In this summer of sequels we have learned many things. One thing in particular is the fact that you don’t necessarily have to make a good movie in order to make a lot of money. Case in point, Spider-Man 3; a steaming pile of suck that broke box office records like they were going out of style. Since Spider-Man‘s notorious release and subsequent “success”, we have seen a host of other mediocre sequels, including Shrek 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. It has been Hollywood’s way of training us to not get our hopes up, but to buy our tickets anyway. With that in mind, enter Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer into the mix.

Of course there are a few things that you could expect based on the first Fantastic Four flick. Extremely lackluster attempts at acting, painfully cheesy dialog and a cartoonishly light and fluffy plot. But then again, the Fantastic Four have always been the welter-weights of badass in the superhero world. The craptastic acting and cheesy dialog was overshadowed a bit in the first flick by both the hotness of Jessica Alba as Sue Storm and some fun action sequences. With Rise of the Silver Surfer, we are forced to wait patiently for some action that eventually arrives and as for Ms. Alba’s hotness, we may still be waiting when the credits roll.

To postpone the action as long as possible, the story begins with the turmoil of Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffud) and Susan Storm’s (Jessica Alba) wedding plans, oft plagued by the world needing saved by a “fantastic” science project. We are then led down the hall of “dwell” as the 4 all begin to assess their own lives, wondering if a life of celebrity and public service is really what they want for themselves. Of course, all this is happening while the Silver Surfer is drilling huge holes in the Earth so that a big cloud can come and eat our planet. They should have shown more of that, by the way.

The film does win back some points when the action does finally begin, after you drudge through all of the melodrama and terrible dialog. Dr. Doom (Julian McMahon) returns to life without much explanation to make things even more difficult, leaving this film with almost as many villains as Spider-Man 3. Thankfully, the writers on this film were at least one notch above the amoeba shit that wrote Spidey’s third act and they kept it simple for the most part. Stuff blows up, the world comes under perilous attack and a family lesson (PG style) is right around the corner as we witness the rise of the Silver Surfer, and the continued downfall of a movie franchise.

By far the biggest disappointment about Rise of the Silver Surfer is the under-use of Jessica Alba’s hotness. Every shot seems to be from the shoulders up, leaving us big kids with too much Michael Chiklis in our fantasies. On top of that, she whines about her wedding bell blues throughout the bulk of the film, all but killing any romance that may have been possible with the Alba fanboys. It’s disappointing to say, but when it comes to Jessica Alba, I am actually looking forward to Good Luck Chuck.

So what’s the bottom line on this frightfully lackluster second installment? If you were a big fan of the first film, don’t be surprised if you aren’t blown away. If you didn’t like the first film, there is no reason to go for another helping. And if you are on the fence, hang out for the DVD release. Or at least, if you are really looking for big summer action, save your money for Transformers.

Grade: D+


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