The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba and Chris Evans. Directed by Tim Storey
Running Time: 92 minutes
Rated: Rated PG (mild fantasy violence, mild coarse language)
When the first Fantastic Four film came out in 2005, it was considered a lesser effort and production compared with the 'big' adaptations of comic strip characters like Batman, Superman, Spiderman or the X Men. This was true. However, in its modest way, it was a straightforward entertainment with entertaining characters, stunts and effects, four mutant superheroes along the lines of the X men but less high profile, more down to earth, so to speak. The other factor was that the plots were less complicated, heroes and villains clearly delineated, some comic touches - and a general treatment that made the film acceptable PG action.

And this is true of this sequel. The four are now familiar and can illustrate their abilities without having to explain them. Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) can stretch when need be. Sue (Jessica Alba) can become invisible as she wishes. Johnny (Chris Evans) can fire up instantly and pursue enemies through the air and Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) looks even more granite boulder than before. The film has Reed and Sue about to get married, but the ceremony is interrupted so that the world can be saved. The writers also work into the plot some humour where each of the Four is affected by the Silver Surfer and, with a touch, can absorb the powers of the other - some jokes here as Johnny turns into stone etc.

The Silver Surfer rides a cosmic surfboard. Coming from a dying planet, he swoops over the earth with instant ice storms, or solidifying harbours or causing blackouts in LA. He also (conveniently) passes over the prison where past villain Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon) has been held since the last film and frees him. Von Doom is smart and teams up with the singleminded military commander (Andre Braugher) to work with the Four to defeat the Silver Surfer. But his plans, of course, are egotistical and power-hungry.

Action sequences are enjoyable. The Silver Surfer (voiced by Laurence Fishburne) turns out to have his own sad story. And the world is saved again, even if this time Reed and Sue have to hurry through their marriage ceremony to get back to more heroics.

20th Century Fox Out June 21

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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