Rise of the Silver Surfer is the perfect summer movie, that is if you're eight years old or under. For the rest of us, the sequel to the first Fantastic Four that miraculously amassed more than $150 million in 2005, is a plotless, brainless, witless bore. It's not egregiously awful like the first film. Just plain awful in that formula way that kills your spirit and all hope for summer movies.
This time the Fan Four — if you need their origin stories just Google them for pity's sake — are out to stop the evil Galactus from destroying the Earth. Jeez, aren't they always? The Silver Surfer is the new wrinkle — he's sent by Galactus to give Earth a head's up. Go figure. There are two sleek, shiny special effects: Jessica Alba falling off a building naked (OK, you don't see much, the flick is rated PG) and the Silver Surfer himself — the computers designed him as the coolest surfing trophy ever. The rest goes quickly to rust. With all due apologies to the Marvel Comic that ted in the 1960s, the Four hardly cut it as Fantastic onscreen.
Let me ask you: what is there about these F4 flicks that turns good actors into rank amateurs. Take Ioan Gruffudd, the Welsh newcomer who was so impressive this year in Amazing Grace. He's stiff as the Surfer's board in the role of Reed Richards — Mr. Fantastic to you — the workaholic brainiac who can stretch anything except his talent. Even on his wedding day to Sue Storm (that's Alba) — The Invisible Woman to you — he's more into designing the Fantasticar. Talk about your eight-year-old mentality. Alba, who has one playful scene in which she makes a zit on her forehead invisible, has more chemistry with Chris Evans as The Human Torch, which is a little creepy since Evans (named the third hottest body of the year on Gay.com) plays Sue's brother Johnny Storm. That leaves Michael Chiklis — Emmy winner for The Shield — to play a brick wall named Ben Grimm. Everyone calls him The Thing. I call it stupid to bury an actor with Chiklis's chops in brick latex. Kerry Washington is back as the blind sculptress who has a thing for The Thing. And so is Nip/Tuck's Julian McMahon as the dastardly Doctor Doom.
But it's hard to imagine you or anyone out of grade school giving a damn about the lame shenanigans director Tim Story keeps throwing at the screen in the hope that something will stick. In truth, one line from the Surfer (voiced by Laurence Fishburne, no less) has stayed with me. "Remember you have a choice," his silver tongue intones. If you get the choice to see Rise of the Silver Surfer, by all means choose to stay home.