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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Fantastic Four - Rise of the Silver Surfer
Fantastic Four - Rise of the Silver Surfer
Fox // PG // October 2, 2007
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Nick Lyons | posted September 27, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:
Critics and comic fans have generally been harsh towards the Fantastic Four films, but I'm puzzled as to why. Some folks don't seem to realize that the Fantastic Four aren't serious characters like Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne. The Fantastic Four has always been a comical tale of a dysfunctional family. To me, it's refreshing that everyone in the world is already aware that the Fantastic Four are heroes with powers. We don't have to witness another hero hiding behind a mask, which is what makes the newest installment of the Fantastic Four series ('rise Of The Silver Surfer") a much welcomed departure.

The story begins with Reed Richards and Sue Storm about to tie the knot, until the Silver Surfer literally whizzes by. From there on out, the Fantastic Four discover that the Surfer is leading a planet-eating being known as Galactus towards Earth. To make matters more complicated, Doctor Doom is back in action and has an agenda of his own.

The reason for the film's success lies within the character oriented script. Unlike comic films such as "300" (which is still a good film in its own right), action set pieces take a backseat to character development, of which there is a lot. Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic finally takes a step to be with the love of his life (Sue) and also begins to take charge in his role as a leader. Johnny Storm/The Human Torch shows a softer side as he realizes his life is empty when the other three members of the team find love. Johnny also shows off some leadership qualities and begins to grow as a person. That's not to say he's given up his persona as a hotshot ladies man... As for the Thing and Sue Storm, their characters aren't as prevalent as they were showcased more in the first film.

Much has been said about the depiction of Galactus, but I personally didn't mind the interpretation. I think the God-like appearance he has in the movie is superior to the original design (which is gigantic man in a goofy purple costume). The original design simply wouldn't have worked on screen as no one would be able to take the character seriously.

The highlight of the movie is without question the references to the comic series such as the Fantasticar, Frankie Raye, and of course the Silver Surfer. The f/x department absolutely nailed the Surfer's design, mannerisms, and persona. I really hope Fox decides to go ahead with the Silver Surfer film. He's fully deserving of his own film. The Fantasticar was a blast to see on screen, especially during the gripping chase sequence with Doctor Doom. As for Frankie Raye, while she has little to do on screen, it was a nice treat for comic fans to show her in this film, considering she becomes a future herald of Galactus named Nova.

I do have a few complaints with the film. First off, Doctor Doom doesn't belong here. His appearance doesn't hurt the film at all, but it's not a necessary inclusion. The star attractions of the movie are Galactus and Silver Surfer, yet they are given less screen time in favor of Doom. More focus should have been spent on Galactus trying to destroy Earth, instead of Doom's story, which amounts to little more than a pesky sub-plot. Also, writer Don Payne had an opportunity to show just how menacing Galactus is, but instead opts to wrap the story up in a jiffy. The ending is anti-climactic to say the least.

The DVD

Video:
The 2:35.1 widescreen video quality starts out with stunning clarity and detail. However, in the final 10 minutes (mostly in the China scenes), the picture quality becomes grainy in night/fast-action shots. I do have to say that I received a Special Screening Copy for review, so it's possible the official disk that streets next week will look significantly better.

Sound: The English 5.1 Dolby Digital track is good when it focuses on dialogue and sound f/x (like the Surfer's board, the Fantasticar), but the sound is noticeably too loud in the music and background noise department.

Extras: Disk 1:

* Trailers for "The Simpsons Movie," "Live Free Or Die Hard."

* English and Spanish subtitles.

* A commentary track by Tim Story. This commentary is fun to listen to as Tim Story's passion for the material is evident when he discusses how he lifted certain aspects from comic books such as Mr. Fantastic's computer and Stan Lee's cameo. The highlight of the track, however, is when Story reveals how he wanted Nick Fury in the film, but instead replaced had to make do with the General.

* The second commentary track with producer Avi Arad, writer Don Payne, and editors Peter S. Elliot and William Hoy is dull at best. Arad mainly talks about his obsession with the Fantastic 4 switching powers, Payne talks about re-writes and switching scenes (like the London set piece) around, and the editors mostly complain about what they would have done differently like not allowing Silver Surfer to open his eyes at the end. Note: The four are not speaking on the track together (only Hoy and Elliot recorded together). The 3 groups recorded a track separately and the DVD producers slapped bits and pieces from each one into track (as far as I can gather).

Disk 2:

* Still galleries of behind-the-scenes photos, characters, and concept art.

* Trailers for "Fantastic 4," "X-Men," "X-Men: United," "X-Men: The Last Stand," "Dark Angel," "Deck The Halls," "Futurama: Bender's Big Score," and two theatrical trailers for "F4: Rise Of The Silver Surfer."

* 5 deleted scenes (with optional commentary by Tim Story) titled "Full Main Title," "Fantastic Store," "Wedding Montage," "Reed Gets Crushed Ring," and "Doom Builds Arm Band And Covers Up His Mask." The only scene worthy of mention was the "Fantastic Store" which is a hilarious scene with Johnny in a F4 merchandise store realizing the Thing action figures are more popular than the Human Torch figures.

* An interactive Fantasticar extra in which you can look at different angles of the vehicle.

* A thorough 46-minute making of titled "Family Bonds." This extra takes a look at the pre-production and production processes. We see Story and crew location scouting, looking at props and sets being built, as well as the crew shooting actual scenes. My favorite moment is when Story first sees the Fantasticar and geeks out.

* A 4 ½ minute featurette titled "Scoring the Fantastic." As you can guess, this extra is about film composer John Ottman giving us insights into scoring (such as creating character themes and re-using themes from the first film).

* An 11 ½ minute "Character Design With Special Motion" featurette that showcases the Thing suit design, make-up, and how actor Michael Chiklis goes through the process of wearing the suit.

* "The Power Cosmic" (15 minutes) extra discusses how Weta did the Silver Surfer visual f/x/design and how they used actor Doug Jones to do motion capture and acting.

* A 10 ½ minute featurette called "The Fantasticar: State Of The Art." This extra covers everything you want to know about the original comic designs of the Fantasticar, how they modernized the vehicle, plus how it was designed and how it works.

* Finally, there is the 38 ½ minute "Sentinel Of The Spaceways: Comic Book Origins Of The Silver Surfer" featurette, which is arguably the best extra. Interviews with Ron Marz, Stan Lee, Steve Englehart reveal the various forms of Silver Surfer, his backstory, and how his alien perspective of the Earth's problems speaks to people.

Final Thoughts:
Not only is "Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer" an enjoyable blockbuster for the masses, but it's also a memorable comic adaptation that should please hardcore comic book fans. Buy it.

Film and television enthusiast Nick Lyons recently had his first book published titled "Attack of the Sci-Fi Trivia." It is available on Amazon.com.

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