From far beyond the solar system a force is approaching and its herald goes before it, shooting across the inky void like a comet. On Earth, the herald's destination, the people are unsuspecting that there is unimaginable threat on its way, although they might get an idea when the surfing figure flies over the surface of the planet, freezing a sea, turning Giza into a snowscape and blacking out large areas of the United States in a power cut. Only one team will be able to match this menace, but at the moment the Fantastic Four are more concerned with the upcoming nuptials of Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) and Sue Storm (Jessica Alba)...
Although naturally a supervillain is just the thing to put paid to any wedding plans, as they have a habit of this kind of behaviour. Rise of the Silver Surfer was the sequel to 2005's Fantastic Four movie, with more comic book fan baiting than ever before as the title character was adapted in a noble but less charismatic - less cosmic, even - incarnation than its source would allow. In fact all that introspection and soul searching would have been out of place in a film that, like its predecessor, was more taken with bright, shiny objects than depth of feeling.
The main cast of the first movie returned, including the supposedly vanquished Doctor Doom (Julian McMahon) who has taken an acetylene torch to his metallic outer shell so that the actor doesn't have to be caked in makeup for the whole of his appearance. There might be plot reason for it too, but it escapes me. Back along with Gruffudd and Alba are the humorously anatagonistic Human Torch (Chris Evans) and The Thing (Michael Chiklis), apparently over his agonising from before about his rocky visage. In their lightly sketched manner, the quartet make a believable enough team.
Each of them has their own personal crises to contend with, with Reed and Sue having a relationship problem that will be easily solved before the final reel (will they give up their superhero existence to settle down?). Sue's brother Johnny is concerned with settling down as well, but worries he is too shallow (i.e. obnoxious) to find that special lady while Ben Grimm has already found someone (Kerry Washington) who doesn't mind what he looks like due to her being blind. I don't know what that's supposed to say about him, but there you go.
There's a danger that the personal stuff can overtake the saving the world stuff, but director Tim Story and his writers Don Payne and Twin Peaks man Mark Frost strike a fine balance. This does mean that the dliemma of the Silver Surfer's portent of global doom (not that Doom) is brought down to the level of the bumps in Reed and Sue's romantic road, but the action is more expansive this time around which is to the film's benefit. The planet eating entity (never named, but fans will know who he is) only makes his presence felt in the last half hour, and for a second division blockbuster this is short, but Rise of the Silver Surfer has no pretentions other than to provide amusement and spectacle, and in that area it succeeds, if not excels. Music by John Ottman.