Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
The Fantastic Four return during a year dominated with sequels and triquels, and seeing as we're talking about numbers, this time they are also minus a 13... as in PG-13. The original movie released with the more restrictive US rating, but obviously a decision has been made to turn this franchise into something more fitting of a good ol' fashioned adventure matinee. While diehard fans of the series may be disappointed (for instance, this time Jessica Alba's character doesn't have to doff her clothes to turn invisible), it's great to discover an action adventure that is far more family friendly than most.
This time the group is faced with global destruction when a mysterious force known as Galactus drops by for a visit via his henchman -- a silver surfer dude. After he punches huge holes in the planet's surface, the US military is suspicious something real bad is going to happen.
But General Hager's (Andre Braugher) request to Professor Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) for help is met with a polite, "No thanks." The Professor explains he has plans for the weekend -- namely his wedding to Sue Storm (Jessica Alba), the one female in the quartet. With Sue's flaming brother Johnny (Chris Evans) and rock bodied friend Ben (Michael Chiklis) supporting the notion that love comes before military requests, it seems the General has been put on hold.
Thankfully for the rest of us Earthlings, Professor Richards turns out to be a true workaholic, so he somehow manages to squeeze in the time to build the high-tech sensor the military needs. And that proves to be fortuitous when the wave rider from space makes a splash at the nuptials, littering the event with destruction and crashing helicopters. Now forced to focus on the job at hand, the team faces an enemy so powerful they have no other choice but to work with their former enemy Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon) -- who was supposed to be dead at the end of the last movie.
While not the most compelling story to hit the screen, this adventure is packed with the typical obstacles facing movie superheroes and multiple opportunities for innocent civilians to find themselves just a hair's width away from doom and destruction. For the most part the violence involves wide vistas of crumbling cities and mountains, however there are times when the PG rating is pushed -- like when half of a man's body is literally blown to bits and we see his dead corpse. Images like this may make the movie a little too much for the young audiences. Other content concerns include a handful of minor curses, a couple of rude anatomical terms and some veiled sexual innuendo (usually in reference to married relationships).
Perhaps the "cherry on top" for family viewing is a strong message about the ability of each of us to make good choices no matter what the circumstances. Toss in some theater-rocking explosions and action that walks a careful line between child-friendly and exciting, and this movie qualifies as being particularly fantastic four 'tweens and teens.