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Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer - The Power Cosmic Edition DVD Review

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer movie poster Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Theatrical Release: June 15, 2007 / Running Time: 92 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Tim Story

Cast: Ioan Gruffudd (Reed Richards), Jessica Alba (Sue Storm), Chris Evans (Johnny Storm), Michael Chiklis (Ben Grimm), Julian McMahon (Victor Von Doom), Kerry Washington (Alicia Masters), Andre Braugher (General Hager), Laurence Fishburne (Voice of the Silver Surfer), Doug Jones (Silver Surfer), Beau Garrett (Captain Raye), Brian Posehn (Wedding Minister), Zach Grenier (Mr. Sherman/Rafke), Dawn Chubai (Anchorwoman), Chris Gailus (Anchorman), Kevin McNulty (Baxter Building Doorman), Andy Stahl (Tailor), Debbie Timuss (Hot Party Girl #1), Moneca Delain (Hot Party Girl #2), Crystal Lowe (Hot Party Girl #3), Kenneth Welsh (Dr. Jeff Wagner), Vanessa Minnillo (Johnny's Wedding Date)

Buy from Amazon.com: 2-Disc Power Cosmic Edition DVD • Single-Disc DVD • Blu-ray • 2-Movie DVD Collection

2005's Fantastic Four movie wasn't a global phenomenon, but it made money, no small task for a film that cost a reported $100 million to produce. Between the moderate blockbuster status and the source material's vastness (more than 40 years of Marvel comic books), it was no huge surprise when, in October of 2005, 20th Century Fox announced plans for a sequel. Getting made about as fast as something of its size can be, the sequel in question -- Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer -- reached theaters just a shade under two years after the first film's opening.

Nearly the entirety of the original film was spent establishing the personalities of the Fantastic Four and each member's unique, newly-acquired superpower. This time around, there is more of a narrative plot, though it remains driven largely by the fun characters.
As the title makes abundantly clear, Rise of the Silver Surfer introduces the Silver Surfer, an ambiguous metallic man who flies around the galaxy on his potent surfboard. The Surfer had his print debut in 1966 as part of the 48th Fantastic Four comic book issue; his popularity and iconic nature quickly paved the way for a series of his own, which has been enjoyed in a number of incarnations.

Here, a series of global disturbances are traced by the Four's stretchy, intelligent leader Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) to the enigmatic Surfer. Just as Reed is preparing (yet again) to move with his sweetheart Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) from engagement to marriage, the bombastic General Hager (Andre Braugher) shows up, urging Reed to help the Army address the problem. Meanwhile, after a close run-in with the Surfer, Sue's combustible younger brother Johnny Storm (Chris Evans) begins experiencing some difficulties in living up to his nickname The Human Torch. Not only is Johnny's signature "flame on" move on the fritz, but touching any one of his fellow Fantastics results in an exchange of superpowers. Whether or not you buy into the "molecular" justification, there's fun to be had seeing Johnny turn into the massive pile of orange rock that The Thing a.k.a. Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) usually is, Sue acquiring her brother's airborne flammability, and so on. The gimmick doesn't get overused either.

The much-anticipated wedding of Sue Storm (Jessica Alba) and Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) gets interrupted, as they and the Minister (Brian Posehn) look up at the trouble above. Fire meets metal as the Silver Surfer puts the Human Torch in a chokehold.

Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon), the presumed dead foe of the Four's past outing, resurfaces and is enlisted by Hager to help in the matter, to the Four's understandable objections. The reflective, powerful, and enigmatic Surfer is led to Germany's Black Forest and then taken prisoner in Siberia. But, true to the comics, he is not the villain of the piece, for he's only doing the bidding of Galactus, the cosmic entity who's rendered here not as an armored giant but as dark clouds. With the fate of the Earth in question, twists, turns, and a climax follow, and, while fairly formulaic, the proceedings manage not to be by-the-numbers or clichιd in execution.

The first Fantastic Four film bucked some Hollywood trends that were in place for superhero movies this decade. Rather than running with angst, pathos, standout action sequences, and the occasional joke, it opted for a lighter, less moody tone with humor taking a prominent and central place. More trend-bucking is found in this sequel in areas where that rarely occurs. Rise of the Silver Surfer garnered a "PG" rating from the MPAA (to the dismay of outspoken violence-craving fanboys on various Internet boards) and it clocks in at a brisk 92 minutes. Compare those traits to the movie's big budget brethren, where practically anything expected to do business gets slapped with a "PG-13" (even the increasingly mature Harry Potter films) and where runtimes this summer often exceeded two hours and occasionally approached three.

The differences, however, are not the most noticeable. It's tough to figure out why this film is given the same classification as, say, Lilo & Stitch; there's still a steady sprinkling of tame profanity and action sequences aren't mild. At the same time, ignoring the ratings board's arbitrary standards, there's nothing here really to object exposing youngsters to and the lack of faux boundary-pushing is almost refreshing. As far as the length is concerned, Surfer benefits from its trim structure; there are no needless subplots or over-extended effects showcases, the lone "feared hero death" isn't lingered upon, and the pacing is fairly excellent. Striking a proper blend between comedy, drama, and action, the story is taut and compelling, in spite of a fundamentally flawed climax.

Upon touching The Thing, Johnny (Chris Evans) becomes rocky and somehow resembles Ted Danson. If not for the tail end of the last movie, you'd probably think Dr. Doom (Julian McMahon) was dead. But he's not. It's like "Premonition" all over again!

Rise is still a mixed bag on two fronts. The visual effects are erratic. In the Silver Surfer (performed by Doug Jones, voiced by Laurence Fishburne), you have a completely believable character who defines human limitations while being bolstered by all sorts of computer-generated applications. Yet, this same film falls flat when it tries to depict Mr. Fantastic's elasticity, consistently looking excessively cartoonish, outlandish, and as if the lighting/shading crew forgot to finish their work.
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CGI work today is so often dazzling that when something doesn't quite gel in a $130 M budget summer release, it stands out and that is the case here in a few places, mostly involving the Four's flexible white-templed head.

Another area that leaves a bit to be desired is the acting. Once again, Chris Evans gives a spirited performance as Johnny and he gets to do plenty, serving as more than young comic relief. Slightly reduced to the periphery, Michael Chiklis also seems perfectly comfortable in the role of tough-talking Thing. As Reed, Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd is sympathetic but not authoritative enough to avoid getting lost in the shuffle. The weakest link continues to be Jessica Alba, who, donning a blond wig and heavy blue eye shadow, moves further from Sue's comic appearance and doesn't justify the atypical casting with any real acting chops. The supporting cast lands more on the side of the good, with nice work coming from Julian McMahon, Andre Braugher, and "that guy" Brian Posehn in a limited role as the interrupted minister.

Seemingly skipping the commonplace double dip practice, Fox released Rise of the Silver Surfer to DVD yesterday in single-disc and two-disc versions. The latter, called The Power Cosmic Edition, is the subject of this review and its first disc seems identical to the single-disc version. The two editions differ in list price by just $5, but as usually is the case, consumers can expect to spend more than that to get the whole package, thanks to retailers' opting to more heavily discount the cheaper standard edition.

Buy Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - The Power Cosmic Edition 2-Disc DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen,
1.33:1 Reformatted Fullscreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English),
Dolby Surround (French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English, Spanish; Closed Captioned
Release Date: October 2, 2007
Two discs (DVD-10 & DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.98 (Reduced from $34.98)
Black Keepcase with Cardboard Slipcover
Also Available in Single-Disc (Flipper)
and 2-Movie Collection DVDs and on Blu-ray Disc

Get Fantastic Four products at the Official Shop of Marvel, MarvelShop.com!


Satisfying supporters of the two most commonly preferred viewing formats, Rise of the Silver Surfer makes it way to DVD in a flipper disc that provides both the movie's wide theatrical presentation (2.40:1, enhanced for 16x9 displays) and reformatted for the increasingly-outmoded 4x3 television sets. There is nary a flaw to be found in the picture quality of the widescreen version, which is what you'll want to watch if you care at all for seeing movies as they were intended.

Though DTS lovers will lament the lack of any option here, there is a perfectly fine Dolby Digital 5.1 track that is present here. Active and inspired, the sound mix regularly engulfs the viewers with the Silver Surfer's head-turning moves, John Ottman's ubiquitous score, and a steady flow of atmospheric effects. Such is the quality that dialogue feels as if it could be coming from within your very living room. In short, much like the picture, the sound is a crowd-pleaser.

Johnny showcases his Human Torch figure in an amusing deleted scene set at a Fantastic 4 Store. It wouldn't be a real Marvel movie without Stan Lee! The co-creator of the Fantastic Four drops by to film his cameo for the rooftop wedding scene. The Interactive Fantasticar feature is not so interactive.


Identical to the single-disc version sold on its own, Disc 1 serves up only two underwhelming audio commentaries in the way of special features. The first lets director Tim Story fly solo and he could use some company. There's his dry delivery and the increasing patches of dead air, but even more so the fact that though informative, his comments tend to be bland and limited.
Most remarks he makes either describe what's happening (at times, he reduces the track to narration) or how an effect was achieved. Few of Story's statements look at bigger themes or motivations; perhaps more time needs to pass for that. It's worth noting that he sounds certain there won't be a third movie.

The second commentary features producer and Marvel Studios CEO Avi Arad, writer Don Payne, and the film's two editors, Peter S. Elliot and William Hoy. Though the 4-member panel suggests a more lively track, the group dynamic is invalidated by the fact that Arad, Payne, and the editors are recorded in three separate sessions, having their remarks mixed together. If what we get is the best of each recording, I'm relieved Fox opted to merge them, since even combined it's still quite dull and sporadic. There are plenty of revelations made here, but the discussion -- an uneven mix of Arad's general observations with script and scene revision talk -- isn't better as background noise to multi-tasking than actively seeking out.

Bearing all the video bonuses, Disc 2 is divided into six sections. Somewhat surprising for such a trimly-cut major summer blockbuster, Extended & Deleted Scenes offers just five unused sequences (9:45). I suspect some deletions are being saved for the inevitable upgrade the movie will receive down the line. About half the material here can be considered part of alternate openings (including intergalactic credits) and all but one scene belongs in the early moments of the film. There's some fun stuff with Johnny at a Fan 4 Store and he and Ben helping to prepare for the wedding. The section offers an optional commentary from director Story, who, as on the feature commentary, sheds some light without sounding too excited.

The terrific fly-on-the-set documentary "Family Bonds: The Making of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" (46:15) follows. Devoting the first 18 minutes to pre-production and the next 28 to production (each is viewable separately), this fascinating supplement observes the summer-to-fall 2006 creation of a big budget blockbuster sequel. Though cast and crew do address the camera, the spur-of-the-moment thoughts are a welcome break from the more commonly-employed talking heads approach. Some may find merely being on the set and sweating the minutiae (like Tim Story choosing between barely-different colors for Doom's mask) less than scintillating, but I find the presentation to be candid, revealing, and insightful. For instance, it's easy to feel a part of the crew on the last day of shooting the climactic sequence, with time and money running out and snow unexpectedly falling. Don't miss it.

Next comes the Interactive Fantasticar, something that sounds more exciting than it is, which is exactly twelve different angles of looks at computer graphic renderings of the Four's flying vehicle.

For a piece that opts for more tell than show, visual effects featurette "The Power Cosmic" proves surprisingly compelling, thanks to John Kilkenny's cosmic speaking prowess. "Sentinel of the Spaceways", the longest bonus in the Featurettes section, gives us many looks at the Silver Surfer's career in comic books. In the amusing "Character Design with Spectral Motion", Michael Chiklis cracks wise while enduring his daily multi-hour serving of face make-up, complete with in-mouth glue, needed to portray The Thing.

Featurettes delivers five of what's promised. A little more interesting than you'd expect, "The Fantasticar: State of the Art" (10:35) details some features to the Four's newly-unveiled method of transportation and charts its development, from computerized design to production to functional set piece.

"The Power Cosmic" (15:08) covers the movie's visual effects, mostly dealing with the Silver Surfer.
John Kilkenny, Fox's Senior VP of VFX, proves to be a surprisingly compelling speaker as he discusses the challenges and achievements of production: from avoiding motion capture to blending CGI with live actors' performances to collaborating with WETA halfway around the globe. Those with an aversion to technical featurettes ought to give this fine one a chance.

The set's lone nod to the Four's storied past in print, "Sentinel of the Spaceways: Comic Book Origins of the Silver Surfer" (38:37) explores the Surfer's iconic debut in mid-'60s FF volumes and the various incarnations he's received since. Stan Lee and other industry figures comment on the character's nature and appearance, and we're also able to marvel at loads of panel artwork depicting the Surfer in action. Despite the considerable runtime, this remains intriguing even for a comic book ignoramus like myself.

Also surpassing title expectations is "Character Design with Spectral Motion" (11:30), which focuses on the enhanced costuming given to The Thing for Rise and captures, with copious sarcasm, some of the frustration Michael Chiklis must go through daily to portray such a heavily made-up character.

Rounding out the section, "Scoring the Fantastic" (4:35) turns the spotlight on composer John Ottman and his flexible orchestra, briefly framing the sequel from a unique musical perspective.

Concept art from the gallery visualizes the sequel's China-set climax. Observe the spinning vortex that is Disc 1's Main Menu It's Clobberin' Time on Disc 2's Deleted Scenes menu, which like other submenus, provides a standard, static, selection screen experience.

Three Still Galleries are provided: "Behind the Scenes" (25 images, most of Tim Story directing the costumed cast), "Characters" (45 publicity-friendly photos), and "Concept Art" (34 mood-evoking, mixed media works).

Trailers, the final section, kills at least two birds with one stone by preserving the always welcome trailers from the featured film and boosting the section with 7 mostly relevant promos for other Fox entities. We get both the teaser (1:36, tagged "coming to DVD") and full trailer for Rise of the Silver Surfer (2:02); original theatrical previews for predecessor Fantastic Four, all three X-Men movies, and holiday comedy Deck the Halls; and DVD promos for Jessica Alba's "Dark Angel": The Complete First Season and forthcoming direct-to-video feature Futurama: Bender's Big Score. It's worth noting that both sides of Disc 1 open with previews for The Simpsons Movie and Live Free or Die Hard.


Disc 1's Main Menu employs a lively intergalactic whirligig of effects and imagery from the film set to dramatic score. Silent, static, and much more conventional, the disc's submenus feature standard character press images. Disc 2's menus follow suit, with a busy main menu giving way to fine but workmanlike submenus.

The standard-width keepcase is housed in a cardboard slipcover, which differs only in the fact that the front cover art beneath it drops the title logo, "4" insignia, and edition name that adorn the Silver Surfer, presumably pleasing those who prefer understatement. There's no insert to be found inside the keepcase, which is unfortunate since Fox often produces some swell in-case booklets.

The Silver Surfer leans in for a closer look at Jessica Alba's blonde wig. The Fantastic Four: Johnny, Sue, Reed, and Ben try to figure things out in relaxed action.


Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer reaches about the same heights as its predecessor, providing a fun, breezy superhero flick in opposition to its moodier, weightier Marvel kin. More plot-oriented than the first film, Surfer does right by its moderately compelling story and continues to make good use of a mostly light tone and capitalize on the core characters' interesting powers. There are a few story missteps, the acting continues to be a mixed bag, a few effects fall short, and, on the whole, the proceedings can't be classified as great cinema. Still like the original outing, this one offers an entertaining time for those long fond of these characters and, perhaps even more so, for those who aren't.

If you plan on buying the movie, The Power Cosmic Edition is definitely the way to go. The single-disc's lackluster commentaries are offset by an outstanding documentary, five great featurettes, and a few other goodies worth checking out. If you enjoyed the first film, I can't imagine you not liking Surfer. If you didn't like the first film, go back and give that a second chance now that its fanboy backlash has died down. While neither Four movie threatens the Spider-Man series' status as cinema's currently reigning superhero king, they both supply high-spirited merriment that isn't overly common these days.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com:
2-Disc Power Cosmic Edition DVD / Single-Disc Flipper DVD / 2-Movie DVD Collection / Blu-ray

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Fantastic Four: Extended Edition • Fantastic Four: The Complete Animated Series • Ghost Rider
The Spectacular Spider-Man: The Complete First Season • The Incredibles • Spider-Man: The Venom Saga
The Tick vs. Season 1 • The Tick vs. Season 2 • Darkwing Duck: Volume 2 • Sky High • Epic Movie
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest • Space Ghost & Dino Boy: The Complete Series • Renaissance
Fox 2-Disc Sets: Night at the Museum: Special Edition • Big: Extended Edition • That Thing You Do!: Tom Hanks' Extended Cut

The Cast and Crew of Rise of the Silver Surfer:
Ioan Gruffudd: The TV Set • King Arthur | Jessica Alba: Sin City | Michael Chiklis: Spirited Away | Julian McMahon: Premonition
The voices of Chris Evans and Laurence Fishburne: TMNT | Doug Jones: Hocus Pocus | Kenneth Welsh: Miracle | Zach Grenier: Zodiac
Writer Mark Frost: The Greatest Game Ever Played

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Reviewed October 3, 2007.

Text copyright 2007 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2007 20th Century Fox and Marvel. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.