Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Well, at least “Iron Man” looks like it’s going to be cool.

For those keeping track: Marvel movies in 2007 are 0 for 3. And strangely, “Ghost Rider” is still probably the best of the bunch.

Spoiler warnings apply from this point forward.

I’ll start with what worked in FF2:
-The Thing and the Human Torch. Individually and together, the characterizations are faithful to the comics. Both were fun to watch on screen.
-The Silver Surfer. Impressive technology at work–he looked really, really, cool. Laurence Fishburne’s voice didn’t sound right to me, though.
-The movie’s run time. After the six-hour “Spider-Man 3,” “FF2″ felt more like a sitcom. At only 90 minutes, “Fantastic Four” breezed by. I’m a fan of brevity, especially if filmmakers have nothing much of interest to say.
-The Fantasticar. Totally cool, though its product placement for Dodge made me choke on my Slurpee (another benefactor of egregious product placement moment in the movie).
-The sequel is better than the original. Take that at face value.

Here’s what didn’t work in FF2:
-Ioan Gruffudd. Worst acting ever. Maybe it was just the result of a bad script, but this makes two movies in a row he’s stunk up.
-…which leads me to Mr. Fantastic’s bachelor party. It was a great premise for a scene, shot into oblivion with a retarded silliness that makes the “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head” scene in “Spider-Man 2″ look like the beach-storming opening of “Saving Private Ryan.”
-Andre Braugher. Okay, we get it…the military is humorless. Now take that stick out of your ass so we can beat you with it.
-Jessica Alba. I’m still not buying her as Sue Storm/the Invisible Girl.
-Dr. Doom’s return. Huh?
-Dr. Doom being endorsed by the U.S. government. Huh? Apparently, no one in charge of our military could be bothered to see the last awful “FF” movie to know what an evil prick Doc Doom is.
-Galactus. A legendary Stan Lee/Jack Kirby creation–one who means so much to the history of the Fantastic Four, depicted here as a really shitty weather pattern. I felt ripped off in the same way I did as a kid, watching “Spider-Man” on Electric Company, wondering why Spidey never actually talked.
-The Silver Surfer’s “Gitmo” moment. 95% of “FF2″ is lightweight fluff, which makes the politcal statement of having the Surfer shackled and tortured in an off-the-grid Siberian facility incongruous and insulting.
-The PG-level profanity. Words like “crap,” “hell,” and “nuts,” seemed totally unnecessary and forced. And this is coming from a guy who complained that there wasn’t enough swearing in either “Scarface” or “Glengarry Glen Ross.”
-The wacky exchange of powers. Annoying once. Infuriating twice. Ridiculous to see as a plot device that inevitably helps saves the planet from the evil storm cloud known as Galactus.
-The Japanese wedding. Words fail me.

As a comic book reader, enthusiast, and fan, I take poorly-made comic adaptations as an affront. The more shitty comic movies that are made, the greater the chance that the genre will lose steam. I pray that “The Dark Knight” is every bit as good as “Batman Begins.” I’m trusting Jon Favreau’s vision for “Iron Man.” I’m confident that another round of “Sin City” will be amazing. I’m guardedly optimistic about “Hulk 2,” now that Ed Norton’s on board. “Hellboy 2″ should be okay. There’s still life in the comics-to-film genre, but this year’s done nothing to help.

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