Comic book quartet returns in ‘Fantastic Four’ sequel |

Comic book quartet returns in ‘Fantastic Four’ sequel

Howie Nave

Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) and Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) encounter the Silver Surfer in "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer." (Diyah Pera / 20th Century Fox)

They’re back in a sequel two years later, and ready to take on more menacing characters. Creator Stan Lee must be feeling fantastic himself, knowing his Marvel comic book characters are raking in record amounts of box office gold, going from his characters on paper to human beings on the big screen. The first “Fantastic Four” had a worldwide take of $330 million, and became one of Twentieth Century Fox’s most successful DVD releases ever.

In “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,” the quartet is back, which consists of Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards, Jessica Alba as Sue Storm, Chris Evans as Johnny Storm, and Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm (also known as the Thing). They’re superstars now, this time out hounded by the paparazzi and well wishers after their heroic encounter with the ill-fated Dr. Doom (played by Julian McMahon) from the first movie. But, what’s this? Is he really gone from this world? Was he planning something diabolical during his two-year sabbatical?

Enter the Silver Surfer – and why do these characters insist on wanting this world devoured? Why not Pluto? It’s smaller and not even a planet anymore.

The Silver Surfer could have easily had his own movie, but instead is riding the wave of popularity on a level similar to that of Stan Lee’s “Spider-Man.” The chrome-plated Surfer (digitally created with the help of performer Doug Jones and voiced by Laurence Fishburne) has joined the super-power circle from the galactic beyond to partake in the world’s demise.

Fans of the popular comic book series can envision a spin-off where Surfer gets his own franchise … but let’s see what happens here first. However, the new character known as the planet-eating Galactus could have been called The Tornado of the Never Ending Appetite. I was glad that the Four have new villains to contend with and, yeah, the CGI special effects were pretty cool, but compared to the “X-Men” or “Spider-Man” franchises, this one is OK. And while Galactus had no discernible dialogue, director Tim Story (who was also at the helm of the first movie) made up with the action sequences.

One aspect I did enjoy was the length of the movie. Normally I wouldn’t complain if the movie moved along at a brisk pace, but for once it was rather refreshing to have a movie clock in at an hour and a half.

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Oh, yeah, another part of this flick that was cool was that there was no hidden message dealing with morality other then bad guys vs. the good guys. OK, so if you strain a bit at the capture of the Silver Surfer, maybe … but then again, I was looking for any subtext having to do with America as a world police force.

I did like the smart-alecky, sarcastic persona of Johnny Storm. As in the first “Fantastic Four,” he reveled in the whole rock-star treatment, and played it up to the hilt. He does the same here, much to the chagrin of the Thing. When not sporting their super capabilities, I also enjoyed the human aspect when Sue and Reed tied the knot. Can we expect a next generation of super-powered Fantastics in the next sequel?

As in most other movies based on his creations, Stan Lee makes a cameo. His one in “Spider-Man 3” was one of his most visible. This time, see if you can spot him as a “guest” at Reed and Sue Richards’ celebrity wedding. Pretty humorous.

— Howie Nave is host/manager of The Improv comedy club inside Harveys and reviews films for seven radio stations throughout northern California and Nevada, including the Sirius Radio Network every Sunday evening. He is also host of “Howie’s Morning Rush” on Tahoe’s KRLT radio.

Keepin’ it reel:

Now Playing: “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer”

Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington, Andre Braugher, Laurence Fishburne, Doug Jones, Beau Garrett

Directed by: Tim Story

Rated: PG

Running time: 92 minutes

Howie gives it: 3.5 out of 5 bagels