Sunday, June 19, 2011

Green Lantern Tests Your Will

The big concepts of the Green Lantern Corps are a good example of the type of thing that you'd think would be impossible to pull off convincingly in a live action movie with any hope of coherence and believability. Interestingly enough, The Green Lantern movie managed to give us the whole basic premise of the Guardians and the Corps in a succinct and coherent package. They gave us a universe that made sense, about as much sense as the implicitly crazy ideas of the Green Lantern comics can make. Where the movie falls apart is when it actually tries to tell us a story, involving actual characters, within this universe, in a way that doesn't go on to insult the audience in every way imaginable.

It's basically off to a decent start when we're with Abin Sur. I'm not one of those comic people that ever cares if a movie is "just like the comic" or not. As I always say, there's more than one comic and it's all about interpretation. A movie is an adaptation and ultimately, not for the comic fans anyway (more on this later, however, because I'm foreshadowing). It's designed for mass appeal, or at least it's supposed to be designed for this. So whether the details are true to the comics or not is irrelevant. The basic idea is put across fine: the Corps are fighting against some great force and Abin Sur crashes on Earth and yadda yadda yadda. Who cares, since, after all, this is supposed to be the story of Hal Jordan, right? Well, then let's get to the meat of this (no pun intended).

I am always open minded when casting is announced for these comic movies because, well, these are actors and it's not about what they look like or whether the character they played in their last movie is anything like the character they were just cast for. Let's be honest, in every case the Internets have gone crazy with negativity over the casting of so and so as that guy from that comic book that's been drawn and written about a thousand different ways, but suddenly has a singular interpretation that actor X couldn't possibly get right. And then the movie comes out and it's a 50% chance the Internets were wrong. I call this the Heath Ledger Equation. In the case of Ryan Reynolds, I am not familiar with his previous work, so I didn't have an opinion either way. And having seen the movie, I still don't. It's impossible to say if a person who is given such terrible material to work with was cast properly or not. I will say this though, a whole lot of time was spent on showing us just how pretty the good humans were in this movie. I'm not saying Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris should have been less attractive, but seriously. . .

Remember when I said in the second paragraph that comic movies weren't for comic book geeks and then told you I was foreshadowing (this may come up again)? Well, that's because this movie REALLY isn't for comic book geeks. It goes to great lengths to tell us how the "thinkers" are the bad guys. Also, that the kid that grew up with the pretty (oh so pretty!) pilots, but didn't fit in because his dad was really one of the pretty people too, you know a "doer," that smart, nerdy kid is creepy and nasty. Hector Hammond starts off on the road to being somewhat sympathetic, particularly to the people who likely came to the movie because they like comic books, but then, after he gives in to the dark side, clearly as a result of the life he's lead and the way his father treated him, there's no redemption. Nope. Hector Hammond gets beaten by the pretty pilot dude with superpowers in a game of keep away with his hopes and dreams. Even before the prequels, Darth Vader, the most evil bastard in film history, has a moment of redemption and at the time, we didn't even understand his motivations. But Hector Hammond, who just from the little bit we saw here, could have had his own John Hughes movie, just gets disintegrated.  Meanwhile, Hal Jordan, pilot, Green Lantern and possibly a male model, gets everything. He even gets to forget the childhood tragedy that set him on his rudderless, suicidal life in the first place. Apparently, he came to terms with that business so well, that it wasn't even worth mentioning at any point ever again. And that's really curious because a lot of other things were mentioned again, through the use of a literary technique called foreshadowing (where have we heard that before?).

Right before Hal Jordan goes off to fight Parallax in the big final battle, his impossibly beautiful, well dressed (pilot!?) and immaculately groomed (after an ordeal involving things blowing up, mind you) girlfriend, Carol Ferris asks him how he will manage to beat that thing. Hal's answer is basically: "Well, remember that thing we did at the beginning of the movie, with the two jets?" I am only slightly changing that dialogue. And then during the fight, Hal finds time to quote his trainer, Kilowog, while figuring out how to beat Parallax, before managing to use, wait for it. . .  two jets, to do exactly what Kilowog spoke of! I remember episodes of the Superfriends that were more subtle than this movie.

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