Reviewing the Reviews: 'Rise of the Silver Surfer'

Ff_lBack in summer 2005, Fantastic Four got drubbed by critics but nonetheless scored a massive $56 million opening weekend. This weekend, its sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, attempts to keep the box-office fire alive, while perhaps reducing its dose of critical haterade. And while EW’s own Joshua Rich predicts Silver Surfer will open even stronger among ticketbuyers, a surprising number of critics around the country are liking it as well, dubbing the second installment of the Marvel Comics adaptation a vast improvement on the first. Be warned, however, that those who disliked Silver Surfer did so with epic intensity. But first, the good news!

Jack Mathews, New York Daily News: "The sequel is actually better — much better — than the original…. The story, and the characters, seem more comfortable on this outing…. The big improvements come in the action scenes."

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: "Short, cheesy and to the point, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer has the same goofy tone, the same light touch as its predecessor."

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: "The last one was awful, one of the worst movies of its year, while the new one is a pleasure, one of the most enjoyable pictures of the season. The last Fantastic Four was 106 minutes of water torture. The new one, instead of expanding in length, clocks in at a streamlined 92 minutes, but nothing about it seems truncated or small-scale."

Rick Groen, Toronto Globe and Mail: "Deliberately or not, [the original Fantastic Four] drained the pomposity right out of the fantasy, leaving behind a bathtub ring of dirty fun, the very stuff that pulp dreams are made of…. And this second coming… well, it suffers from a slight case of sequel-itis… yet on the whole, enough of its innate modesty survives to earn this damn-with-faint-praise verdict: Unlike the recent spate of blackened threequels, those bottom-of-the-bag Spideys and Shreks and Pirates and Oceans, this kernel does pop. What’s more, when munched with the liquefied margarine of your lowered expectations, it can even be digested."

addCredit(“Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer: Diyah Pera”)

Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter: "Maybe it has something to do with seriously diminished expectations, but Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is an improvement of sorts over the lifeless 2005 edition."

Jack Garner, Gannett News Service:"I’ve got a prejudice against most movies based on comic-bookadventures. With a few exceptions, they take themselves too seriously,they’re humorless, the characters are two-dimensional, the films aretoo long and the plots are alternately silly or overly convoluted….So, I’m happy to report that Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer suffers from none of those flaws (except silliness, which is hard to avoid)."

Scott Bowles, USA Today: "Like the dreadful 2005 original, this Fantasticembraces its flyweight status: It’s cheesy, short and meant more forfamilies than fanboys. But this time, director Tim Story punches up thefilm with crisp writing, inside jokes for comic devotees and, mostimportant, a nemesis worth raving about in the Silver Surfer."

And now, the bad!

Jan Stuart, Newsday: Don’t expect many acting nominations for Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.The titular weather-buster may be a CG-generated special effect, but hemanages to out-humanize all the performers around him. Ioan Gruffudd,Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis have returned for asecond go-round with their special powers intact, turning everythingthey say and touch into plastic."

Bill Muller, The Arizona Republic:"Much like the first movie based on the Marvel comic, the sequel ismired in sophomoric humor and stilted dialogue that creaks like a100-year-old staircase. The film also suffers from a terminal case ofthe stupids. It’s as though every character has suffered a sharp blowto the head."

Michael Sragow, Baltimore Sun: "What made Fantastic Foureffervescent was its amiable, satiric take on valor and catastrophe.But director Tim Story, who navigated that film to its lightheartedsuccess, loses his soft touch for the first half-hour of Rise of the Silver Surfer."

Stephen Hunter, Washington Post:"The movie has too much plot, not enough sense, no personality, actionsequences that die wheezing and slobbering like an old dog, and nothingthat isn’t generic, stereotypical or without personality or vitality."

Comments (14 total) Add your comment
  • Meta

    I loved the first movie if only for the scenes of Chris Evans near naked. If this one has more of that. I’ll love it. Nuff said.

  • Ceballos

    …of course it’s getting better reviews than the first one…the original is AWFUL!

  • Big Pimp

    This movie was raw if not for just the cgi by itself!!! And the Silver Surfer with Morpheus’s voice is bad-ass!!!

  • Becky

    It was fun

  • Phil

    Chris Evans in nothing but a towel…that ALONE should be worth the price of admission, however as a comic book geek I gotta admit the movie wasn’t nearly as bad as the first one! Go see it, Personally I enjoyed it alot better than the serious-ness of Spidey 3!! Even Julian McMahon’s Doctor Doom wasn’t completely unbearable. Hope it does well at the box office this weekend! I’m predicting about 60 million…

  • Sean Sheer

    hunh? wha? it’s getting good reviews? not so sure about that… it’s clocking in with primarily bad reviews nationwide at the rotten tomatoes website. i saw it yesterday, it’s pretty awful. (and i’m a comics geek, FF was my fave comic as a child.) the story / dialogue never rise above bad TV. Alba’s wig is SCARY! anything good? chris evan’s chest. and i have to admit the surfer was well-done.

  • t3hdow

    First off, Rick Groan is a terrible writer. He tries way too hard to make clever phrases and metaphors in his write-up. It just makes his review much more difficult to read through than it should. I admit that Lisa S.’s suffers from the same flaw sometimes, but not nearly as much as that guy.
    Anyway, the commercials looked so stupid for the original film, I never gave it a chance. However, I’m not surprised to see the growing number of positive reviews, since the sequel actually looks watchable.

  • EP sato

    Can’t go with Stephen Hunter’s opine. He’s never given a good review to a comic book movie, not even the good ones like X Men 2.
    Speaking of which, when FF1 came out, I said something about how it’d follow a similar path to the X men movies, with the first one making money without critical acclaim, but the second one making all camps happy (fanboys and people who don’t dig on comics, etc). Seems FF has followed this exact formula. Aww yeah.
    Anyone see this yet? What is the “man on the street” saying about FF2, I mean FF:ROSS?

  • Ned

    I thought it was a fun summer movie, a little better than the first one, mostly because of the Silver Surfer, he was done exactly right. I didn’t think the first one was bad, just kind of mediocre.
    I grew up on comics, but I’m not a slave to the material, I don’t mind some changes here and there, as long as they get the spirit right, and they’ve been close with the FF movies, I just wish they had a really great director.
    Seems like I remember the X-Men movie getting mostly good reviews, regardless, you can’t compare those movies to these, those were just on another level, much better made. Unless you’re talking about X3, that one is sort of like these movies, a fun summer movie, but nothing more.

  • Phil

    I should have stuck around to the credits ran, but doe sanyone happen to know the name of the song Mister Fantastic is dancing to with the two ladies at his bachelor party? I know when he, Johnny and the Thing walk into the club Eve’s “Tambourine” is playing, but I wanna know the artist and title of the song he dances to. Any help?? I’d super duper appreciate it!

  • cinephile

    I haven’t seen the new Fantastic Four movie yet, but still have to ask: is “rick groen” a pseudonym for “owen gleiberman”?? I didn’t think anyone but the Gleib could mix metaphors with such ham-handedness, could find a writing voice that so perfectly mixed cluelessness and condescension, and could nail the sort of obtuse one-liner that would theoretically make woody allen bust out Marshall McLuhan to go medevil on your ass (Glieberman is the author of the following line, still my favorite bit of critical pretension in any medium, ever: “[The Saint] is the apotheosis of the new incoherence.”) This “Groen” fellow, though, certainly gives Gliebster a run for his money. Maybe EW should sign him up! After all, there will probably be some new “TV Watches” to fill in the fall.

  • really

    it wasn’t that bad, it’s pretty cool considering it’s a PG movie people!

  • Bob

    Cinephile,
    I don’t find your Gleiberman-sample particularly pretentious…and whatever stylistic tics you fault him for, I disagree that that dreadful Groen bit sounds at all like Owen’s reviews. If you had guessed Groen was a pseudonym for Lisa Schwartzbaum–author of howlers like “‘Knocked Up’ is comic chicken soup for the Colbert Nation soul,” I might’ve been convinced.

  • Howard

    This flick was a lot of fun, light years ahead of the last movie. It still had a few missteps and lapses of logic that a better director would have handled, but after this one, I wouldn’t mind seeing FF 3.
    The Jessica Alba “caucasianizing” wasn’t as bad as the pre-release stills made it look, but did they really need the blatent Dodge product placement? That was not only ridiculous, it took me out of the movie for a little bit.

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