REVIEW: Fantastic Four Two
OK, so here we go: it’s the official midway point between the first and latter half of the Summer of Blockbusters. With last week’s box office flop consisting of Ocean’s 13 and Hostel Part 2, a sequel to a film nobody was all that psyched about to begin with has got failure written all over it, right? Wrong. Of the films I have caught this summer, FF2 has got to be my favorite, which is probably the highest honor I can give it. From titles to credits, I only complained once, and even that wasn’t totally worthy of complaint. But I’m getting ahead of myself, we’ve done this enough times for me not to deter from format, of course we have to break the film down and throw in a few obscure comic references, or else it just wouldn’t feel right.
Starting off with the acting, I was more than happy with everyone’s performances in the film, including Alba’s, who I bitched and moaned about in the previous film. This movie has got enough content jam-packed into 89 minutes that her flickering eyes and blank stare were almost as invisible as the character herself.
My favorite part of a superhero sequel is that we’re beyond the need for introductions and origins, and we can get to the grits of the character. There were a few things I wanted in the first film that were delivered with bells on in this film. Those being: more Johnny and Ben camaraderie, less “will they or won’t they” with Sue and Reed, and a whole lot less of Julian McMahon looking somber. While we got much more of the first, the second two still had their moments, but again with a film that primarily shifts the focus on a brand new character, the little problems like that get lost in the cracks. We also get a reprise of Stan Lee, unsurprisingly, but this time he doesn’t come back as Postman Willie Lumpkin, but another, very special character. I won’t give it away, but I’ll drop a hint: He’s old.
The next section of course being the special effects of the film. And I’m somewhat jaded in this category, because for years, the only Fantastic Four I knew of other than ink on paper was from the Roger Corman epic, and those of you who remember that also remember a lot of clay-mation stretchiness and I Dream of Jeannie camera tricks for the invisible effect. So comparing it to the two new films is like holding a candle up to the sun. The effects started off pretty poor, but then came to blow me away by the end of the flick. This is where we touch on the giant purple elephant in the room, Galactus.
I’m going to put an end to the rumor right now and admit that Yes: Galactus is a cloud, BUT! It’s completely pulled off in this picture. I was the first webgeek to bitch and moan that I wanted a giant purple dude like we’ve always known the Devourer of Worlds to be, but when you consider the impact of a twister three times the size of earth coming to literally eat the world, the image is haunting, and even us original geeks get a nod from the crew towards the end of the picture. Again, I don’t want to spoil too much, but during the final battle, look directly into the “belly of Galactus” to see an old face.
Moving over to the most important character of the film, and what seems to be the meal ticket by getting his name in lights, the Silver Surfer. Going into the movie, I knew he would be computer generated, and that Larry Fishbourne would be doing his whole monotone Matrix voice, but what the ads and trailers don’t show you is that halfway through the film, we get an actual person Silver Surfer, and he looks amazing. At the point in the film, the Surfer goes from chrome to a dusty silver, and I may not have all of my facts straight, but I’m about 98% positive that it’s a real person playing the role. Played by Hellboy’s Abe Sapien, Doug Jones comes in to do the physical appearance of the Surfer, and he couldn’t look more like him. Be the judge, but for me this is what made the movie. Considering how much of a letdown Venom was in Spidey 3, this rejuvenates all of my expectations in comic book films.
Finally, we move to the final category of this tremendous film, in the story aspect. Like I said earlier, my favorite part about sequels is the lack of origins and exposition, and that’s exactly what we get here. Even the Surfer just shows up and decides to tell us a little about himself in the third act of the movie. But all of our players are in place, we know who the good guys are, who the bad guys are, and what they all need to do. We get some sneaky villainy from Julian McMahon, some added dimension to Chris Evan’s character, and of course the primary Galactus plotline. But here’s my biggest complaint of the movie, which I warned you was coming. I felt that the Fantasticar was given far too much attention, and in a film that’s 89 minutes, we should’ve used it for something more productive.
I always thought of the Fantasticar as another cheap attempt to compete with the ever-growing popularity of the Batmobile. Looking at other attempts such as the Arrowcar, the Spider Car, or even the Quinjet, I always considered those just another marketing tool, and pointless when it came to actual crime fighting. But this film gives us a total of 3 scenes with the sole purpose of foreshadowing the appearance of the Fantasticar. I would’ve been much happier with those scenes dedicated to the appearance of H.E.R.B.I.E., but that’s just me.
Overall, nitpicking aside, I couldn’t have enjoyed this film more, I originally stated this as being my favorite film of the ’07 Summer, but I may have to go as far as to say this is my favorite film of 2007 thus far. Looking at the lull in the box office, if this film were to make anything less than $100 million in the first weekend, it’d be a damn shame. I give the film a roaring 9/10, with hopes to see another very soon (possibly with a Paul Giamatti Mole Man??). But I give this film my stamp of approval, and I suggest catching this in theaters before it’s booted to make room for giant robots.
Bridgeport CT disc jockey Matt Raub reviews movies and television for ComicMix.Com and The Big ComicMix Broadcast.