Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Some random thoughts on the Green Lantern movie, shared without any regard given to whether or not plot points might be spoiled:

—Ever since this film was given a release date and thus became more real than all of the other in-development movies the comics news sites cover so breathlessly, I've thought it was downright shocking that they were making a Green Lantern movie. I realize we're deep into a time when every comic book character seems to be eligible for adaptation, but it was still hard to imagine Warner Brothers really making a Green Lantern movie before they made one starring Wonder Woman, Flash or even Aquaman, all of whom are more widely popular and recognized characters, characters whose names alone pretty much suggest their powers and whole deals.

(The other day, for example, I overheard some folks at my new day job talking about the Green Lantern movie, and part of that conversation involved trying to figure out if he was "from somewhere," like a TV show or cartoon or comic book, or if he was original to the movie. Also, whether or not he was in someway related to the Green Hornet).

On the other hand, Green Lantern's super-power is that he wears a special effects factory and toy factory on his right hand, so I guess I should really have been surprised that they hadn't made a Green Lantern movie sooner.

—There is a very expensive, heavily promoted major motion picture that played in movie theaters all over the world featuring Kilowog, Tomar-Re and, of course, the former says “poozer” in it. That’s pretty amazing.

—It really seemed to me that there were at least two movies here, two different drafts or proposals that got smashed together. There was the earthbound story and conflicts, which involved the majority of the characters and time spent on the movie, and there was the space stuff, in which Hal is inducted into the Corps and trains and suchlike. I wonder if the movie would have been better served by picking one of those plots and sticking to it, devoting more attention to it, and saving the other for a sequel? Would it have been so bad to do all the Earth/superhero stuff in the first movie, and relegate all the space business to heavy foreshadowing and Sinestro-watching-from-afar or something…? Too little time seemed spent on the conflicts between Hammond and Jordan, who were often presented as the two sides of the same coin sort of hero/villain dynamic, but not consistently.

—The costume really, really bothered me when I first saw it. Like, really bothered me. Like, scared and upset me. In every promotional still or trailer or photo or poster I saw, the costume looked strange and upsetting, but it wasn’t so bad in the film at all. I guess I got used to it pretty quickly.

Except the mask. That looked strange and creepy at all time, but the rest of it looked quite all right to me.

—I couldn’t stop staring at Green Lantern’s collar though. Every time it was in the shot, I just sort of stared at it and thought about how much I hate the JLA redesigns Jim Lee did. Is it just a coincidence that the Green Lantern in the movie and in the upcoming DC comics have such similar collars? Or did Jim Lee like the way that collar looked so much in the movie that he used it as inspiration for redesigning the whole line?

—The movie seemed oddly small and cheap, which is a weird thing to think, given the fact that you could literally see the money leaking off of the characters and digital scenery throughout the movie. The action spans the galaxy, but the scale seemed tiny and fake. Oa, for example, lacked the sense of place or grandeur of pretty much any sci-fi movie (Like, say, that dumb-ass Vin Diesel one with the word "Chronicles" in the title, or even the first three Star Wars movies, which lacked the technology that made this movie). Oa looked like a painted backdrop, devoid of any life at all. I know there were several thousand aliens on it, but I guess they all just stood closely clustered together in an underground cavern all the time…?

—I think it was a much, much better film than Wanted, and not really any worse than Kick-Ass.

—Sinestro looked awesome. I agree with what Mike Sterling said regarding him and his role in the film, I think; it seemed like a shame that he had such a relatively small role in the film. Mark Strong was excellent, and the fact that he and the filmmakers were able to make that particular character design—elf-eared pink dude with pointy mustache and receding hairline—look both believable and cool is a real feat.

—I didn’t like Abin Sur’s design at all. It seemed really…cheap (There's that word again). Like something from a low-budget '80s film or a made-for-cable-TV movie. If he was just a pink dude, like a bald, paler Sinestro, he might have looked better.

—By the way, were they pronouncing it “Ab-in-SOOR” or “Ab-in-SEWER”…? I always thought it was pronounced “Ab-in SIR.”

—All of the actors were good. I have no complaint about any of the acting (Well, that kid who played Hal’s nephew wasn’t so hot, but otherwise…). I think the movie actually could have used more terrible actors acting terribly. I think that might have given it a more enjoyable, so-bad-it’s-awesome quality. But due to the complete competence of all of the actors, who ranged from pretty good to very good, it was a weird sort of movie in which it was clearly structurally fucked-up, and none of the actors’ faults. Hopefully it doesn’t therefore hurt the careers of any of these folks then.

—With his suit and white hair, Tim Robbins reminded me a lot of Glenn Beck. Especially during his death scene, where he was screaming in wide-eyed terror.

—I liked the fact that The Guardians looked like little blue Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Draculas.

—Not crazy about the Lady Guardian’s penciled eyebrows or the weird plastic hair pieces some of them seemed to wear, but I dug the long-cloaks-as-bodies look.

—I didn’t care for Kilowog’s design. He seemed too small, too real and not as…square and odd as he looked in the comics. Especially the old, pre-Ethan Van Sciver comics. His voice sounded bad too. Again, too realistic. I don’t know that I really had a Kilowog voice in my head that would have sounded more “right” to me, but this wasn’t it. Perhaps simply because Michael Clarke Duncan provided the voice, and his is such a distinct one that when I hear it I simply see him, rather than a square-headed, giant orange hippo man with crazy underbite.

—Tomar-Re looked a little too realistic to me, too. There’s something more disturbing and alien about his Silver Age, orb-headed lizard chicken man look that the movie Tomar-Re didn’t have.

—Nice job on Tom though, Movie!

That is, finding a way to include him, without it being horrible. (He seemed oddly absent from a few scenes though; like, he abandoned Hal at weird points. If you and your pal just discovered a UFO, alien body and a mysterious alien artifact, would you just take off and leave your friend alone to experiment with the artifacts by himself? Carol also left Hal at a strange point or two, I thought).

—The “full-grown” version of Parallax looked pretty cool to me, but I was confused as to why he looked so little and not-scary at first, especially since I knew the comic book version was revealed to be an capital-A Alien-like monster insect. His visualization makes sense later in the film, but I was put off by it’s not scariness at first.

—I thought that was some impressively weird, avant garde shit, finding a shitty soundtrack from a terrible 1982 action movie and repurposing it as the score of a 2011 Green Lantern movie. At least, I imagine that’s what they did—it’s the only way the music for this film makes any sense.

—I wondered about the inclusion of Amanda Waller’s character in the film. Was this part of Warner Bros/DC’s attempts to make more Marvel-like superhero movies? Like,Iron Man had an extra-franchiseical, African-American character from the comics to hint at a greater connectivity and suggest a shared universe beyond what's seen on the screen, so they had to use one too. Waller doesn't look like Waller from the comics, and her job description seems pretty different (here, she's a scientist/bureaucrat working for what seems like a black organization within the U.S. government), but her origin story seems awfully similar, and it's shown in a quick glimpse when Hector Hammond's mind-reading powers are being demonstrated.

—Also, there was a mid-credits tease for a future, possible sequel, not unlike the way the last few Marvel movies have been used to tease the next one.

—That tease, by the way, makes absolutely no sense at all. None. I mean, I know that Sinestro will eventually turn evil and wear a yellow ring, and you know that Sinestro will eventually turn evil and wear a yellow ring, but there’s nothing—nothing at all—in the movie to suggest why he might do that. In fact, the Sinestro in the movie doesn’t even slightly hint that he might eventually go bad. He’s sort of a jerk when he first meets Hal Jordan, but it’s pretty thoroughly explained why he doesn’t like Jordan, and, by the film’s end, Sinestro has come around. Based on the film itself, Kilowog, Tom Kalmaku, Carol’s dad, Hal’s brother seem just as likely to put on a yellow power ring and go evil as Sinestro.

—I can't help but admire the incredible silliness of certain aspects of the movie, like Hal’s big, giant fist construct, or that scene at the end where he creates two green jets to tow himself away from the sun with. That scene, by the way, was the only one that really achieved the awesome/stupid balance that I find so appealing in Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern comics.

—Fear is flammable?

—I kind of want to reread Johns’ “Secret Origin” story arc now, as it seems to be the story that most heavily influenced this film, but I remember the Hammond/Carol/Hal conflict seeming a lot more logical there, and Hal’s introduction to the Corps and the emergence of a conflict with Sinestro better hinted at there. In other words, I wonder if the movie was too faithful to certain aspects of the comics, and not faithful enough to others, if that makes sense.


MOCK! said...

Just got home from seeing Green Lantern at the drive in. I agree with most of your points. I had seen the Sinestro scene online and saw some other folks comment on it before I saw the movie.

Having seen the movie now (my grammar seems was the second feature, so I am tired) I am trying tomtie in the earlier scene where Sinestro ALMOST put the ring on. He seemed to recognize the need to master fear and use it...perhaps it is a noble-ish move that will have dire consequences.....

However, the first feature was Cars 2 and since I never saw the first I was REALLY confused and that might have colored my GL experience....

Akilles said...

Maybe Carol is the Star saphire already, and that`s why he left Hal at some points.
I always thought that Abin-Surs name is pronounced Abin-Suur...

John Foley said...

The biggest problem for me is Ryan Reynolds. He looks great with his shirt off, yes, but he just can't pull off the Big Hero role. He's too much the goofball frat boy at all times. I know there are some interpretations of Hal Jordan that hint at his less-than-sterling character (Frank Miller's version in ASBARTBW being the low point), but I just never got why anyone was supposed to follow him or respect him. There's never a hint in this movie of why Tom would be his friend, or Carol would love him. He's just an irresponsible dude with washboard abs and a nice haircut. The kind of guy you'd have a fling with, sure, but not someone you'd pine over.
And we're also supposed to believe he's a GREAT Green Lantern, and that something about his humanity makes him this way. How is this shown to us? By having him punch Parallax in the face. Really, no one else in the GLC would have ever thought of that? That's the big intuitive leap that Hal's essential humanity allowed him? Parallax is built-up to be this unstoppable menace, but he's dealt with in two minutes. Planet-busting cosmic entities should not be defeated by punching them into the sun.
This movie was very similar to Thor in that there's just no real climax. Lots of buildup and exposition, but the whole film feels like prologue.

Eyz said...

OA/Space/Earth/The movie seemed to lack of life. This about sums it up.