Monday, June 18, 2007

Rise of the Fantastic Four

Half of the genius of the Marvel superhero movies at their best is that they re-create the tone and spirit of the original books. The X-Men series has captured the earnest drama of the comic books, with their constant undertone of discrimination against people who are different from most of the rest of us. The Spider-Man series has amazingly and spectacularly captured the spirit of the comics. Even the Hulk movie and, to a lesser extent, the Daredevil and Elektra films, have caught in the movie theater the thrill of sitting and reading the stories in four-color printed glory. And the first Fantastic Four movie captured the adventure of the superheroics along with the teamwork and the playful family interplay of the four main characters.

But with Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, this particular series has risen to the level of the wonderful X-Men and Spider-Man flicks, and, I would argue, gone them one better in one important aspect. It took me a little while to accept Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Hugh Jackman is the perfect Wolverine, and Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are downright awesome, but some of the other casting choices for the various X-Men are somewhat suspect.

Not so with the F.F. After two films, I can't imagine any other actors playing this crew than Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis and, yes, even Jessica Alba. These folks are Reed and Sue Richards, Johnny Storm and Benjamin J. Grimm. They remind me why, lo these 40 years ago, a teenage B.W. glommed onto every available issue of the World's Greatest Comics Magazine. They were friends, they were family and, despite adventures in the Negative Zone and outer space and ancient Egypt against preposterous world-killing menaces, they were real.

How they manage to accomplish this within the confines of the shortest Marvel movies of them all (89 minutes? To quote Mr. Storm, "Come on!") is nothing short of breathtaking. The distance the characters manage to travel in such a short time is remarkable.

A big thumb's up and a barrel of popcorn, heavy on the "butter flavoring," for Rise of the Silver Surfer. I gotta see this one again and again.

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Blogger Wally Conger said...

I've had trouble understanding the negativity dumped on this movie and its 2005 predecessor by so many Marvel Comics fans. IMHO, both of these films have seemed very faithful to the old Lee-Kirby spirit. Love 'em!

11:13 PM  

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