Michael Slezak
June 15, 2007 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Back in summer 2005, Fantastic Four got drubbed by critics but nonetheless scored a massive $56 million opening weekend. This weekend, its sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, attempts to keep the box-office fire alive, while perhaps reducing its dose of critical haterade. And while EW’s own Joshua Rich predicts Silver Surfer will open even stronger among ticketbuyers, a surprising number of critics around the country are liking it as well, dubbing the second installment of the Marvel Comics adaptation a vast improvement on the first. Be warned, however, that those who disliked Silver Surfer did so with epic intensity. But first, the good news!

Jack Mathews, New York Daily News: “The sequel is actually better — much better — than the original…. The story, and the characters, seem more comfortable on this outing…. The big improvements come in the action scenes.”

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: “Short, cheesy and to the point, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer has the same goofy tone, the same light touch as its predecessor.”

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: “The last one was awful, one of the worst movies of its year, while the new one is a pleasure, one of the most enjoyable pictures of the season. The last Fantastic Four was 106 minutes of water torture. The new one, instead of expanding in length, clocks in at a streamlined 92 minutes, but nothing about it seems truncated or small-scale.”

Rick Groen, Toronto Globe and Mail: “Deliberately or not, [the original Fantastic Four] drained the pomposity right out of the fantasy, leaving behind a bathtub ring of dirty fun, the very stuff that pulp dreams are made of…. And this second coming… well, it suffers from a slight case of sequel-itis… yet on the whole, enough of its innate modesty survives to earn this damn-with-faint-praise verdict: Unlike the recent spate of blackened threequels, those bottom-of-the-bag Spideys and Shreks and Pirates and Oceans, this kernel does pop. What’s more, when munched with the liquefied margarine of your lowered expectations, it can even be digested.”

addCredit(“Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer: Diyah Pera”)

Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter: “Maybe it has something to do with seriously diminished expectations, but Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is an improvement of sorts over the lifeless 2005 edition.”

Jack Garner, Gannett News Service:”I’ve got a prejudice against most movies based on comic-bookadventures. With a few exceptions, they take themselves too seriously,they’re humorless, the characters are two-dimensional, the films aretoo long and the plots are alternately silly or overly convoluted….So, I’m happy to report that Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer suffers from none of those flaws (except silliness, which is hard to avoid).”

Scott Bowles, USA Today: “Like the dreadful 2005 original, this Fantasticembraces its flyweight status: It’s cheesy, short and meant more forfamilies than fanboys. But this time, director Tim Story punches up thefilm with crisp writing, inside jokes for comic devotees and, mostimportant, a nemesis worth raving about in the Silver Surfer.”

And now, the bad!

Jan Stuart, Newsday: Don’t expect many acting nominations for Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.The titular weather-buster may be a CG-generated special effect, but hemanages to out-humanize all the performers around him. Ioan Gruffudd,Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis have returned for asecond go-round with their special powers intact, turning everythingthey say and touch into plastic.”

Bill Muller, The Arizona Republic:”Much like the first movie based on the Marvel comic, the sequel ismired in sophomoric humor and stilted dialogue that creaks like a100-year-old staircase. The film also suffers from a terminal case ofthe stupids. It’s as though every character has suffered a sharp blowto the head.”

Michael Sragow, Baltimore Sun: “What made Fantastic Foureffervescent was its amiable, satiric take on valor and catastrophe.But director Tim Story, who navigated that film to its lightheartedsuccess, loses his soft touch for the first half-hour of Rise of the Silver Surfer.”

Stephen Hunter, Washington Post:”The movie has too much plot, not enough sense, no personality, actionsequences that die wheezing and slobbering like an old dog, and nothingthat isn’t generic, stereotypical or without personality or vitality.”

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