The rule for big screen comic book series seems to be that the second film is the best (see Spider-Man 2, X2, Superman II). But while Rise Of The Silver Surfer offers a shiny promise of spin-off potential in the Silver Surfer, it comes in on a par with its predecessor. The film, which casually mingles heroes' personal problems with the threat of global annihilation courtesy of an intergalactic planet-eater, rides on the crest of sense-slurping effects, but at times, it loses sight of the original's sense of fun.
Life is complicated for the Fantastic Four; they've come to terms with their superpowers, but struggle with the accompanying fame and responsibility. The Thing (Michael Chiklis) might have found his rock in girlfriend Alicia (Kerry Washington), but Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba) and Mr Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd) are in knots over their impending wedding, and the Flaming Torch (Chris Evans) is getting hot under the relationship collar. That is before massive craters appear across the planet, created by a mysterious "Silver Surfer", in preparation for the arrival of the planet-devouring Galactus. Throw in a regenerated Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon), intent on stealing the Surfer's limitless powers, and you have ample excuse for repeatedly blowing stuff up.
"DAZZLING GLOBE-SKIPPING, LANDMARK-BASHING ACTION"
Thankfully, this film excels at blowing stuff up. The sketchy characterisation and kiddie-friendly slapstick are ably papered over with dazzling set pieces of globe-skipping, landmark-bashing action. And while it's pretty difficult to take any surfer seriously, the Silver Surfer, his story, and the mayhem he wreaks all feel solid enough. But where recent comic book sequels have successfully mixed thrills with good character development, Rise Of The Silver Surfer gets by quite well on looks alone.
Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer is released in UK cinemas on Friday 15th June 2007.