Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
is another entertaining romp for the Marvel-superhero franchise. Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd), is treading on thin ice when his fiancée, Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba), thinks he's more interested in a series of cosmic phenomena occurring around the earth than in the preparations for their upcoming wedding. Sorry, ladies, but Reed is right. The disturbances are caused by a surge of cosmic power from a mysterious being called the Silver Surfer (an all-CGI creation, modeled by Doug Jones and voiced by Laurence Fishburne), who not only zooms around the skies on his board, but also has enough power to fight the FF, sometimes by turning their own power against them, not only mixing up Sue and Reed, but also Johnny Storm, the Human Torch (Chris Evans), and Ben Grimm, the Thing (Michael Chiklis). But that's not the worst of it. The Surfer is only an opening act, a herald looking for planets that his master, Galactus, can consume for his sustenance.
With its initial installment, Fantastic Four established itself as the superhero franchise that didn't take itself too seriously, and that continues here. There are numerous moments of laugh-out-loud humor, and the most angst they suffer is whether Sue and Reed will ever be able to live a normal family life. (That, and whether they'll ever really get married, of course.) If Fantastic Four were a normal superhero franchise, the ending would be a knock-down drag-out war with Galactus, featuring the FF in a colossal battle for the planet Earth and the lives of everyone on it. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer just doesn't do that, and we don't quite get the payoff we expected. Effects are dazzling, but the Surfer looks too metallic, more like a skyriding T-1000 robot. --David Horiuchi
On the DVD
Are you getting tired of big movies initially coming out on substandard DVDs only to be released in better versions later? No such worries with the Power Cosmic Edition of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, which delivers the goods. The double-sided disc 1 has both widescreen and full-screen editions of the movie, with two commentary tracks. On the first, director Tim Story talks about FF inside jokes and what had to be cut out of the movie. The second combines producer Avi Arad (has anyone recorded more superhero DVD commentaries?), screenwriter Don Payne, and editors Peter S. Elliot and William Hoy (only the last two sound like they were actually in the room at the same time) covering some of the same ground: comic-book references, special effects, etc. On disc 2 are five extended/deleted scenes (almost 10 minutes total) with commentary by Story, including a longer title sequence and some comic relief. "Family Bonds" is a 46-minute "fly on the wall" documentary that follows the crew as they scout locations, test early special effects, and then work with the cast. There's a multi-angle look at the Fantasticar and five featurettes (some of which are more substantial than you'd expect for that term). Topics include the development of the Fantasticar (10 minutes), the Surfer effects (15 minutes), the history of the Surfer in comic books (39 minutes, with interviews of Stan Lee, Jim Starlin, and Ron Marz, and Lee describes himself as his own biggest fan!), the Thing suit (11 minutes), and the music score (four minutes). --David Horiuchi
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer Extras Beyond Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
View exclusive clips (including interviews with Fantastic Four Creator Stan Lee and Screenwriter Don Payne), download AIM icons and wallpapers and browse the extensive photo gallery at our Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer minisite.
More of the Four on DVD Stills from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer