Friday, June 17, 2011


In terms of quality, they're pretty much the same movie. Green Lantern is not as bad as it could have been. It's not Jonah Hex or Catwoman or Batman and Robin. It doesn't inspire outright disgust or confusion, merely indifference. Thor's few shining moments outnumber those of Green Lantern, though not by much, and the end result is pretty much the same: a shrug and a meh, and in two weeks I will have forgotten I've seen it.

Most importantly, I have no desire to see Green Lantern a second time. In that regard, DC has succeeded in catching up to Marvel Studios--their movies (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, and Thor) haven't been worth a second look, either.

This isn't a cohesive review, so much as a random collection of observations:

Why is the planet Oa so drab and ugly? So damned dingy and dark? It's lazy, uninspired production design, to be sure, but I wonder if it's not intentional--there's a lot of compositing in this movie, and if you're on a tight budget, you can hide your seams much easier in darkest night than you can in brightest day. Whatever the case, the end result is ugly and without even a shred of awe.

The movie's internal logic is peppered with holes, the worst of which can be found in the handling of the Guardians and Sinestro.

Parallax is pretty much doom incarnate, but he's also the Guardians' dirty little secret. There are thousands of members of the Green Lantern Corps, and yet only one of them knows about Parallax. Before the movie starts, Parallax is defeated and imprisoned, and no one is placed to guard the most dangerous force in the galaxy. He's just sitting there, waiting for anyone to free him with a yellow drop of fear.

When they learn of his return, how do the Guardians respond? By authorizing Sinestro to take nine or ten Corps members to face him. Again, there are thousands of Corps members, and they send fewer than a dozen?

The Guardians suck.

Logic says that you send the whole damned Corps to face the Ultimate Evil, but the climax reveals Parallax to be such an easy-to-lick punk that the entire Corps could obviously have taken him--no sweat. Or maybe they'd all have died like most of Sinestro's small crew. So what? They serve no purpose, anyway, other than to stand around and make Star Wars cantina creature noises and sell toys, so why not wipe out the entire Corps and have Hal Jordan's victory at the end actually mean something? Make your sucky villain look formidable, end the movie with Jordan rebuilding the Corps, and avoid a ludicrous lapse in logic that undermines the whole shaky mess.

Sinestro: ah, Sinestro. A Marvel guy, I haven't read many books featuring Sinestro, but I grew up watching the Superfriends, so I got a nerd chill when he put on the yellow ring, but here's the problem: nothing about this Sinestro says that he'd ever put that ring on. (Nothing but his damned name, of course.) Yeah, he pushes to forge a yellow ring, far too late the the game (he should have been pushing for this from the start), but he is proven wrong by Hal Jordan, and not once are we given any reason to believe he was actually tempted by the yellow power of fear.

He puts that ring on at the end simply because he does so in the comics, and not because any logic inherent in this particular storyline dictates that he do so.

And why is no one guarding the yellow ring? The Guardians need to be overthrown and executed in the murky streets of Oa because they're clearly all suffering from immortality-induced dementia.

Good things to say? Sure--the make-up FX are spectacular. Not just okay, but absolutely stellar. I saw no names that I recognized in the credits, but whomever is responsible for the practical make-up work on Sinestro, Abin Sur, and Hector Hammond's bulgy head deserves an Oscar. It's as good as it gets. (Unlike the CGI, which is hit-and-miss, as it always is in FX-driven flicks with ambitions larger than their FX budgets.)

Sinestro, again: flawed logic aside, he's the coolest thing in the movie. He doesn't have much to do, but he looks and sounds cool and I wanted more, and that's saying something, because he's a pink-skinned alien named Sinestro, and I'm not a twelve-year-old boy living in 1963. Mark Strong does a great job, and I'll allow myself to fantasize that someone with actual skill will write the sequel and we'll get a good movie about a green guy fighting a yellow guy.

My hometown, New Orleans, must be one of the most recognizable places on the planet. In Green Lantern, the city that care forget is digitally manipulated and expanded, but there's just no mistaking the suburban shots, the coastal scenes, and even the sky. I love my city, and it was nice to see it on screen. If this movie did one thing right, putting the talented folks down here to work was it.

Green Lantern gets one thing right that Thor didn't, I guess--it's talisman. In the comics, Green Lantern, Thor, and Captain Marvel are all cut from similar cloth. As object/magic-based heroes, they serve as the ultimate childhood fantasy: find some special item, get powers. In the original Thor comics, Donald Blake discovered Thor's hammer and, being worthy, became Thor, just as Billy Batson became Captain Marvel ("Shazam!"). Thor's hammer even has it's own magic words:

Whosoever Holds This
Hammer, If He Be Worthy,
Shall Possess The Power

Odin utters this line in the movie, after stripping Thor of his power, but why? The hammer gets lodged in a rock, all Excalibur-like, but Thor never retrieves it. His daddy eventually summons it and sends it to him, the whole lodged-in-rock sequence serves no purpose (unless you count facilitating yet another Stan Lee cameo), and the words on the hammer are just an empty nod to fandom.

I hold out little hope for Captain America. Yes, the trailers promise the Raiders-esque WWII-era Cap film comic readers have longed for, but this is Joe Johnston. He's a competent technician at best, sort of the cinematic equivalent of a good sessions drummer. If Kenneth Branagh can't get a Marvel movie right, I'm not sure the director of Jurassic Park 3 and The Wolfman can.

The point of all this?

Go see X-Men: First Class, of course.

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