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FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER
U.S. Release Date: June 15, 2007
Distributor: Fox
Director: Tim Story
Writer: Don Payne
Producer: Avi Arad, Chris Columbus (executive), Bernd Eichinger, Kevin Feige ((executive)), Stan Lee (executive), Ralph Winter
Composer: John Ottman
Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington, Andre Braugher, Laurence Fishburne (Voice)
Running Time: 1 hour and 29 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG (sequences of action violence, some mild language and innuendo)

Foursome's Sequel Ignites
by Scott Holleran

Like its innocuous predecessor, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a capable comics-based action fantasy. Blending light humor with an even lighter measure of heroism, the sequel coasts to a solid Saturday matinee status.

Chris Evans, Ioan Gruffudd, Michael Chiklis and Jessica Alba reprise their roles as the quartet of superheroes—Human Torch, Mr. Fantastic, Thing and Invisible Woman—joined again by Thing's blind, knowing girlfriend Alicia (Kerry Washington) and the evil ex-scientist Victor (Julian McMahon), who may or may not be abetting an outer space-sourced force that threatens to destroy the earth.

The form the force takes is the god-like Silver Surfer (voiced by Laurence Fishburne, modeled by Doug Jones), who glides in and out of the movie following an entertaining setup of character reintroductions, an impending wedding and a logistical problem with the foursome's fiery hunk (Evans), still swaggering and as bratty as ever.

Whether he's flirting with an Armed Forces ice queen, teasing his sister (Alba) or tempting Mr. Fantastic (Gruffudd) to stretch into a pre-marital good time, Evans as Torch ignites Rise of the Silver Surfer's affable sense of humor. This movie's heroes are as square as the Hardy Boys and that's frankly a welcome change from the usual spate of self-loathing anti-heroes.

Hot-tempered Torch does get his due, while his invisible sis has to play the whiny girlfriend to Mr. Fantastic, whose judgment is critical to the United States military's mission to save the planet from being wiped out. Tough guy Thing's rapport with the needling Torch, as in the original, is half the fun. The other half is watching the four sporadically switch powers.

With sudden blackouts, abrupt meteorological changes and explosions, the action arcs broadly toward an embrace of free will (reminiscent of The Iron Giant), topped by the notion that heroes united behind their virtues are unstoppable.

Downsides are a been-there, done-that villain (a weak link the first time out, too) dressed like Star Wars' Emperor, an over-the-top officious general (Andre Braugher), and an abundance of Fox News affiliate plugs. That and not quite enough of the Silver Surfer, who takes a liking to Alba's starry-eyed idealist. Overall, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer fits the bill for a simple summer escape.


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