Friday, June 17

Green Lantern (2011)

Directed by Martin Campbell.

Just got back from the matinee. I'm not quite sure what to write about this movie. I went in expecting to be very disappointed, and I was not. Nor did I think that it was all that great, either. Special effects wise, it looked stunning – mostly (I saw 2D – we don't have 3D in the little town I live in, and frankly I'm just fine with that. I'm not a big fan of 3D in any case.) It did look very much like the art of the recent past (last-decade, the “Geoff Johns era”) brought to life. The ring constructs looked fantastic. The controversial costume worked on screen. A couple places it looked like a video game, however, and I don't mean that in a good way. (Near the beginning, when Abin Sur falls through several levels of his spaceship, for one.) My biggest quibble is the story, which could have used a few more rewrites. It just seemed sketchy and underdeveloped despite extensive exposition. I still don't think that Ryan Reynolds was the best choice to play the character of Hal Jordan, although I can't say I have a better suggestion. Just not a big fan of his, for no particular reason. He just really didn't make me care for Hal Jordan, by which I mean care what happened to him. Nor did Blake Lively as Carol Ferris.  She looked good.  Nothing more to say about that.  She looked good.  (Oh yeah - she got the best line in the movie:  "Hal?!  We grew up together!  You think I wouldn't recognize you just because I can't see your cheekbones?")  Certainly, there's no way to do Hector Hammond without it being grotesque – he's that kind of character. But seeing it on the screen is a different experience than seeing it on the page – pretty revolting. Sinestro I thought was quite well played, except insomuch as they didn't really sufficiently lay the groundwork for what us fans of the comics know is coming (and anybody else, I sure – how could it be otherwise for a character named “Sinestro”? And see below*). As I said, not developed sufficiently. The Guardians? – properly detached, aloof. Parallax? Really I would rather have seen the insectoid creature from the recent comics rather than another smoke monster (Lost; Galactus in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, even [and I saw this in another review, unfortunately can't find it again] V'ger from Star Trek:  The Motion Picture) – not that I think an insect would have come off looking better, indeed probably would have looked silly, but another smoke monster? Ho hum.

* Yes, there is an aftercredits – or rather a “mid-credits” scene – that actually drives home what I say. Spoiler here (highlight to see): Sinestro takes up the yellow ring, which regarbs him in the “Sinestro Corps” uniform. Yes, he was earlier advocating harnessing the power of fear to combat Parallax, but he didn't advocate it aggressively enough to give the viewer a sense that he was willing to harness this power even without the threat of Parallax. Although I liked the actor's portrayal of Sinestro overall, this was a general problem with the movie as a whole for me – the actors just didn't seem that into the parts they were playing.

Overall, this movie just was not Thor. A sad thing for this DC Comics fan to say. I do not expect this movie to be well-received by critics. I hope it does well in the box office, nonetheless, mainly to keep some kind of DC Comics movie program going.  And putting the story shortcomings aside, it was cool to watch.  The many alien Green Lanterns of all shapes and sizes, many of them readily recognizable - Tomar-Re, Kilowog, Salaak, even little Bzzt.  (I didn't see Ch'p, nor Mogo, alas.)

Part of DC's Big Announcement a couple weeks ago was that with the new more intimate relationship between DC and parent company Warner Brothers there is to be a more aggressive multi-media marketing program than has ever before been seen for comic books. It was announced a few days ago that an actual advertisement for comic books and comic shops would be attached to this comic book movie.  (Such an obvious thing to do, and to my knowledge it's never been done before beyond the little attribution during the credits "Based on characters published by DC Comics.")  There is indeed such an ad. At the very end, after all the credits, a single still frame shown for about ten seconds. ... Guys, it's going to take more than that. Something with a bit more pizzazz. And a lot better placed – immediately after the “mid-credits” scene mentioned above would have been far better. As soon as that scene (which I'm sure people had waited on) was over, out went the audience. By the time the ad blipped up there, I and a friend who'd happened to show up at the same showing were the only people left. And I think he only stayed because I said there was supposed to be something there. An ad nobody sees is useless. Far better to do like, I believe it was, the opening of the Superman/Shazam!: Return of Black Adam Direct-to-DVD animated feature of a few months back, which if I recall correctly opened in a comic shop, focusing in on a spinner rack, as if what you're about to see is itself a comic book – and close out the movie with something similar. Make it clear what the source material is, and that this stuff is still available. (Believe it or not, some people are aware that these characters are from comic books, but not that they are currently still being published!)

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