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Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer (***)
directed by Tim Story
written by Don Payne, Mark Frost, and John Truman, based on a comic book by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Principal Cast
Ioan Gruffudd -- Reed Richards
Jessica Alba -- Sue Storm
Chris Evans -- Johnny Storm
Michael Chiklis -- Ben Grimm
Julian McMahon -- Victor Von Doom
Kerry Washington -- Alicia Masters
Andre Braugher -- General Hager
Laurence Fishburne -- The Silver Surfer (voice)
Doug Jones -- The Silver Surfer
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer is a fun film. It isn't a great film -- it doesn't pretend to be. Unlike some Summer films, it does not try too hard and wind up deeply flawed. Instead, it aims at the same brand of lighthearted entertainment found in the Jack Kirby and Stan Lee comic books, and hits the mark.

I went into the movie with a chip on my shoulder, because I knew that the film Galactus was not going to be Jack Kirby's Galactus. Braced for that disappointment, I enjoyed the film vision. The Kirby version, while I would have loved to see them try it, would be an almost impossible special effect to bring off. In a comic book, especially with Jack Kirby's famous forced perspective, you could have a character larger than a skyscraper interact with humans. That would be hard to do on film.

The plot and especially the characterization are true to the comic book, with a little extra polish. The plot is taken primarily from Fantastic Four #48, 49, and 50, which some consider the greatest superhero comic books of all time. (You can read them in the Marvel Masterpiece collection.) But there are also elements from FF #3, #10, and other issues. Certainly, the writers of the film steeped themselves in Fantastic Four lore, and qualify for the "no prize" awarded true believers. The opening few seconds of the film, in particular, are pure Jack Kirby.

The special effects are excellent. You've all seen the extended Torch/Surfer chase scene in the previews. The Thing looks much better than in the first movie. Sue Storm's powers are handled very well. In the comic book, Sue was occasionally in the unenviable position of Aquaman in the Justice League. The writers would need to come up with a really contrived situation to give a relatively weak character something to do. Not so in the movie, where Sue is easily the equal of her teammates.

As with the first Fantastic Four film, the credit cookie is only a few seconds into the credits.

Copyright © 2007 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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