Superhero fans have got it made these days: You want dark and gloomy, you head for the newest Batman movie. You crave earnest and wholesome, you pick one of the three Spider-Man flicks. Whatever mood you happen to be in, there's now a superhero movie (or series) to pick through: Hulk, Daredevil, Hellboy, Superman, Ghost Rider, you name it. Just about all the classic superheroes are now available in cinematic form, some good and some bad, some "dark and gloomy" and others all "touchy feely" ... but where's the "family friendly" superhero movie? The one that doesn't deal with tortured psyches, metaphysical angst or some form of anguished misery? Well heck, here's one: It's called Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and while it's often a pretty goofy little movie, it's also a perfect flick for young dads and their 9-year-old sons.
To call FF2 an improvement over its predecessor would be damning the sequel with faint praise. Aside from a few editorial missteps and a leading lady who still couldn't act warm if you set her hair on fire, there's quite a lot to enjoy in Fantastic Four 2: The actors seem a lot more comfortable with their strange roles, the jokey material is a lot less dorky, and (best of all) the sequel has an actual STORY that's both cohesive and surprisingly compelling. Sometimes it's OK to enjoy a mindless piece of popcorn escapism, one that's as broadly silly as it is colorfully exciting -- and maybe it's just a case of "lowered expectations" (seeing as how I didn't much care for the first FF entry) -- but there's something strangely infectious about the Fantastic Four sequel. (Plus, the flick clocks in at 91 minutes and is firmly PG-rated, which should be double good news for the movie-hoppin' parents out there.)