Back for the sequel are Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, Chris Evans as Johnny Storm/Human Torch, Jessica Alba as Sue Storm/Invisible Woman, and Michael Chicklis as Ben Grimm/The Thing. Also, Julian McMahon as their nemesis Victor Von Doom and Kerry Washington as Ben's blind girlfriend Alicia Masters.
The Silver Surfer is played by Doug Jones, whose freakishly thin body, double-jointed legs, and training as a mime and contortionist have made him a legend in science-fiction and horror films. I first saw him as The Gentleman in the Emmy-nominated "Hush" episode of Buffy the Vampire-Slayer. The sight of him and the other Gentlemen drifting down a darkened street, six inches off the ground, with frozen smiles on their faces and a coterie of followers in straight-jackets shambling along beside them is not easily forgotten. He played a demonic ice-cream-man in Legion, the reptilian alien General Cochise in Falling Skies, and Commander Saru in Star Trek Discovery. He has been in twenty-five movies, five of them for Guillermo del Toro, as a kind of human-shaped cockroach called Long John 2 in Mimic, The Faun and The Pale Man in Pan's Labyrinth, Abe Sapien in the Hellboy films, and the Amphibian Man in the Oscar-winning Shape of Water.
The movie is based on what is called the Galactus Trilogy--Fantastic Four #48-50--which appeared in 1966. The attempt was to create the ultimate super-villain, who is able to consume the energy of an entire planet. In a later comic, we learn that Galactus was born in a previous universe, died in the big bang that created our universe, slept for billions of years and awoke with an insatiable hunger for planets. The Silver Surfer is his scout, who is checking out the planet Earth in preparation for the coming of Galactus. The Surfer got his own comic in 1968.
We open hot on the destruction of a planet. What appears to be a comet leaves the scene of destruction and crosses space to arrive at Earth. The Sea of Japan freezes solid as it passes overhead, snow falls on the Pyramids, bizarre anomalies pop up all over the world and the comet, passing over Latveria, frees Doctor Doom from stasis. But New York is buzzing about the upcoming marriage of Reed Richards and Sue Storm, though Johnny Storm is most excited about the bachelor party. General Hager (Andre Brauer) has arrived at the Baxter Building, wanting to be taken to see Mr. Fantastic, who is at the party. As they walk in, Reed is proving--no surprise!--that he is an amazingly flexible dancer, though Sue is not terribly impressed. The Military is worried about the anomalies and ask for Reed's help. Dr. Doom is also monitoring the anomalies.
During the wedding, the anomaly passes overhead and all power is lost in New York. A helicopter literally crashes the wedding, and the Four have to stop it. The Torch pursues the comet, which of course is the Silver Surfer, who easily defeats the Torch and knocks him out of the sky, nearly killing him. Back home afterwards, when Sue touches Johnny, she flames on. When he shouts, "Flame on!" he becomes invisible. When he touches Ben, he turns to stone and Ben bursts into flame. It takes a while for them to stop arguing and sort this out. Meanwhile, Doom offers to join up with the Surfer and is rebuffed. Reed discovers that every planet the Surfer has touched is now lifeless. They track him to London just in time to save people from the collapsing Eye Ferris wheel. But the River Thames is a desert. The Military calls in Doom and the Four have to work with him.
They set out to trap the Surfer by separating him from his board. Of course, the Military screws it up. Of course Von Doom wants to use the board for his own purposes. Of course the alien faces torturous experimentation at the hands of the Military. Of course, the Four want to save him. He begins to trust them and they learn about Galactus, the Destroyer of Worlds. There are great explosions, cool gadgets, dumb jokes, desperate battles in the exotic places of the Earth, with the literal end of the world in the offing. It's a Marvel Movie.
My only disappointment is not to see Galactus as I saw him in the double-page picture in the comic: a thirty-foot tall humanoid in something like Roman battle-armour, an Aztec headpiece, and a big letter G on his chest, which stands either for Galactus or God. Too subtle? But in the movie we see him as a hurricane-like storm with a vague shape inside reaching for the Earth, which is pretty impressive on the big screen, so I'm not that disappointed. In 2015, there was a re-make of the Fantastic Four which most fans agree was unnecessary, boring, and disrespectful of the original story. I will not be reviewing this movie.