Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Ioan Gruffudd, Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba, and Chris Evans star in a film written Don Payne and Mark Frost and directed by Tim Story.

It’s hard to believe the second installment of this underachieving series adaptation of Marvel’s 1960s flagship comic could be even more forgettable than its predecessor-but it is. This film slips out of your mind while you watch it. Director Tim (Barbershop) Story instinctually knew this, too. When the gang piles into the supercar that Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) built, instead of letting fans enjoy the moment, he has Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis) reiterate the story thus far like one of those television cliched “previously on Fantastic Four” moments.

Worse is the stodgy pace with which Story tells his story. In the opening scene when the marriage between Reed and Sue Storm (Jessica Alba, in a different hairdo every three minutes) gets upset by the Silver Surfer, the resulting special effects chase through Manhattan takes 35 minutes to complete. This is the kind of hobbling narrative technique perfected in comics, all right: Mary Worth, say, or Rex Morgan, MD.

The Surfer is played with stoic perfection by the great Doug Jones whom you may remember from such Guillermo del Toro films as Pan’s Labyrinth and the under-appreciated classic Hellboy. This is a great fall for him. He’s a cosmic warrior in a field of creampuffs, and why he’d want to save anybody but Alba is the only fantastic element in this childish bore.


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