Yeah, That’s Just Fantastic

Hang ten and embrace the idiocyThe problems I have with “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” are more or less the same ones I had with “X-Men: The Last Stand“. Both films have been made by directors who don’t respect the simplest rules of filmmaking, and have no time at all for the complicated mythology of the franchises they’ve been handed.

Now, I don’t necessarily mean the comic-book mythologies, although they mess with those, too; these movies are contradicting their predecessors, and even themselves, as they go along.

Ratner’s “X-Men” movie retconned the previous instalments to set up an alternate explanation for Jean Grey’s slide into Dark Phoenix, seriously affecting the character of Charles Xavier along the way and killing poor, undervalued Scott Summers so off-handedly that the other characters didn’t even notice at first.

“Rise of the Silver Surfer” isn’t quite so radical, but it has what can only be described as a contempt for its own continuity: So what if we never see Johnny return Reed’s powers after one of their switches? So what if Stan Lee turns up as himself when he played Willie Lumpkin, the FF’s mailman, in the previous picture? So what if Hong Kong appears to be part of mainland China? It’s a comic book! And hey, isn’t the planet-devouring cloud thingie — the menace formerly known as Galactus — cool?

Well, yeah, it is cool. But it’s not Galactus any more; the movie doesn’t even let the FF refer to it by that name. The Surfer delivers some fudgy bit of dialogue — “it is known by many names; my people call it Galactus” — that lets the rest of the movie call it “The Destroyer”, a silly device that basically tells me one of the producers was embarrassed by the material, and demanded the change.

But here’s the thing: You can’t make a superhero movie without embracing your subject, and firmly situating your film within said superhero’s universe. And the Fantastic Four live in a universe where some pretty grandiose silliness goes down on a fairly regular basis. If that seems beneath you, well, find another universe, you know?

Oh, and find a better director. Tim Story is a hack.