Not so super duper

Second Fantastic Four installment is by the numbers

<i>VERY</i> HAPPY TOGETHER<br>What makes these four so fantastic? Those form-fitting costumes, of course.

What makes these four so fantastic? Those form-fitting costumes, of course.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis. Directed by Tim Story. Rated PG.
Rated 2.0

As superheroes in the Marvel canon go, the Fantastic Four were always pretty much the bottom feeders of geek cred. Seriously, an invisible woman, an elastic man, a human Zippo and a man made of rock?

The Fantastic Four get the franchise they deserve … with a script aimed directly at the fifth-grade-and-below demographic. Although, in this day and age, I’m not sure there are all that many fifth-graders who would be drawn to this material. Like I said, not much cred for even a 10-year-old. Although, a $54 million opening weekend says that there are a lot of people with fifth-grade minds operating heavy machinery these days, which explains the crunched metal interaction at the intersections.

The storyline is sentient enough to keep the target demographic from forgetting how to breathe: On the day of their big wedding, Sue Storm and Reed Richards are irritated to find that a big cosmic dust storm called Galactus has sent the Silver Server—er, Surfer—ahead of his arrival to set the dinner table. The meal being Earth. And so, everyone runs around bitchin’ and moanin’ about what an inconvenience it is being a superhero and having to drop everything the minute someone or something shows up wanting to destroy the planet. Dr. Doom drops by in his Emperor Palpatine costume and things are thrown around, other things blow up and then all the various issues are quickly resolved in order to make the wedding play out.

“What is wrong with you people?” asks a general at one point … which is a very good point: The world is about to end, and all they can do is squabble over silly things. Sue Storm spends the entire film throwing a fit because Galactus is ruining her wedding plans.

Rise of the Silver Surfer is what it is. The effects are functional, and the direction is static. Oddly enough, it seems framed and blocked as if trying to replicate the feel of a Saturday morning cartoon. Not exactly the wisest choice to bring out the best in master thespian Jessica Alba, who is rapidly reaching Michael Jackson scary. It didn’t help that there wasn’t even a bikini scene, because Alba is one of those vaguely sentient props that need to show a lot of skin to distract from the fact that they have no clue what their lines mean.