4: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Tagged: Film

Film (2007). Twentieth Century Fox in association with Constantin Films and Marvel Studios presents a 1492 Entertainment/Bernd Eichinger production. Directed by Tim Story. Written by Don Payne and Mark Frost; story by John Turman and Frost, based on the Marvel Comic by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Cast includes Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, Chris Evans, Laurence Fishburne, Ioan Gruffudd, Doug Jones and Julian McMahon. 92 minutes. Colour.

Three classic sixties Lee/Kirby storylines were combined for this sequel to Fantastic Four (2005): the wedding of Reed Richards (Gruffudd) and Sue Storm (Alba); Doctor Doom's theft of the powers of the Silver Surfer (Jones, voiced by Fishburne); and the threat to Earth from the cosmic predator Galactus, possibly the single most thrilling sf moment in silver-age comics. Of the Marvel films to date this was the first to venture, albeit tentatively, into the deep-space baroque in which Kirby's sixties work excelled; the film opens with an arresting sequence of End of the World planetary destruction that is closer to Melancholia (2011) than to anything yet seen in Comics cinema, and the Silver Surfer himself (quite the silliest of Kirby's enduring creations) is exhilaratingly realized as an enigmatic living bolide, though Galactus himself is controversially deanthropomorphized. But the film struggles to harmonize its aspirations to cosmic exhilaration with the frothy, comedic, family-oriented skew of its predecessor, and the radically disparate storylines trip over one another's feet, not helped by a fatuous additional comedy complication under which the quartet exchange powers. Fox would cool on the franchise after this instalment, and would in due course choose to reboot the series afresh in 2015. The novelization is Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) by Daniel Josephs. [NL]

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