Monday, May 12, 2008

The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

I never paid much attention to the Fantastic Four comic book series. Although I was a fan of the DC comic book heroes, Stan Lee's Marvel Comics creations did not catch my interest. I came to the films based on the series with no particular expectations. The films seem fairly literal in their adherence to the Fantastic Four characters and storylines, and they offer narratives that don't delve deeply into the inner workings of the main characters (unlike the Spiderman films).

In The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), a silver figure riding what appears to be a silver surfboard arrives on the earth and begins boring larger craters into the ground. Astronomical data reveals that every planet the surfer has visited explodes or otherwise dies within eight days of his appearance. It turns out that the surfer is a kind of scout or sentinel for a much larger cloud-like alien entity called Galactus—he scouts out the planets that Galactus later destroys. Galactus lives off the energy that the planets provide. The Fantastic Four have to defeat Galactus and save the earth.

This film never allows one to think that he is watching anything more that a basic rendition of the comic book. It never rises to the level of comic book myth, as the Batman and Superman stories often do. It's simply a matter of the four fantastic characters showing off their super skills, suffering occasional setbacks, dealing with petty day-to-day crises, and ultimately overcoming their adversaries. The special effects would probably excite a 10-year-old, but they did little for me. They're rendered as if this is an animated film. The four main characters themselves are vapid, stereotypical cut-outs.

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