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Discuss this week's Joe Loves Crappy Movies here!

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Love crappy movies but are too ashamed to admit it? Are you a big Rob Schneider fan but you're tired of being burned? Not sure if you want to waste your money on the same old movie? That's why you have Joe.

Joe Loves Crappy Movies is by Joseph Dunn. Joe willingly goes to see the very worst that Hollywood has to offer. Whenever a crappy movie comes out Joe will be there to see it, make fun of it, and actually review it. Nothing is safe, and nothing is sacred. From the big budget action disasters to the low brow fart based comedies, to anything starring Martin Lawrence? Joe will tear it apart.

With each entry you'll get not only a comic poking fun at the movie, but also a detailed review. Joe's not educated in film or cinematography or acting, he's just a guy that draws comics and likes movies. So if you're looking for the everyman perspective and a little joke in comic form... you're in the right place.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington, Andre Braugher, Doug Jones, Laurence Fishburne, Beau Garrett, Brian Posehn

Directed by: Tim Story

20th Century Fox

Official Site of the Movie

Discuss Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer on the boards!

Since this is a DVD review there are spoilers ahead. Sorry, gang. That's just how it works.

Way back in June, after a long day of work pushing books at Wizard World Philly, some friends and I eagerly set off to meet up with some folks to bask in the glowing beauty of Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Ok, it was decidedly less optimistic than of made it out to be. Despite an incredible Torch-chases-Surfer teaser trailer and our undying love and respect for the source material, we were careful to keep our expectations low. The sting of the original Fantastic Four movie would not be forgotten so easily.

I actually don't hate the first movie even with all its flaws, but I don't love it either. And I should. Fantastic Four was my book back in the day! I was all about the larger-than-life, save-the-universe, space adventures with characters that felt real despite their extraordinary abilities. I was primed to love this franchise. But they haven't made it easy on me. They haven't made it easy on any of us that thirst for a full-length movie as vibrant and exciting as that 3-minuet chase scene. Maybe everyone should get a surfboard in the third movie.

Keeping my expectations low proved to work out great for me as I found this latest adventure to be flawed, but for the most part fast, fun and exciting. Just like the comics. They'd taken their clumsy introduction and followed it up with an adventure worthy of America's favorite superhero family. Of course - No one agreed with me.

Scientific nitpicking, visual hiccups, underdeveloped evil-doers, not to mention Doom on a surf board, were the popular points being slammed by my friends in the theatre lobby that night. The general feeling was that they had matched but not exceeded the unimpressive first effort. And it's not like this was a group of hardcore comic purists. Ok, half of us were, but the other half were people watching the movie objectively, judging it on its own merits and not how closely it matched the source material in the comics. Though they did have plenty of questions for us about the board being the source of the Surfer's power and how Galactus normally devours worlds. In the chaos I managed to whimper out an, "It's not so bad." but it was a wasted effort. I was in the minority when it came to liking this movie.

And honestly I didn't feel like it was my job to defend it because while I did like it, Rise of the Silver Surfer is not a perfect film. There are holes that are never explained. Little things get lost in the shuffle like why Reed's normal clothes can stretch and how Doom was cured and awakened from his boxed-up, statuesque slumber. Courtesy of director Tim Story's DVD commentary it's implied that Reed has experimented with the cosmic molecules that gave them their powers, and made clothes that adapt to their individual gifts. Doom's awakening is credited to the Surfer flying by his castle. Something that caused similar unexplained results at other locations earlier in the film. Makes sense. The Surfer's power are undefined so it's not too "out there" to expect that the energy he’s giving off could revive Doom, but we shouldn't need a DVD audio track to explain it to us. And while we probably could have speculated it to death and figured it out on our own, it's the little things like this that more often than not get under my skin and ruin the movie.

But that's nit picking. In the long run it's forgivable. There were more pressing problems to debate. Things like Doom's master plan to surf his way into control, the power switching of the Fantastic Four, and Galactus being a cloud of smoke stirred up message boards in all the geekiest corners of the Internet.

Doom on the board and the power switching? Ok, it seemed weird at the time, I admit that, but after a few minutes I really embraced the idea. Mainly because, in the comics, stuff like this happens ALL THE TIME. Doom is straight up crazy and he's always pulling the wildest stunts to take out Reed. And the FF are constantly facing extreme obstacles like this that test them to the fullest and make them work in creative ways. This is what the book is all about!

Fans of the comic will tell you that Johnny taking on all the powers at the end wastes the opportunity of using a great villain in the Super Skrull, an alien shape shifter with all the powers of the Fantastic Four. Screenwriter Don Payne echoes this concern in one of the two commentary tracks, but it's not like they don't have a stable of other greats to confront. Plus it's not like Doom won't be back for the next round either.

As for Galactus… Well, at least they told us early. Going in expecting him to be a big space cough was good because otherwise there would have been some sort of nerd uprising. They gave us time to get used to the idea. We knew not to expect the giant humanoid setting up his big earth-eating machine. On the plus side, the cloud looked pretty badass. As it approaches and begins to engulf Earth, its scale is visually amazing. In retrospect it's a much better visual than a big man with a pointy purple hat.

In his commentary Story points to shapes in the cloud that imply there is something there. Beneath the dust and debris lies something of substance and they wisely left it out because of one reason - The Silver Surfer. When they began working on FF2 there were immediate plans for a spin-off featuring the Surfer. You can't have a Silver Surfer movie without Galactus, and they have to have something of the character to reveal. Rise of the Silver Surfer did well enough where a third FF movie and a Silver Surfer solo outing are likely. And I'm anxious to see where they take each.

All of this stuff I can forgive. It's fun and more importantly - it works. The things that still bother me after watching it 3 times are the dance sequence (they still haven't nailed Mr. Fantastic powers visually) and the love triangle between Reed, Sue and the Surfer. "You remind me of her…" says the Surfer as he bonds with Sue. Nothing would come of his wistful flirting of course, but it seemed like a stretch they didn't really need. Can't their bond be strong just because she's a nice person?

Even though there's been little progress on making Mr. Fantastic look cool, everything else is visually top notch. A combination of computer generated and practical effects make for a very pretty picture, my favorite of which has got to be the Human Torch. They really brought his character to life and I feel like a kid watching him streak through the sky with a trail of flame behind him.

The majority of the money is clearly put into the Surfer who is simply perfect. They couldn't have captured him any better, and who'd of thought they could capture a naked silver man surfing through space at all? So much debate was put on the voice acting of Laurence Fishburne who was dubbed in over Doug Jones who got painted up to play the Surfer on screen. There are a lot of Doug Jones fans out there that think his full performance should have made the cut. He has of course been famously passed over in the past by David Hyde Pierce as Abe Sapien in Hellboy.

I can understand why you might be upset, but for me it's hard to complain about something that works. Fishburne's performance gives the character a lot of quiet wisdom and peace, which I think is very fitting for a character that has been through so much and accepted his fate. I'm not saying Jones wouldn't have done a better job, and no ones arguing against his skills as a performer, but I can't find much in Fishburne's vocals to get upset about.

I think that that's part of the problem with a movie like Fantastic Four. We go into it looking for problems. And it's not like they're hard to find. They're definitely there, but are they really so bad?

Most of them I now find to be incidental. Minor changes from the comic so that a 90-minute movie makes sense. It's important that the story makes sense, and they don't have the benefit of 50 years of comics to set them up. They do have the first movie though and in terms of taking that intro and making an adventure that's exciting, fun and true to its source, Rise of the Silver Surfer is a success. Well… not completely, but this geek is pleased.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 - I'm completely wrapped up in this movie right now and I have a lot more to say, specifically about how well this movie captures the core four characters. I'm going to take advantage of the other comic I was working on back in June and do a second update where I can talk in depth about that. Be sure to come back this weekend to check it out.

A lot of fans might feel a little jaded by the liberties that were taken with these characters, but it could be worse. Can you imagine what Electra fans went through a few years ago? We got off easy. 7.5 may seem high, and I admit that I might have graded FF2 somewhat lower when I first saw it in theatres, but I've had time to get over it. The little things don't bother me anymore, and repeat viewings have proven to endear me to it far beyond what I would've expected. So I'm rating the movie as I see it now, not then, and I encourage you to do the same. It may take you slightly more than 3 viewings to get to a 7.5, but it could be worse. You could be trying to get Elektra up to a 4.

Though a review for Rise of the Silver Surfer never made its way to the site when the movie was originally released, The Fantastic Four are no strangers here. The first movie got not just one comic but a follow-up strip as well. Not to mention two guest strips form the great Brandon J. Carr and Mitch Clem (be sure to check out Mitch and Brandon’s killer work), and more recently a strip dedicated to that pesky Fantastic Four love triangle. So regardless of the quality of either movie, the Fantastic Four as a brand is loved and revered by Joe Loves Crappy Movies.

The 2-Disc The Power Cosmic Edition is pretty solid. There's the standard stuff but also a really strong collection of featuretts, two full-length commentaries and a few nice deleted scenes. One of which is a montage with Johnny and Ben running errands for the wedding. It's really great to see these two clowning around and goofing with each other. I've always found that to be one of the truer interpretations of the series, but so early in the film it just slows things down too much. You just want to get to the action.

What’s nice about the outtakes though is that they show where they would be laid into the movie as is. Seeing it in continuity is so much more satisfying than a randomly cut clip.

Stand outs

Normally I cover the best feature on the DVD (which would probably be the extensive making-of documentary entitled Family Bond) in this section but the thing that stood out the most for me on this collection was something negative. I can understand fans being torn over the movies quality, but what does it say when the creators are just as conflicted? In the second of two commentaries we're given an edited together version of thoughts from producer Avi Arad, screenwriter Don Payne and film editors Peter S. Elliot and William Hoy. I found all the information to be interesting, but Elliot and Hoy spend the majority of time giving off a very "We did the best we could with what we were given" attitude. You get the impression that they're friends really raked them over the coals for this one.

It was odd to go from Payne and Arad, who are clearly passionate about the movie, pointing out the positives and go to the editors bashing it. Almost as if they were ashamed of it. It's hard to say if that's really how they felt or if it was just the sting of months of hard work coming to the surface, but it brought me down.

DVD: 8 out of 10

It doesn’t look like much on the outside, a couple of deleted scenes, a couple of documentaries… but this is a really strong double disc set. The featurettes in particular are all really impressive with how far they went to cover the history and making of FF2. Everything from pre-production sketches on the Fantastic Car to creator interviews to Stan Lee's set visit to the creation of the Silver Surfer in comics and on screen is covered here. There seems to be an endless and impressive amount of content to geek out over.

So despite the mild negativity mentioned above that left me cold, I'm actually pretty content with this really sharp double disc set.

I am a comic book nerd. More specifically I’m a Fantastic Four nerd. We are a rare breed. The polished spandex and scientifically propelled storylines were never as appealing to the masses as the cool outcasts and antiheroes of the X-men books, and that’s cool. I can understand that. I read those books too. But there was always something unique and special about the Fantastic Four comics. They were almost a time capsule to a period where being a good guy and larger-that-life space adventures were still really cool things. Like it or not this sequel captures that same charm and nostalgia.

Because of that I had to run out and pick up Rise of the Silver Surfer when it was released on DVD earlier this week. To be fair though, my comic nerdiness has me buying most comic book themed movies when they come out. I’ve lost battles with Ghost Rider, Punisher and even Daredevil, so I see no reason not to add this little adventure to the list. Even with its faults, both in storytelling and adaptation from the source, FF2 is still loads of fun.

All right so what's with the hold up!? I know, this one took forever and it was probably the most requested comic of the summer. I got a slew of e-mails over the past few months asking if and when I would be doing something for Rise of the Silver Surfer.

I had always intended to do something though I admit the conventions of the summer got the better of me, and the comic I had begun for the movie was only just ok in my opinion. (You'll see it in a couple of days.) But when I saw that the DVD was being released, it lit a fire under me and I had to get my act together. I thought up the new joke, picked up the deluxe 2-disc set, and have watched through it three times now. It's been a fun few days.

In the long run, I'm glad I waited. Mostly because I think this joke is a lot more fun. It speaks more to the reaction of the movie than some generic reference, plus it's something that fans and non-fans can enjoy together. I may get a few raised eyebrows at my positive review, but you can't please everyone. And no one knows that better than the makers of The Fantastic Four 2.

In Tuesday's strip I pointed out two guest strips I had running for Muffin Time and Killjoy Comics. Be sure to check those out and show some love for the web comic community.

Also, be sure to keep checking out Brandon's new comic Weird Adventures in Unemployment. I won't be plugging this in every update but I wanted to make sure everyone knows about it. Even those who couldn't bare to get to the bottom of my Death Sentence review. I don't blame you for that, but I do blame you if you don't check out Brandon's new strip. Blame. BLAAAAMME!

Live Journal/Myspace/Rotten Tomatoes/Buzz Comix/Top Web Comics/Comics on the Ipod/The Webcomics List/Online Comics/Wikipedia/Comixpedia/JLCM Map!

Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - The Introduction

Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.

First Appearance - Fever Pitch

Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.

First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.

First Appearance - V for Vendetta

Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison

Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.

First Appearance - 300

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe

Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.

First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side

Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet

Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.

First Appearance - Four Brothers

Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.

First Appearance - Ultraviolet

Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth

Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.

First Appearance - The Producers

Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!

Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?

First Appearance - Saw IV

Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V

pimptour
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