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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin.  I watch a movie I own and blog about it.  You know the routine by now.  Today, I'm doing Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.  This is in my notes at August 24, 2019.

Well, I may as well finish off the mid-2000s run of Fantastic Four films with its sequel, Rise of the Silver Surfer.  With the 2005 film didn't set the world on fire, it did do well enough for a sequel, and what better story to adapt than not just one of the Fantastic Four's most famous stories, but one of the most famous stories in all of comics, the coming of Silver Surfer and Galactus? 

And again, just like the first film, it's all kinda phoned in. 

The FF have settled into their new lives as superheroes, and have been enjoying the fame that comes with it.  Reed and Sue's upcoming wedding has been declared the wedding of the century, and they're hounded by the paparazzi wherever they go.  This is causing some strife for Sue, because as the big day approaches, this is not what she pictured. 

A mysterious silver object enters the atmosphere.  Wherever it goes, there's strange, meteorological events, and massive bore holes digging down to the Earth's' core.  The military, led by General Rager, reaches out to Reed Richards for help.  Fun trivia fact:  as they explain on the running commentary, they originally wanted to use Nick Fury, but when it turned out Fox didn't own the character, they came up with General Rager as our Nick Fury knock-off.  And the general is played pretty good by Andre Braugher, who's now kicking ass as Commander Holt of Brooklyn Nine Nine

Anyway, turns out the general doesn't like Reed Richards that much, because Reed once ripped to shreds a defense plan he was putting together.  But, the Pentagon wants Reed on it, specifically to build a tracking system to hunt down this silver being.  Reed originally blows off the general, because his wedding is coming up, but scientific curiosity gets the better of him and he builds it anyway. 

But it turns out to be a mistake, because it results in the Silver Surfer crashing the wedding.  The three get to show off their powers as they save the wedding guests, and Johnny Storm flames on to chase down the Surfer, in what I will admit, is a pretty spectacular chase scene.  But, it leaves Johnny changed.  A blast of the Power Cosmic from the Surfer destabilizes Johnny, allowing him to swap powers with any other member of the FF when he touches them. 

Back to Sue lamenting that this isn't the kind of normal life she wants, so Reed says that when this Surfer business is done, they'll leave the FF and go settle down somewhere.  This doesn't sit to well with Johnny and Ben, and the FF's bickering about this leads to the Surfer escaping next time they confront him in London.  The general is pissed, so he decides to bring in...Doctor Doom to help out!  Yup, turns out one of the Surfer's random blasts of the Power Cosmic revived Doom, and Doom, too, has been tracking the Surfer.

Working together, they determine that the Surfer actually draws his power from his board, so to capture the Surfer, they develop a device to separate him from his board.

I do love that when they're setting up the device, it leads to Reed Richards' one true badass moment, where he finally tells the general that he's sick of his shit: 

Seriously, the casting in the these films was pretty good.  I know he's become so beloved as Captain America, but Chris Evans truly was a great Human Torch. 

Anyway, they pull of their plan, they manage to capture the Silver Surfer, and when seperated from his board, he goes from shimmering silver CGI to dully grey man-in-suit.  Again, Silver Surfer is pretty good in this film.  Body by Doug Jones, voice by Laurence Fishburne.  In this day and age, you know they'd just have Fishburne performance capture the whole thing, but even though Gollum proved it could work, it didn't become the norm until Avatar

The Surfer is whisked away to a top secret military instillation, the FF are placed on lockdown, but they eventually sneak out and learn from the Surfer that Galactus is coming, and that the Surfer's work has been to prepare the planet for him.  The manage to sway the Surfer to the side of good and help them stop Galactus.  But, there's a problem.  Turns out Doom had his ulterior motive, and he claims the Surfer's power for himself.  Like the man said, curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal! 

So, the FF and the Surfer hop in the Fantasticar and chase down Doom, before crash-landing in Vancouver's Chinatown Shanghai.  Thanks to his power-swapping power, the FF realize the best way to fight Doom is give Johnny all their powers, and Johnny goes all Super-Skrull and lays the smackdown on Doom.  With Doom defeated, the Surfer goes to face Galactus.  The Surfer is successful, Galactus is defeated, Earth is saved, an extra blast of the Power Cosmic from the Surfer heals Johnny, and Sue decides that a normal life is overrated. 

On their way back to Manhattan, Reed and Sue get a quickie wedding in Japan, and then they get called off on their next adventure!  And in one of the earliest post-credit stingers, it's shown that the Surfer survived his confrontation with Galactus and goes off on his solo adventure. 

And that's where the franchise fizzled out.  This second one did about as much business as the first film, which apparently wasn't enough to warrant a third film.  Focus turned to a Silver Surfer solo film, but that eventually fizzled out, and the FF remained dormant until 2015 reboot. 

Again, like the first film, it's good but not great.  One of the most iconic stories in comics given a rather perfunctory adaptation.  And if you thought fans were upset back in the day when Doom was turned into just another evil billionaire, they were right pissed off when Galactus was turned into...a cloud.  Just this menacing cloud floating through space.  Although, at the end, when the Surfer flies into the heart of the cloud to face Galactus, we do see a familiar...shape.  We see Galactus's outline...that's about it. 

Oh, and one other little trivia bit.  It's the first Stan Lee cameo in a Marvel film where Stan Lee played himself.  Just like the actual issue of the comics where Sue and Reed got married, Stan Lee tries to crash the wedding, only to be turned away when the usher doesn't recognize him. 

So,  yeah.  Rise of the Silver Surfer.  It's fine, I guess.  But for Marvel's First Family, we want so much more. 

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