Movies: Green Lantern

Finally saw Green Lantern; thumbs definitely up. I’m no Green Lantern expert, but I’ve read enough to recognize a lot honor done to that comic. The Guardians and Oa seemed pretty on the money to me; so were Abin Sur, Tomar-Re, Kilowog and Sinestro. And I had no problem with Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan; no more so than Christian Bale as Batman or Toby Maguire as Spiderman. Or with Robert Downey Jr as Ironman, for that matter. (And I like them fine, in case you mistake me as being sarcastic.)

I also appreciated the way Hal used the ring: unusual, and yet appropriate, inventions to solve the problem at hand. That seemed very Green Lantern-ish. I’ve always considered slightly odd-ball combat and rescue tools as kind of a signature of the comic. For one example, lofting the oil tanker with a pair of bigass rams and then blowing it up with AA guns. That was pure GL.

I especially liked the “energy” CGI on the uniforms and the animation of the chest symbol. That’s something that comics don’t provide (well, at least not the paper versions; the inevitable e-paper versions will be another matter). The CGI, in general, seemed organic to the story and didn’t jump out for its own sake. (Which is exactly as should be.)

And I liked that his childhood sweetie, Carol Ferris, recognized him immediately. (Lois Lane and company were the dumbest humans on the planet. That’s especially insulting considering Lane is an investigative journalist!) One of the things that commended Ghost Rider to me (besides its sheer funnosity) was that he immediately tells his girlfriend. Call me sentimental, but I like inclusion. I understand the idea behind a secret identity, that other people knowing puts loved ones in jeopardy, but not trusting your loved ones seems silly and complicated. (Of course, that’s the real point: to wring extra melodrama, humor and story from the gyrations of keeping the secret from those closest.)

So I liked it; I liked it a lot.  Was it a great movie? Eh. It didn’t make my buy list, although in these Netflix days a film really has to be a keeper to make the buy list. Part of the problem is that superhero movies have become commodity, and CGI has become common. We can now make anything we can visualize, but when everyone is doing it, it takes something special to really stand out. Part of the problem is that movies these days are mostly crap.  I’ll natter on about that another time.  And part of the problem is that Green Lantern was a fun, fairly shallow summer action film. Very enjoyable on that level, but fairly forgettable once the next one comes along.

One of the few jarring moments for me was how, during the test flight, that Hal spaced out remembering his dad, a pilot who crashed and died in front of him when he was a kid. And because he spaces out he crashes his expensive plane and gets in trouble with his bosses, Carl and Carol Ferris. That bit of business is needed to set Jordan up for being selected by the ring, I get that, but it doesn’t seem realistic. Seems like a professional test pilot would have his head more in the game than that.

Yes, yes, I know, I’m commenting about the reality of a summer action film based on a comic book. Silly of me. But it was the one and only point that took me out of the film. The old, ‘blanking out over a bad memory’ thing has been done to death. I like it when stories surprise me and go somewhere new.

And the thing is that movies based on comics are kind of hard to judge.  When they’re lurid and fantastical, they’re often just being true to the source material.  A good case in point: The TV show Heroes was hard for me to criticize, although I found myself wanting to find fault (I’m not sure why; maybe just because it was so trendy). The problem was, most of my complaints were the same complaints one can make about most superhero comics. For example, how the villains always seem to know what the heroes are doing (and rarely vice-versa) and how they manage to show up at just the right (or wrong) times.  Very comic book.

When they say James Bond movies are somewhat comic book, that’s what they mean: how the good guys are always a step behind the bad guys until the last moment when good finally prevails over bad. Which is very classic Americana. I’ve always called it “The Rocky Syndrome.”

Comics have been melodramatic like that forever. Early comics tended to have the same relation to reality as early TV, and both forms have become much less sanitized in the last couple decades. They now, at least sometimes, reflect real-life much more accurately than ever before.  I’m sometimes amazed at what’s allowed on TV these days. Not shocked, you understand, just amazed that it’s changed so much.

But that will be a topic for another time.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

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