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Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Look up in the sky: It's a bird! It's a plane! No, it's a giant silver eunuch on a radioactive surfboard! That's more or less the gist of this mercifully brief sequel to 2005's surprise hit about that other band of Marvel mutants, here joined by the eponymous big kahuna, who at first appears villainous but turns out to be the enslaved liege of an amorphous intergalactic baddie known as the Devourer of Worlds. As before, it's tough to know how much of the movie's hambone acting, Saturday-morning-cartoon dialogue, and pubescent sexual innuendo is accidental and how much is by design. Still, it all lends Fantastic Four: ROTSS an agreeable, sugar-coated goofiness for the first reel or so, as erstwhile scientist Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd) and the Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba) prep for their long-delayed nuptials amid Paris Hilton levels of media scrutiny. Then the climate-altering, blackout-causing Surfer descends from the heavens and turns the marriage of the century into the biggest wedding-day debacle since the Moldavian massacre at the end of Dynasty season five. After which, it's pretty by-the-numbers superhero stuff, replete with the now-requisite allusions to 9/11 (U.S. military rushing to destroy the "foreign" invader), Abu Ghraib (the Surfer interrogated within an inch of his life), and, yes, even global warming. The script, credited to Twin Peaks cocreator Mark Frost and longtime Simpsons writer Don Payne, unsuccessfully strives for hipster irreverence, while one gag line about how the Promethean Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) gets his rocks off is enough to make you, um, gag.

 
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