Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

(2007) ** Pg
92 min. 20th Century Fox. Director: Tim Story. Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon.

A reading from the Books of Marvel.

Lo, and there were "global disturbances and cosmic radiation." The Silver Surfer rode among them. Herald of planet-destroying Galactus, the Surfer promised Apocalypse on the Eighth Day. On planet Earth, many were called, and many responded. Among them were a multitude of special effects companies, some blessed with grace and beauty, the others accursed to paint pixels only with thumbs. So too came forth the nasty U.S. government, bearing arms and not olive branches. Their form was excellent, led by the splendid Andre Braugher, known at that time as General Hager. But only the Fantastic Four—begot of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby—could, y'know, save the day.

And in the Week of Reckoning, Victor Von Doom, known at that time as Julian McMahon, rose again. Not in a way that made a lot of sense, mind you. But who are you to question the will of the Great Space Cloudy Whirlpool Galactus and his intergalactic hunting dog, the Silver Surfer? That's what I thought. It was written. Written, so it was said, by Don Payne and Mark Frost. Or perhaps not so much written as stitched. Like Frankenstein's monster. From each scribe's spare parts and by a producer without so much as a doctorate. But lo, I digress.

The Four did the will of their own master, 20th Century Fox. The Human Torch, known as Johnny Storm, known at that time as Chris Evans, took the prize for acting—truly a sign of the Apocalypse. The Human Torch began the Week of Apocalypse as a sinner, throwing an iniquitous bachelor party for Dr. Reed Richards, known as Mr. Fantastic, known as Stretch, known as Ioan Gruffud. So too did the Torch think impure thoughts, unlike his friends in committed relationships. So too did the Torch talk of marketing the Fantastic Four by selling advertising space on their costumes. And Twentieth Century Fox said that it was good.

Mr. Fantastic tried anon, as he had tried four times before, to make an honest Invisible Woman of Sue Storm, known as Johnny's brother, known at that time as Jessica Alba, known as "Hot." But the world came first and ever shall, world without end, whoops I gave away the ending. And the critics on the steps of the temple said that it was absurd, with a ratio of funny jokes to bad jokes numbering five to one, with not enough impressive action to spark the thinnest of plots, with dialogue so corny it came out intact with the waste product known as Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. That corny.

And the tale shall be told and retold at the multiplex temples. Geeks, be on alert! One among you, Brian Posehn, plays a preacher! Fans of Michael Chiklis, otherwise known as the Thing, sing to the heavens! For the beefy baldy gets out of the rocky suit a few times. Children, rejoice! For there is super-burping and super-disco-dancing! Disbelievers, stay at home! For you will scoff at dysfunctional-superhero-family issues, like the impossibility of normalcy. Have you no heart, heathens? How can the tale be an empty exercise when big things go boom and whoosh? Especially the whoosh.

Lest we forget, this is the story of the wicked-shiny Reflective One, the Silver Surfer. And oh, you better believe there shall be more! It is the story of a threatening zero who turns out to be a noble zero. Both sound a lot like Laurence Fishburne, and move with the grace of Doug Jones. And the Surfer passed through buildings and buses with a squish. And the Surfer said, "All that you know is at an end." And the world did not end, as such, but the story did, for now, with a Silver Surfer ex machina. And Stan Lee peered in from behind the velvet ropes, but he was denied. And yet he smiled. This is how the world ends, with bangs above and whimpers below. And Twentieth Century Fox said that it was good.

[For Groucho's interview with Ioan Gruffud, click here.]

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