Monday, June 20, 2011

Scipio sees "Green Lantern"...

Bottom line up front? I enjoyed it.

I certainly enjoyed the 'tightening up' of some of the GL plot elements. This is a staple feature in cinematic adaptations of comic books, out of necessity. Hollywood (and its audience) have neither the time nor the patience in a two-hour flick to slowly unroll 40-70 years of a comc book character's history. Often this results in a lot of exposition, but, hey, that's part of comic books themselves.

Sometimes this can go spectacularly badly, usually when Hollywood is not sufficiently sensitive to the movie's base property ("Hey! Let's just make the JOKER the guy who killed Batman's parents!"). Sometimes it's "okay except for those fanboys who know better" ("Gwen Stacy? Never heard of her! Go with the incredibly hot MJ! What? Kirsten Dunst? Oh; well, then just make that 'go with MJ'...")

In Green Lantern, the tightening is appreciated and helpful. It's the kind of thing that writers like Geoff Johns like to do, but have to swim up stream against decades of continuity to try to accomplish (such as his changes to the origins of Black Hand and Hector Hammond in his own GL run). Having Parallax being an actual person possessed by the power of fear, rather than some awkward personification of it makes much more sense than the comic book version. Plus it helps ground the Guardians' and Sinestro's subsequent behavior more realistically. In fact, I really hope DC takes the opportunity to use this as the new backstory for Parallax in the DCnU. They won't, but I still hope for that anyway.

Tying Hector Hammond into the Parallax story was also sensible. Hector's comic book origin is about getting his power somewhat unintentionally as a result of exposure to alien life; might as well have that alien life be Abin Sur/ Parallax. Now, I'd rather have seen Hector carry his own film.... but that's not realistic. While he's definitely a GL Big Bad, he doesn't exactly have the Q Rating or audience appeal of a Joker or Lex Luthor.

There was other "tightening" I appreciated wasn't really plot-altering, just time-efficient. How Hal's dad's death was shown; casually noting that Hector and Hal know each other (as they would, given how absurdly and inappropriately chummy the military contracting process is portrayed); and mercifully reducing Kilowog and Tomar Re's time on screen to exactly what was needed to convey their personalities and their roles in Hal's training, rather than the entire process.

And Bzzd was in it. Which is an instant win.

I'm always surprised when I hear people talk about 'wasting' an actor in a role (in this case, Angela Bassett as Amanda Waller and Tim Robbins as Senator Hammond). Actors are not a natural resource. They don't get 'wasted' (um, well, not in that sense). Are both those actors capable of much more? Yes. Should they confine themselves to starring roles in Oscar-worthy vehicles? No; not everyone needs to be Daniel-Day Lewis, folks. Let these people earn their money and keep themselves visible. If one of your complaints about a film is that the lesser parts are being played by people who are too good or too famous, then you should probably just shut yer trap.

Ryan Reynolds is just perfect as Hal Jordan. He looks the part (check the early drawings of Hal Jordan, who, like Reynolds, had creepy eyes that were too close together), acts the part, and gets his face bashed in just like Hal would. I was shocked that people were worried that Reynolds would be too funny. TOO funny?!?! Hal Jordan is a veritable baggy-pants, pratfalling comedian (as any longtime reader of this blog knows!) who makes Plastic Man look like a Shakespearean actor. If anything, Reynolds was not funny enough.

Oh, and he danced with Carol Ferris. That's good; Hal should dance. In fact, his whole relationship and chemistry with her worked well (something you can say about almost NO comic book movies outside of Iron Man), and Blake Lively was good in her role. I also appreciate the inversion that's going on in the GL/HJ/CF triangle. Carol is not an unattainable woman, barred from Hal by his role as GL. In fact, they've already had a relationship together. Carol Ferris isn't smitten with GL, she's smitten with Hal. And finally, when she finds out he's GL, that knowledge winds up making her more disappointed in him. Their relationship is realistic, humanizing, and felt essential to the plot, rather than being a shoe-horned Hollywood love interest.

The same feels true of Hal's other relationships in the film (with Tom Kalmaku and his family). And since the point of the film is the (Potential) Glory of Being Human, making sure that Jordan is humanized as a character is essential.

Oh, and insert appropriate and obligatory praise for the CGI/SFX here.

Was this my favorite comic book movie of all time? No; but Green Lantern is not my favorite comic book character of all time, so I would not expect otherwise. Can I imagine this inspiring kids to want a power ring and developing the backbone to wield one? Yes.


Bryan L said...

I described it as "pleasantly diverting" and also noted the improved origins of Parallax and Hammond when reviewing the movie for a friend. So basically I second your assessment.

Jason Garner said...

Great, nuanced review. I enjoyed the movie as well, but wonder if it was due to the contrarian in me skimming some of the negative reviews before going. The biggest flaw for me was what seemed like some haphazard editing.

Anonymous said...

It also helps that they got rid of Green Lantern's weakness to the colour yellow (which happens to be the stupidest weakness in the annals of comicdom).

SallyP said...

Naturally, I loved this movie to pieces. It was good loud summer movie fun, and I've seen it twice, because I AM that big of a Green Lantern fan. In fact, I am already hungry for a sequel.

I did love the part where Carol figures out that this mysterious flying man in a glowing mask is actually about three seconds.

And Bzzd was fabulous. Salaak too!

thedarkbackward said...

Thank Jeebus!

I thought I was the only person on the planet that actually dug this film!

Accursed Interloper said...

It had a million opportunities to start to suck, and missed all of them! I laughed! I cried! I'll see it again.

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Redforce said...

I recently re-watched the middle part of this on TV, and I liked it too. It was much better than that dreadful Thor movie that came out the same year.