A Review by Noah Antwiler
I have officially lost all faith in the future of mankind. It's gone. I write this review as a broken, hollow man, having finally become the thing I feared I would one day degenerate to: a raving madman. I now understand the desperate, manic dread Charlton Heston's character felt when he ran down the streets, howling in a futile attempt to warn the oblivious public that Soylent Green is made of people. I now understand Travis Bickle's cold, fervent desire that one day a rain must come and wash the scum off the streets. If Great Cthulhu had risen from his eternal sleep in R'lyeh and consumed all the world in madness and death while I was in the theater watching Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, I would have welcomed the wave of oblivion with rabid glee. Why would anyone want to live in a world with movies like Silver Surfer in it? Why would anyone want to exist in a future ruled by a generation that stood in front of me, dozens of children all, and applauded the credits for a full minute? Please, my lord Galactus, devour this world. We are unfit to exist. We should all of us perish for allowing this crime against art to exist. We should all of us burn for not offering our children something better.
They applauded. They celebrated this... this atrocity. They reveled in its mediocrity. Bathed joyously in its ineptitude. They vowed to watch it again. And standing there, agape, my mind twisting and reeling in the horror of what I'd seen, redoubled by the fresh real horror of witnessing an entire generation's cultural fall in microcosm, all I could do was scream at the departing crowds "What in the hell is wrong with you people??" I retreated to my car, realizing grimly that I'd now started yelling at children who hadn't even been born when I was reading the very comics that were being raped and defiled on the silver screen. Have I really become the movie equivalent of a ragged maniac raging at passers-by, toting a soiled sign reading "THE END IS NIGH" and offering salvation if only people would read my scripture? Has our culture become so fouled, so shriveled, so worthless that I alone remember a time when entertainment still existed outside of Paris Hilton and American Idol?
In the end, all I have—all I can do is rage, rage against the dying of this fight. I've already lost. I can accept that. I suppose as movies like Silver Surfer slowly strangle the good taste out of our children, the best I can do is be the rake at the gates of hell, laughing as we approach a cultural gallows of our own design.
There. That's a bit more descriptive than the sentence I'd originally written at the top of this review: "Fantastic Four is crap." Then I just copied and pasted it five hundred times, wondering if I sent it in to my editor if it would actually get printed. After all, if you actually read "Fantastic Four is crap" five hundred times, you would find it much more entertaining than the movie and cheaper than paying for a ticket. But then I realized that's probably true of eating a stick of butter too, and decided to put a little more effort into it.
Thanks to all of you filthy cretins who dropped more than $150 million on the first movie, you've given its producers the impression that they were doing something right, thus churning out this bear-flop of a movie. Only this time, it brings back everything that sucked fudge the last time, runs it through a complex digital process of crap amplification, and introduces all new things to hate. By far the worst news to herald the coming of this abomination was the return of director Tim Story, a no-talent little twirp who isn't qualified to videotape city council meetings and bingo nights for public access television, but who somehow has landed two major studio releases. How is it possible that people as inept as Brett Ratner, Uwe Boll, and Tim Story are handed hundreds of millions of dollars and allowed to perpetrate crimes against art of this magnitude? I wouldn't let these people assemble McGriddles, let alone supervise a motion picture.
The story, if you can call it that, centers around the arrival of the Silver Surfer, one of the most powerful characters of the Marvel Comics universe. He serves as the herald of Galactus, in the comics depicted as a ridiculously-costumed purple titan in a stupid helmet who eats planets, in this movie a giant amorphous space flatulence. The Surfer doesn't really do much heralding, instead using his powers cosmic to bore giant holes in geometrically-optimal regions of the planet to allow Fartlactus easy access to its gooey nougat center.
But all of that sounds interesting, which I assure you, it isn't. The Surfer is voiced by a woefully-miscast Laurence Fishburne, both in the sense that he's the only person in the entire cast that has a sliver of acting talent and that his voice sounds completely wrong coming from the Surfer's mouth. But then, everyone is miscast in Fantastic Four, from the utterly vapid Ioan Gruffudd (a man whose name and acting remind me of a cat regurgitating a hairball) to the worst actress working today besides Amanda Peet: Jessica Alba.
I could spend days raging about how abominable Jessica Alba is as an actress, but I don't think that evidence has ever been more clearly on display than this movie, where she's given the majority of the soap-operatic melodrama dialogue but is hampered by her natural acting range of a copier prone to paper jams. I don't know why they even bothered trying to make her look like the Sue Storm from the comics by gluing a hilariously bad blonde wig on her and giving her near-vampiric blue contact lenses; we all know why she's really here, and it's not because of her acting. She looks so freakish I barely know how to describe it. A mutant fish with hair? A drowned corpse with a sunburn? I don't know, but somehow they've succeeded in making Jessica Alba unattractive: the one and only thing she's ever had going for her.
How many movies must this woman sink before we get fed up? She basically killed Sin City. Where does it end? Do I have to tour every movie theater in the world covered in silver paint, calling myself the Herald of Craplactus, warning everyone I see that Jessica Alba, the Destroyer of Movies is coming? If I could have prevented just one person from seeing Into the Blue, it would not have been a wasted life.
Anyway, the Four are experiencing problems. The world is buzzing about the oft-delayed marriage between Reed Richards and Sue, but every time they get close to walking the aisle their superhero lives intrude. Sue wants to give up the high-life and retire from their celebrity, and spends the majority of the movie acting like a nagging prude, selfishly demanding attention from everyone while the world ends around them. Oh yes, once again I find that there's nothing more interesting than a group of people with amazing powers sitting around in a room whining about how much it sucks to have those powers and trying to get rid of them as quickly as possible. Now that's excitement.
Was it so wrong to expect that a group of superheroes be given something to do? Enemies to fight? Why is it that all these characters can do is whine and complain about how unfair their lives are? It's almost like they consciously resist taking an active role in this movie because it might be interesting for a change. Can't they find Skrulls? Androids? Anything? Instead the movie just rehashes old sequences from the last movie, and nothing happened in that movie either! Instead of a fire truck they rescue a Ferris wheel. There's also a chase scene where the Human Torch pursues the Silver Surfer across the globe, and it'd be impressive if the entire scene hadn't already been spliced into the trailer because it's the only part of the movie that's new or interesting.
The neutered movie version of Doctor Doom returns as well, as the movie lacks a true villain. Galactus, being a giant space-sphincter isn't exactly much of a nemesis, so Doom is tapped to antagonize the Four. The scarred Latverian confronts the Surfer in an attempt to take his cosmic surfboard and gets mystically bitch-slapped through a glacier. Somehow this has the side effect of curing him completely of all his physical ailments. Don't ask me how getting cold-cocked by a Herald of Galactus makes you feel better, but I guess it has something to do with them not wanting to put hours of prosthetic scar makeup on him for every scene. But that's why Doctor Doom has a mask, so I've refuted my own argument and officially have no idea.
I find it hilarious that the only reason for his return is the desperate need for this movie to have a villain. Even in the first movie there was no reason for Doom to be evil other than plot convenience. Does anyone remember why he attacked the Fantastic Four in the first place? It doesn't help that Julian McMahon plays him as the most smug, petulant, moustache-twirling dork since Commander Kalgon from Space Mutiny. It barely matters that he had any lines in the script at all; you could have replaced them all with "BWUH HA HA HA HA!" and you would have had a character with the same depth. And oh yes, the U.S. government immediately employs Doom to help combat the Surfer, handing total control of the operation over to him without ever suspecting that he might double-cross everyone for his own gain. Not even Tony Stark was this blissfully ignorant when he handed control of the Thunderbolts over to a medicated Norman Osborn.
Even the usual requisite Stan Lee cameo, once an amusing diversion makes me want to hurt kittens. Remember Spider-Man 3 when I said that Stan might as well have been standing on the street corner shouting "Hey everyone, I'm Stan Lee!" Well in Fantastic Four, that's exactly what he does, as if the name Stan Lee is supposed to mean anything to Reed Richards. The Fantasticar is manufactured by Dodge. Dodge?? The day that Dodge unveils a flying car at its dealerships, I'll accept that. Johnny Storm covering his suit in NASCAR-style product patches was less-blatant than this, and that subplot was a waste of time as well. Reed Richards is the smartest man on the planet. He's invented half the high-technology on the planet! The Fantastic Four has never been hurting for finances. (You can tell Reed is super-smart because he has a book entitled "Electrical Engineering" on his desk!)
What was so complex about four guys whomping on a giant purple man that Tim Story couldn't deliver? We're willing to hinge our disbelief on a story about a man who can burst into flames at will, a man made of orange rock, and Jessica Alba as an astrophysicist because she wears glasses, yet they change Galactus because his hat is absurd.
Sequels are inevitable. I've no doubt of it. I don't know how they'll make one even worse than this, but they will. But one day there will come a real rain that'll wash the scum off these streets. Listen up you fanboys, you screwheads: here is a man who would not take it anymore. A man who stood up against the Ghost Rider, The Quest for Peace, The Punisher, Daredevil and Elektra. Here is a man who stood up. Demand more. You deserve better. Fantastic Four is crap.