Saturday, June 18, 2011

Summer Fun Goes Green

Green Lantern is an Illuminating experience with campy dialogue and super cool special effects that flys rings around this year’s collection of super hero movies.


The Green Lantern Corps
ARTH VADER (AV): What appeared to be a valiant effort in explaining the Guardians and a history of the Corps, the opening dialogue was simply unnecessary. There was just too much introduction; the fans already know this crap and the general public zoned out after the second sentence. The Ferris/Jordan/(implied) S.T.A.R. Labs interwoven thread was modified but well presented, making this movie, despite continuity tampering with the DC universe, fairly easy to follow.

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): There are always changes to continuity and this was no exception. I applaud the minor changes made, having to take over 60 years of history and cram it into two hours. The essence of the origin stayed untouched even though Abin Sur crashed for another reason in the comics and Parallax seemed to be an alternate version of Krona. Hector Hammond became a means to an end...his own, but this divergence from continuity was simply a plot device. I was never a Hammond fan anyway...

Casting, Directing and Acting

TP: It was cast well enough and Ryan Reynolds played the role I expected him to play, dramatic with his own brand of one-line humor...not a far stretch from a young Hal Jordan. The real performance came from Mark Strong as Sinestro and although his screen time was far too sparse, he commanded the screen whenever he was on it. His presence was incredible as evidenced from the deep impression left from a character that offered no real emotional range at all save arrogance and disgust. One of the highest testaments I can give is that I wanted to see more Sinestro. The directing...needs a deeper look.
Kilowog and Tomar-Re

AV: Yes, I agree, the directing was transparent. Lots of wide-angle shots (esp. of the corps), sweeping effects rolls and soft lighting on emotional moments. The camera work was very one-dimensional and expected, even the dramatic shot. As for casting, well who doesn’t love Ryan Reynolds – he was born to play Hal Jordan. Blake Lively as Carol Ferris (!) was great. Loved Michael Clark Duncan as Kilowog and all the voice characterizations were splendid. To add to your Sinestro comments, Pontificator, I loved that I didn’t O.D. on Sinestro. Like Boba Fett in Empire Strikes Back, you just want more. *Spoiler Alert! And according to the scene in the end credits, we will!

Special Effects

The Guardians on Oa
TP: Incredible, awesome and fascinating all in one. The manipulation and adaptation of the green Oan energy from comic to film was terrific. The costumes, the aliens, the stellar backdrops...all these brought Sector 2814 to life. There were some shortcomings in this film, but the effects weren’t one of them. A ring that can manifest whatever the mind can imagine is an awesome special effects challenge...and that challenge was met successfully.

Hal Jordan (Reynolds) and Tomar-Re

AV: Wellll… ok. I am going to be uncharacteristically harsh on this point. The effects were very, very good, no doubt (after all, Warner Brothers dumped an initial $9 Million into the effects of this movie in post production!), but your comments on Green Energy not-withstanding, some effects shots were just… not right. I am going catch a big green boot in the butt on this one but when Sinestro, Tomar-Re and Kilowog come to Hal’s side (conveniently when the coast is clear) the lighting on the faces was pure studio. No green aura to let us know how they survive in space, and I had no real sense, and for me this is key, that OA was this huge, densely populated planet with a sprawling metropolis with billions of beings under the Guardian’s watchful protection. The visual effects were spellbinding, but nothing special about them in helping the audience have a believable experience.

Taking A Deeper Look

TP: There was humor, drama and action...and the blending of these really needed some solid directing. The movie felt choppy and lacked a cohesive flow. The remedy to this is probably on the cutting room floor. Hector Hammond was a complete plot device and could have been removed altogether in deference to more interaction between Jordan and Sinestro. The build up of Hammond, only to be killed, felt like a waste. It would have been better to see more of Hal’s training at the hands of Kilowog and Sinestro instead of giving the impression that the sum of his training lasted ten minutes.

Mark Strong as Sinestro
AV: I’m loving your earlier statements here, Ponty. Trying to cram 60 years of historical backstory and source material is an act in futility. The backgrounds are too rich and too complex to do any justice to in context. That said, this is also why we can’t judge the movies too harshly, because they can’t let us interact as the viewer or reader where we can engage our intellect. To participate, we have to buy, entirely, on the director’s vision (and therefore grasp) of the material. Not bad on this effort, honestly. Though I found it hard to connect with who the Corps was and through them, Hal as well.

TP: Being an intergalactic police force gave the writers all the excuse they needed to deliver a space battle worth talking a good way, instead of leaving me guessing how Sinestro escaped Parallax after watching four of his comrades get toasted with ease. There were many missed opportunities to bring us into the Corps along with Jordan so that we could experience his wonderment with him...and that should have been the story being told.

Looking Ahead: Sequels

AV: This one’s a no-brainer. This movie will score big in the box office and Reynold’s three-movie option will get cemented and will kick into high gear. The Green Lantern is not a stand alone cop but he’s a part of much larger force for good and justice (like Judge Dredd). Sequels need to explore this further and perform as well as the origin movie to make the franchise solid. What say you, P-man?

TP: One word: Sinestro. Done correctly Sinestro could very well steal the film much like Jack Nicholson stole the first Batman... and Heath Ledger stole the last one...transforming this sequel into a true summer blockbuster.

THE PONTIFICATOR rates Green Lantern: There is a fine line between a good movie and a great one – and this film flirted with that line but didn’t quite cross it. It couldn't decide if it wanted to be story driven or a summer blockbuster. And while trying to be a blend of both, became neither and left me feeling like there should have been more. It was a good time that had all the potential to be a great time... and busted seven and a half blocks out of ten.

ARTH VADER rates Green Lantern: Ouch. Can’t disagree, though. However, Reynolds makes Hal Jordan come to life, Sinestro is bad-ass and I must say Blake Lively and the timeless beauty of Angela Bassett – I am going to be a little more forgiving and give Green Lantern… eight and a half busted blocks.
Green Lantern: 8/10 Busted Blocks


  1. Well Vader...I'd like to address your comment "and for me this is key, that OA was this huge, densely populated planet with a sprawling metropolis with billions of beings under the Guardian’s watchful protection."

    I realize you're a "Marvel" guy...but the only time Oa had other inhabitants other than the Guardians and the Corps was during the "Mosaic" storyline with John Stewart...and since this probably will never be touched onscreen, there should only ever be, at most, a little over 3600 Lanterns if you include prisoners.

    So I was ok with not seeing billions of beings...:-)

  2. I defer to your admittedly much deeper Oan knowledge then mine, of course. I thought there was a storyline in the mid-nineties that chronicled facts concerning Oa and that there was a larger population. I am wrong.

    This, however, does raise a point to me about modern film making. I promise to be brief:

    Remember back in Peter Jackson's "The Return of the King" when the Riders of Rohan came to Gondor's aide? By accounting of the book (some 8600 or so by my recollection) there were somewhere between eight and ten thousand warriors on Horseback. When it shows on screen, on the hilltop overlooking Pelennor fields, dude, there were waaay more then 10,000! It was impressive to see but c'mon, there were easily 25,000 guys there.

    So what they heck does this have to do with Green Lantern? I'm glad you asked! Both the wide angle shots of the corps and the sprawling scenes of Oa itself, show the corps in the tens of thousands onscreen. The city is quadruple the size of Manhattan. Like Return of The King, just too many. And the city – far too large for as many people as you say. Let's agree that at any one time there are abut half the corps on Oa give or take a handful of Guardians. That means about 1300+ so... on the ENTIRE planet! The movie makes the city and the corps seem far grander then they are.

    I understand its a movie and it's suppose dot be larger than life... blah, blah, blah. But just as we can overstate things verbally. it can also happen visually. Visual effects shots should leave me with a sense of wonder – not bewilderment.

    This also informs our experience with a movie. As a viewer, the studios can oversell things like this, and while we are waaayy down deep into the rabbit hole, we would do well to remember; context matters.

  3. promised to be brief!...LOL!

    The storyline in the mid-nineties and the "Mosaic" storyline I spoke of are the same.

    I didn't see tens of thousands...but I didn't count either. I don't know what 3600 individuals clustered together looks like...but now I'm gonna pause the movie and count when it comes out on DVD (yes, I'm going to own this movie).

    That said, lets keep in mind that the entire planet of Oa is the headquarters of the Corps. In the books it also houses the prison all the galactic baddies are kept that are "arrested" by the Corps. Even if we add in the "Mosaic" story...the planet is way larger than the comparison population. My point is they can make Oa a huge sprawling metropolis (and I'll add that is has never been depicted as such in the books) is just a whole lot of room for 3600

    Your right of course...the filmmakers took a lot of liberty with the opportunity to show off how grand they can make Oa...without any thought to how Oa really is or who would ever be on it at any given time.