Less chinsy and cheesy than its predecessor, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer still is hardly a marvel of a comic book adaptation.
From director Tim Story, known also for Barbershop besides Fantastic Four, the comedic and production elements are more slickly honed, the latter thanks to special f/x supervisor Scott Squires. For many it could qualify as a guilty pleasure.
Juggling their profession and personal time is a chore for this attractive quartet. The marriage of Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd of Amazing Grace) and Sue Storm (Jessica Alba of Into the Blue and Sin City) can't go smoothly without a hitch. Johnny (Chris Evans of Cellular, the forthcoming Sunshine) isn't really intent on settling down and Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis, so good from F/X's "The Shield") is cranky with his "Thing" body made of orange-colored rock. That doesn't seem to bother his blind sculptress girlfriend, Alicia Masters, done by Kerry Washington, featured in Chris Rock's I Think I Love My Wife.
This installment hinges on the presence of the incredibly powerful Galactus heralded by a brightening person, character movement and references done by Doug Jones, so forceful in Pan's Labyrinth. The voice of the Silver Surfer is eloquently executed by Laurence Fishburne. And, the Fantastic Four may need to join forces with bitter foe Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon of Premonition) to avert global havoc.
The outset allows a light touch from colorful designing and joking, especially when it concerns corporate advertising and today's prodding paparazzi. The tame and the goofy allows for a little inneundo to sprout up before the portentiousness kicks in.
One may not expect that much from a script that is too elemental as much of the thrills depend on power transformation. But, it still is too scatterbrained, especially for someone like Andre Braugher, relegated to no-nonsense Gen. Hager, the point man assigned to bring in the lissome guy who glistens.
Stan Lee, the Marvel Comics aging master, is afforded another cameo after being a mailman in Fantastic Four. What looks like improvisition could be mistaken for cool as the cast, notably Evans and the exotic beauty Alba are more at ease with their roles. With some neat transportation and the surfer, who debuted in the comic book (#48) in 1966, along with dancing, there is much to admire in this popcorn movie which is most clever and averts more embarrssment by staying brief.