© 2007 Ray Wong
A surfer from outer space that looks like a life-size silver Oscars statue? Simply judging from the premise, we know we can't take this Fantastic Four sequel too seriously. And we shouldn't. Compared to more "serious" comic-book movies such as Spider-Man or X-Men, Fantastic Four has always been pure camp and fun, and this installment is no exception.
Dr. Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), aka Mr. Fantastic, and Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) are getting married. Unfortunately, their nuptial continues to get postponed because of their responsibilities (and celebrity) as part of the Fantastic Four. But this time, Reed is determined to make Sue happy by sticking to the wedding plans, even though he's still obsessed with his research. On the other hand, Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) is still playing the field, as Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) settles down with Alicia (Kerry Washington).
A mysterious meteorite-like object flies over the globe, creating unnatural phenomena and large craters in various parts of the world. A military operation, headed by General Hager (Andre Braugher), demands the Fantastic Four to give them some answers. Soon they find out the object is actually a silver alien (voiced by Lawrence Fishburne, acted by Doug Jones) riding on a silver surfboard, and he's here to destroy Earth. To capture the Silver Surfer, the military enlists Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon), who mysteriously reappears. Of course, Victor has his own agenda, and the Fantastic Four discover that it may very well be too late to save the world.
As the Fantastic Four, Ioan Gruffudd (Amazing Grace), Jessica Alba (Sin City), Chris Evans (The Nanny Diaries), and Michael Chiklis (The Shield) reprise their respective roles with good chemistry and energy. Their performances are generally broad and two-dimensional, which serve the genre well. Julian McMahon (Premonition) also reprises his role as Victor Von Doom, the F4's ambitious archenemy. Unfortunately, McMahon is either hidden under a large, dark hood, or reduced to a few stock sinister expressions.
Kerry Washington (I Think I Love My Wife) is sweet as Ben's love interest, but she really doesn't have much to do. Andre Braugher (Poseidon) is brash and commanding as General Hager -- his performance is rather one note. Doug Jones (Lady in the Water) acts as the model for the CG character Silver Surfer, while Lawrence Fishburne (TMNT) lends his deep, soulful voice. Ironically, it's the CG character that provides the most interesting performance in the ensemble production.
The screenplay by Don Payne (My Super Ex-Girlfriend) and Mark Frost (The Greatest Game Ever Played) manages to keep the light, fluffy, tongue-in-cheek tone of the franchise. Truth be told, the story is rather juvenile, even for comic books. The dialogue is campy, and the plot unfolds without much suspense -- it's entirely predictable. And don't expect any character depths and grand themes either. To their credits, the writers do maintain a high octane level of entertainment value. It's never really dull, even if we've seen the show many times before. Much credit goes to the likeability and chemistry of the cast.
Director Tim Story (Taxi) does an adequate job in keeping the pace fast and the tone light. The action sequences are well choreographed, albeit pedestrian. The plot takes us all over the world, but interestingly it seems like all major events only happen at well-known places with monuments (Mt. Fuji, the London Eye, the Great Wall of China, the Washington Monument, to name a few). Truly this film is aimed at the lower common denominator -- there's really nothing wrong with that. It's just difficult to take this movie seriously, even by comic book standards.
There's enough humor and action to entertain us. But with is juvenile plot, cheesy dialogue, and mediocre special effects, the movie is far from being fantastic.
Stars: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington, Andre Braugher, Lawrence Fishburne, Doug Jones, Beau Garrett
Director: Tim Story
Writers: Don Payne, Mark Frost, John Turman
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
MPAA Rating: PG for sequences of action violence, some mild language and innuendo
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Script – 6
Performance – 6
Direction – 6
Cinematography – 7
Editing – 7
Production – 7
Total – 6.5 out of 10