Speeding away from a dying planet somewhere in the cosmos, a silver streak called the Silver Surfer heads for earth where he immediately wreaks havoc on nature. Water off the coast of Japan freezes solid, snow blankets Egypt and giant craters appear across the surface of the planet.
Meanwhile the Fantastic Four – Reed Richards/Mr Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd), Sue Storm/Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba), Ben Grimm/the Thing (Michael Chiklis) and Johnny Storm/the Human Torch (Chris Evans) – are preoccupied with dodging the media and preparing for Reed and Sue’s wedding.
Their old enemy, Victor Von Doom/Dr Doom (Julian McMahon) who had supposedly died but was actually in suspended animation, has emerged with ideas of world domination. Dr Doom offers Silver Surfer an alliance, but the Silver Surfer refuses.
Alarmed by the strange phenomena occurring across the planet, General Hagar (Andre Braugher) asks Reed for assistance. The Fantastic Four fail in their attempts to track down the Silver Surfer, so General Hagar insists that they work together with Dr Doom. With assistance from Doom and the Fantastic Four, General Hagar’s army manages to disarm and capture the Silver Surfer whom they then imprison and torture.
Sue Storm discovers that the Silver Surfer is an unwilling servant of a world-devouring entity known as Galactus, and that only the Silver Surfer has the power to stop Galactus. At this poin, Dr Doom reveals his true colours by killing General Hagar and stealing the Silver Surfer’s board (his source of power). Doom believes the board will give him the power needed to rule the planet.
In the final climax, Galactus begins to consume the earth while challenged by Silver Surfer, and the Fantastic Four combine their powers to battle Dr Doom.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Aliens and the supernatural; torture; global destruction
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer contains stylised comic-book action violence and some slapstick violence. There are some scenes depicting more brutal violence and one scene depicting torture. Here are some examples of violence.
- Due to a power failure caused by the Silver Surfer, a helicopter goes out of control, crashing into dozens of wedding guests and endangering their lives.
- Johnny Storm (the Human Torch) chases the Silver Surfer, flying through the busy city streets and crashing through traffic. When Johnny catches up with the Silver Surfer, high above the ground, the Surfer strangles Johnny to unconsciousness and lets his body fall to the ground.
- Sue Storm traps Reed Richards in an invisible force field, causing Reed’s face to become squashed.
- Dr Doom shoots bolts of electricity into the Silver Surfer’s body. In retaliation, the Silver Surfer hurls Dr Doom through the air and into a wall of snow and ice.
- The giant craters formed by Silver Surfer cause buildings to fall apart and a giant Ferris wheel comes off its axle. In both disaters dozens of people are trapped.
- The Thing pushes Dr Doom through a wall then strangles him.
- Sue Storm verbally threatens Dr Doom, describing her ability to place a force field in a person’s body and then expand it until the body explodes.
- The army fires several rockets at Silver Surfer and Sue Storm. Silver Surfer's board is damaged by one of the rockets. He retaliates by blowing up some army vehicles. Soldiers and debris fly through the air.
- Silver Surfer is knocked unconscious when he falls off his board.
- Members of the army strap Silver Surfer to a table and torture him with electric shocks. This is followed by a suggestion to use intravenous drugs (a man holding a syringe is depicted) to force the Silver Surfer to talk.
- Dr Doom shoots bolts of electricity into General Hagar, knocking him against a wall. The General shoots back at Dr Doom with no physical effect. Dr Doom then blasts the General with a bolt of energy causing the General’s body to blow apart.
- Sue Storm uses her powers to create a force field that imprisons a group of soldiers.
- One scene depicts an battle in the sky between Dr Doom on the Silver Surfer’s board and the Fantastic Four in a flying vehicle. Dr Doom shoots bolts of electricity into a mountainside, causing part of the mountain to fall onto the Fantastic Four’s flying vehicle, which crashes to the ground.
- Dr Doom hurls a silver spear through Sue Storm's chest. Sue Storm dies from the injury, but is bought back to life by the Silver Surfer.
- Galactus, a giant vortex-like cloud, surrounds the earth and begins to suck up the planet surface.
- One scene depicts the Human Torch and Dr Doom in battle where they hurl flames and bolts of electricity at each other. The Human Torch wraps himself around Dr Doom, strangling him, and causing him to fall into the ocean.
- The Silver Surfer flies into the vortex of Galactus and then uses his abilities to destroy Galactus.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes described, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- Dr Doom wears an evil-looking metal mask, and we sometimes catch a glimpse of his heavily scarred face beneath the mask. At times he also wears a hooded cape, which makes him appear menacing and sinister. He fires bolts of electricity from his hands.
- One scene provides a brief glimpse of Dr Doom’s scarred flesh regenerating.
- The metallic robotic appearance of the Silver Surfer, who at times appears menacing and threatening, may scare some younger children.
- The Thing resembles a rock-like monster, and sometimes has an aggressive manner.
- Several action scenes involve exploding vehicles and buildings and people in dangerous situations.
- Sue Storm is speared through the chest and dies in Reed Richard’s arms.
- Galactus has a scary appearance resembling a planet-sized dark cloud with tentacles that reach out to probe and devour planets.
Younger children in this age group might also be scared or disturbed by the violence and scary images described above.
Children over 13 are unlikely to be disturbed by the scary images depicted in the film.
- Reed Richards stipulates that there are to be no exotic dancers at his bachelor party.
- Johnny Storm looks suggestively at a female soldier.
- Johnny Storm suggests that his dates need to wear fireproof lingerie.
- Johnny Storm makes numerous references to the Thing and his sexual relationship with girlfriend Alicia: ‘Just how do you and Alicia …?’ and ‘I can’t even think of a guy who wouldn’t want to …’ Johnny also jokes about the Thing waking up one morning and finding Alicia killed in a rockslide.
- Comparing her own party to Reed Richard’s bachelor party Sue Storm states, ‘That was nothing compared to what I did at my bachelorette party. That was wild’.
- During one scene, Reed Richards states that he is ‘engaged to the hottest woman on the planet’. Sue Storm responds, ‘I’m hot for you right now’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Apart from the threatened use of a syringe in the torture scene, there are no other scenes of concern.
Nudity and sexual activity
- In several scenes, couples – Thing and Alicia, Reed and Sue – kiss each other on the lips. Sue also kisses Reed on the neck and rubs his shoulders.
- In a couple of scenes, women are shown wearing short tight-fitting dresses with exposed backs and low-cut tops that reveal cleavage.
- During a nightclub scene, two women in short dresses with low-cut tops dance in a provocative manner with Reed Richards. Reed uses his elastic body to wrap his arms around the two women, pulling them in close against his body.
- In one scene, Sue Storm's clothing is burnt from her body and she lies naked on the sidewalk. Only her bare arms and legs are depicted.
None of concern
The film contains some low-level coarse language and put-downs.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a super hero action film based on Marvel comic books. The film targets a young male audience (8-15 years), although some of the films jokes are aimed at an older audience.
The story offers an opportunity to discuss some important issues including:
- an individual's right to free choice
- the right to have a family no matter how different you are
- the need to face up to responsibilities.
You can also discuss with your children the values of self-sacrifice, commitment, the advantage of group cooperation to defeat overwhelming odds, and willingness to communicate with, and show empathy towards, those who are different. You can also talk about the issue of torture and whether it is justified in any circumstances.