Entry for June 27, 2007: FF2

Friends, I hope you've had a good fortnight. On Friday, 15 June 2007, Janice stayed home to supervise the installation of Verizon FiOS high-speed Internet, telephone, and cable television service. The good news is that we now have access to more channels and a better connection to the World Wide Web. The bad news is that we lost phone service for a week, although we were out of town for that time anyway.

On Saturday, June 16, Janice and I met my co-workers Brian F. and Ken G. for an early matinee of "Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer" at the AMC Framingham 16 near CW's offices. The latest Marvel superhero sequel was fairly entertaining, in keeping with the lighter, more family-friendly tone established by the first "FF" flick.

Ioan Gruffud (whom I first saw in the BBC/A&E's excellent adaptations of C.S. Forster's "Horatio Hornblower") seemed more relaxed as stretchy genius "Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic," whose engagement to "Susan Storm/Invisibile Woman" (played by "Dark Angel's" Jessica Alba) faces numerous obstacles. I'll try to avoid "spoilers" beyond what has been shown in commercials and trailers.

"The Shield's" Michael Chicklis continues to have good chemistry as "Ben Grimm/the Thing" with Chris Evans as "Johnny Storm/the Human Torch," especially in the scenes where they temporarily swap powers as a result of an encounter with the "Silver Surfer" (played by "Hellboy" and "Pan's Labyrinth's" Doug Jones and "The Matrix's" Laurence Fishbourne). The herald of planet-devouring Galactus never looked better.

Sure, Alba's blonde wig and blue contact lenses are distracting, and Chicklis is still a little short as the ever-lovin' Thing, but even "Charmed's" Julian McMahon is more convincing this time around as the megalomaniac "Doctor Victor von Doom."

Unlike the angst of "Spider-Man 3" or "Batman Begins," the cosmic comic book plot of "FF2" more closely reflects the four-color "Silver Age" writing and art of Stan Lee (also in a small cameo), Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko. Humor, the threat of global disaster, and a fast-paced script tread the narrow line between camp and solid superheroic action.

I'd give "FF2" a 7 or 8 out of 10, and I found it to be more satisfying a comic book adaptation than "Spidey 3," if not as adult as sword-and-sandals "300" or as spectacularly stylish as the recent computer-animated "Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles."

After the movie, Brian left for a Boston Red Sox game, and Ken, Janice, and I went to a new "Boloco" burrito fast-food restaurant for lunch, followed by ice cream. I then returned home to take advantage of double-experience weekend in "City of Heroes." My Scrapper, "Scarlet Saber 2" attained Level 20 in the multiplayer online game, but I expect the rest of my virtual team to again surpass me soon.

Next time: New York trip, Part 1!