Once I bought my first couple Spiderman comic books, I never went back to DC comics again. The reason was simple: I fell in love with Marvel.
40-some years later, that's still happening. Even though I never bought even one comic book about the Fantastic Four, I almost think I like the FF movies the best of all the various comic book adaptations (with the possible exception of Batman Begins.)
Of course, I would go watch paint drying if Ioan Gruffudd was the painter, but I think that's supposed to be beside the point. Or maybe it isn't. I like him, and MAYBE if he didn't play Reed Richards, I wouldn't have been so eager to see this sequel. But there he was, delightfully mussed and intense as only a geek scientist can be.
A geek hero. Fancy that.
The Fantastic Four are heroes. They don't worry about someone finding out who they really are -- they go out and drink beer and dance and shop and work. As heroes. They pay for the city property they accidentally destroy when they save the world. They tease each other about their super-powers, they deal with paparazzi. They have character flaws, and inner strengths. They are heroes, and people, too. I wouldn't mind having them as neighbors ... as long as they lived a few houses down the street so that Doctor Doom wasn't always blowing up my yard in collateral damage.
Yeah, Doom. The Doom is back, and he's just as annoying as ever. I think my favorite scene in the movie was seeing the Silver Surfer knock Dr. Doom into next week. I refrained from shouting "YEE-haw!" (But really, Doom just asks for it, all over the place.)
And oh, that Silver Surfer. Nice form on the board, dood. Great voice, I loved the voice of the Silver Surfer, though I didn't recognize it. Laurence Fishburne did a great job of speaking with unimpassioned inflection; I've heard it's possible to "act" with your voice, but you don't see -- or hear, I should say -- that done very often these days.
Fairly obvious by now is that I liked the movie. I munched my popcorn and let myself fall into the story. I had FUN watching this movie, and that was what I wanted to view. Fun. Not great angst. Fun. Villains are vanquished, heroes prevail, nobody puked, crapped, pissed, or was disemboweled graphically. I appreciate that when I go to see a Popcorn Movie.
Should you go see 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer? Well, only if you like the comic books and hearing Ben Grimm shout, "It's clobberin' time!" If you're looking for an analysis of incidents of depression in clinical studies of superheroes, then save your money and stay home and eat dry wheat toast with a glass of water. You don't want to have fun giggling and seeing superheroes doing what they do best: saving the world from arch-villains.
And incidentally, the audience applauded at the end.
I've got a theory. (Everybody rolls their eyes.) No, seriously, I have a theory, and it relates to Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. I theorize that the wave of interest in comic book movies has crested. You can tell because the critics and the public are getting a bit jaded. I was reading over the reviews of this movie, and by and large, they were not complimentary. In fact some were downright rude. And that's my point. Silver Surfer is not a bad movie at all. It has a decent story, it has some great action sequences, it has gobs of special effects that may not be anything novel, but they are employed well and further the telling of the story. The dialogue is a little weak in places, and there are no powerhouse performances in the cast, but it all hangs together enough to be fun.
In fact, if this movie had come out ten years ago, it would have been considered remarkably good. But we've done the new Batman, Spiderman and Superman films, and we've done the X-men, the Hulk and Ghost Rider, and I think everybody is just getting a little full. As you know, I can watch these kinds of films every day of the week and not get tired of them, but I realize that not everybody is like that. In fact, I sense a restlessness in the general movie-going population that hints that we're looking for a new thrill, a new obsession in movies. Maybe comedies? Maybe it's time to scare the crap out of ourselves again? Maybe somebody out there is brewing up a whole new series of lesbian gun slinger westerns that will just catch fire and have us all crowding into the theaters in breathless anticipation.
So, was Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer any good? It was as good as Gone With the Wind was, if Mae West had been cast as Scarlett. ("Is that Atlanta you're burning, or are you just glad to see me?) It was better than all the Planet of the Apes movies, even if it lacked the social relevance that monkey lust brought to that series. It was far better than Gangs of New York, although that might have been the better movie if Ben Grimm had been cast in the Leonardo DiCaprio role and Mae West had filled in for Cameron Diaz ("When I good, I'm very, very good, but when I'm bad, I co-star with DiCaprio.")
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a fun movie and worth the price of admission.