen, which means that nothing you watch has any plausibility or impact.

Some things the Surfer does (often for no particular reason): Freeze a bay in Japan. Make it snow on the Pyramids at Giza. Alter Johnny’s genetic make up so that he can accidentally swap powers with any of the other Fantastic Four by touching them. Reanimate Doctor Doom. Shoot Doom with an energy bolt that removes his disfiguring scarring and makes him appear human again, but for some reason leaves his electric manipulation powers intact. Absorb a missile into his surf board. Warp through buildings and buses. And so on.

Eventually (after much technobable and plot exposition) it is explained that the Surfer is working as a harbinger for the planet eating entity Galactus (who is here portrayed as a sort of dust cloud with planet sized tentacles, and not as a giant guy with a purple cape and big silly hat. Probably one of the more sane moments in the film maker’s decision making process.) Of course by the time that the Surfer has revealed that he’s not all evil and is working under duress in an attempt to save his own planet he’s lost his magic surfboard and Doom has got it.

All of this kind of makes sense as build up for a big action-adventure comic book movie, but then it doesn’t seem to know where to go with it. The Fantastic Four have a final slug-out with Doom and his black surfboard and use an earlier plot contrivance to quickly defeat him – and the movie is suddenly over. Really it does feel that quick. There’s about eighty minutes of build up to this climactic battle between the Fantastic Four and a souped up invincible Doctor Doom, and then it’s over in less than ten minutes. The Deus Ex Surfboardia regains his power and quickly solves everything else, wrapping it all up in a nice bow. I feel let down.

Everything in the first movie that was endearing and entertaining is overblown and irritating in this one. For every one slightly disturbing gag that involved Reed stretching improbably in the first movie there’s ten much more disturbing ones in this movie. (Really – that dance sequence – I can’t scrub it from my mind. It’s simultaneously insipid and horrifying.) Johnny’s constant banter, which was kind of fun yesterday, is just annoying tonight. The whole wedding plot makes Sue into more of a shrew and less of a super hero. Even Grimm’s laconic Hellboyish wit get unfunny after a while. (Really? The bit with the bear? Why?)

I can think of two possible explanations for my mental state. First – this might just be a bad movie. My initial impression of it was wrong and everything abut it is actually ans annoying as I felt like it was today. Or second – I’m just in a crappy mood today. I honestly can’t tell you which it is.

June 10, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment