Father's Day weekend was spent in movie theaters--not the best of situations, but certainly one that has its advantages.
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is typical fare for a comic book movie. It has all the depth and emotional appeal of a comic book, and all of the fascination with the impossible, outr&eaucte;, and bizarre. By far and away better than its predecessor, Rise of the Silver Surfer gives us in all its unalloyed oddity, the story of the Herald of Galactus and his arrival on Earth. Interestingly, Galactus is morphed from a person having shape and form into an intergalactic devourer of planets. Nice.
High points include (of course) the sky surfing and Johnny's "flame on" pursuit of the surfer early on to the draining of the River Thames. (An interesting possibility given its tidal nature.)
What I won't tell you, because you can guess, is whether Sue and Reed actually manage to tie the knot. The "demise" of Von Doom and of the surger himself, leave this movie open to a sequel. Given that this one is better by far than the first, that bodes well. What the producers did right in this case is kept the movie svelte. As a result there is a punch that many other such films, more larded and angst-ridden, lack. Surfing in at just about an hour and a half, this is one of those rare pleasures, a movie that moves quickly and leaves you wanting more even though your a satisfied with the roller coaster ride you've just experienced.
Highly recommended for older children (seemed fine for Sam, despite some mild sexual innuendo) and adults. May be too intense for younger or more sensitive children (scary earth-devouring things).
On the other hand, the second surf movie of the weekend Surf's Up, was an animation delight. Entirely unexpected, and therefore even more delightful, this story of the importance of friendship and of doing what is right as opposed to what makes you win, is a wonderful parable.
Filmed as a documentary of the world Penguin surfing championship, it starts with the recruitment of our lead character Cody Maverick, from his Antarctic home. We see him fall in love, develop a close friendship with a flaky chicken who introduces everyone to "Squid on a stick," an ultimately enter and . . . well, that would be telling.
The delights of this movie are its charming jokes, its deadpan documentary delivery, the remarkable voice cast, and the dead-on portrayal of certain aspects of the surf culture.. But its heart is the gentling and much-needed message that winning isn't the only thing, nor is it even the most important thing. In giving this message a real home and a real substance to children, the filmmakers give us all a great gift.
High recommended for all older children (8-up) and adults. And make certain you stay through the credits roll.