At the beginning of The Rise of the Silver Surfer the Fantastic Four—Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, The Thing and The Human Torch—are tabloid celebrities. They have endorsement deals, always travel in first class and their every move is followed by the press. They’re just like Paris Hilton, except that she’s in jail and they aren’t. Oh, and rather than commit crimes, they solve them, and by the end of this movie will have saved the entire world.
On the eve of the marriage between Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd) and The Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba) strange atmospheric disturbances begin to plague the earth. Seas freeze and giant craters start to pop up everywhere. Despite the trouble the superheroes decide to go ahead with the wedding as planned. Just before the “I do’s” a shiny silver man on a shiny silver surfboard whizzes by, disrupting everything, and very nearly mussing Jessica Alba’s really fake looking blonde hair.
Some scientific mumbo jumbo later it is revealed that every time the Silver Surfer buzzes a planet, it dies eight days later. Call him Mr. Global Warming.
No one likes a deadline, but the Fan 4 jump into action, with the help of the army and their former nemesis Victor Von Doom (Nip and Tuck’s Julian McMahon) who has returned from the dead and may have some crucial information to help save the world. With time counting down the Silver Surfer will, to paraphrase Brian Wilson, have fun, fun, fun until the Fan 4 take his surfboard away.
The Rise of the Silver Surfer is a vast improvement on the first movie in this franchise, 2005’s Fantastic Four, which made a lot of money (hence the sequel) but offered little in the way of good story-telling or even interesting special effects. Neither film is as smart as any of the X-Men movies, as stylish as Spider-Man 1 or 2, or even as action-packed as Batman Begins, but they do manage to capture some of the goofy fun of the comic books. Corny jokes pepper the script, and instead of taking their usual powers seriously, the superheroes seem to have fun with them. The Invisible Girl uses her magical cloaking abilities to make a zit disappear on her wedding day and Mr. Fantastic, more colloquially know as Rubber Man really struts—or should that be stretches—his stuff on the dance floor.
Teenagers and fans of the comic books should enjoy the action sequences, the bad guy, Dr. Doom, a villain so over-the-top dramatic he makes the Phantom of the Opera look like he’s auditioning for a high school glee club, the straightforward story—there’s no background info, dark sides or any of the other stuff that often make movies based on comic books a bit of a slog—and The Silver Surfer who is just flat out cool.
Too bad the acting isn’t better—we’re looking at you Alba and Grufudd—and the dialogue a little sharper. The Fantastic Four are hugely popular comic book characters, unfortunately when translated to the screen they’re not quite fantastic, just adequate.