A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sequel to Fantastic Four is tamer than the original and much more tween-friendly. Like most superhero flicks, it includes loud, cartoonish violence -- but only two characters get seriously hurt or die. Most scenes involve crowds panicking as the Silver Surfer creates huge craters around the world. Unlike other conflicted superheroes, the Fantastic Four enjoy being of service, and everyone knows their true identities. There's some iffy language ("ass," "crap," "damn," etc.) and more innuendo than you might expect (characters talk about getting "hot," Johnny asks The Thing how he and his girlfriend "you know," and so on), but overall it's lighter and less complicated than similar comic book-based action films.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In the sequel FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER, wedding plans fall apart for Sue "Invisible Woman" Storm (Jessica Alba) and Reed "Mr. Fantastic" Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) when the Fantastic Four (who are rounded out by Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm/The Thing and Chris Evans as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch) are called in to help investigate a series of mysterious craters and blasts of radiation occurring throughout the world. Turns out those inexplicable incidents are the work of the Silver Surfer (body acting by Doug Jones, voice by Laurence Fishburne), who's prepping Earth for the cosmic, planet-eating Galactus to devour. As nemeses go, the Silver Surfer pales compared to Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon). After the Silver Surfer's arrival brings him back to life, he wants nothing more than to swipe the powerful board for his own selfish purposes. So the Fantastic Four has a clear mission: Stop Von Doom and convince the Surfer to defy Galactus.
Is it any good?
Let's get this out of the way: Yes, the sequel is much better than the original, which was universally panned. That doesn't mean that FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER reaches Spider-Man or Superman Returns heights -- but it also doesn't take itself as seriously. At 92 minutes, it's a short, easy-to-follow adventure that will amuse older kids without scaring younger ones.
There's no internal monologue, no introspective brooding a la Peter Parker or Kal-El. The foursome work together, live together, and do what's best for the common good -- well, except for Johnny, who sometimes lets his hubris get in the way. They also have fun doing what they do: Johnny even suggests that they attach sponsors' logos to their skin-tight uniforms, like racecar drivers. It's funny, and in today's celeb-obsessed society, quite believable that superheroes -- especially ones who look like Alba, Evans, and Gruffudd -- would get corporate endorsements, hounded by the paparazzi, and followed by the tabloids.
As a film series, the improved Fantastic Four looks poised for another outing. That might annoy hardcore fanboys, but it's just fine for families who don't mind their superhero mythology a little lighter and less intense.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this movie is similar to and different from other superhero films. What makes the Fantastic Four different from other superheroes? Do you like them better or worse than characters like Superman and Spider-Man? Why?
Discuss selflessness and responsibility. Sue tells the Silver Surfer that every being has a choice to do the right or wrong thing. Are there times when you're pressured to do something and feel there's no other choice?
What is the appeal of superhero movies? How does this one compare?
- In theaters: June 15, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: October 2, 2007
- Cast: Chris Evans, Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba
- Director: Tim Story
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: sequences of action violence, some mild language and innuendo.
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