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BlokeBusting The Essentials #88: Green Lantern

Ah yes, with that mask you can rest assured that nothing will damage your face and NOBODY will recognise you. Well done.

#88: Green Lantern

or

They Made The Supersuit Green. And Animated…

Wow, that was the longest time-out ever! I do apologise for the delay, but things got a bit hectic and erratic for a while. I hope you are all keeping as safe as possible, wearing your superhero masks (because they look cool, if nothing else) and not going too stir-crazy. Anyway, on with the show. We’re here. We knew this one would turn up eventually. Oh boy…

First Impressions

This film was something that kinda came out of nowhere and I went into knowing next to nothing about the Green Lantern canon. My memory of the outcome of the first watch (and only until last month) was: “That was…… a thing.”. I recall that I didn’t mind Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, but the rest of the film was not very good (or even borderline terrible). Did the film get better over time? Let’s find out!

The Characters

  • Ryan Reynolds: Hal Jordan/Green Lantern

    As I said before, I didn’t mind him as Hal when I saw the film. For all the film’s faults, Ryan always seems to be trying his best with what he has. The issue is that the film is on such a tight track that any of the things you’d like them to try (maybe showing him abusing the power a bit, learning that he can do anything and needs to overcome the human flaws to be a paragon or even just a scene where we really get to see him struggle with the “right thing”) are just not there because the bad guy has made another bad guy and the good guy must defeat the bad guy so he can then defeat the bad guy. I have to think that if the film was made now with the same cast, we’d see a vastly different film with more time for Ryan to flex both his acting and comedy chops. Ah well…
  • Blake Lively: Carol Ferris

    I do appreciate that this character is shown as a smart, forward-thinking woman who has moved on from their relationship and is not a typical damsel in distress. And then that all comes crashing down when she becomes a damsel in distress. And I’m not saying that she is transformed into the standard Daphne figure, but she’s thrust into a situation where the only way out is for Green Lantern to save her since she, you know, doesn’t have powers or anything. It’s kinda hard to keep a human relevant to the plot outside of a relationship of some kind when giant space magic is going on. So yeah, another “what could have been” moment thanks to the script.
  • Peter Sarsgaard: Hector Hammond

    This was probably the best character in the film, if only because it felt the most like he had an actual full arc. He starts out timid before growing into a villain that can be somewhat sympathised with. We see him drown in the villainy and we know that he will need to be defeated. So we’re really looking forward to seeing the final confrontation. And then….. he gets taken out by the above-mentioned space magic. (Yes, I know the character is Parallax but basically it’s Space Magic as far as the film’s creators seem to be concerned.) It’s such an anti-climax that I am genuinely surprised that nobody took the writer aside and explained what a boring way to remove a villain it was. Such a shame.
  • Mark Strong: Thaal Sinestro

    I like him. I could actually believe his character’s arc, his reasoning for his actions and his dislike for the Earthian Green Lantern. And there might be a reason for this. More than anyone else, this character is heavily based on the original comic character. So we do get to see what following the source material closely can do (I know, such a novel concept!). And this character really doesn’t get that much screen time, so there wasn’t much of a chance to see what happens when they move away from the stereotypical “I don’t like you but eventually I will work with you because I need to” mean superior. Which was probably good for this film as we really needed something good to grab from this film.

The Setting

Right. So, this film is set in modern times (or at least current times as of when the film was made) and has a fairly good amount of exposition for those new to Green Lantern. The problem we have is that most of the characters are so cookie-cutter that we’re often looking to the plot and background for any substance and…… it’s not really there. Now I’ll be the first to admit that a fair number of comic book narratives don’t hold up to much sustained critiques. There’s a lot of hand waving or “Obviously this couldn’t be done this way because…. squirrel!” in comics as some characters are too powerful for things to be an issue. And in this film we see plenty of hand waving. The main human bad guy is able to use his powers because….. his brain is connected to the space fog? The reason Hal’s ring constructions are sometimes broken immediately and sometimes stronger than anything else is….. he just thought a bit harder this time. The reason both Parallax’s host and Sinestro utterly believe(d) that the Yellow Fear force can be controlled despite every single piece of evidence stating otherwise is…… OK, that one is still a mystery to me.

And I feel like the film really does try too hard to answer all the questions in one go. If we got this film today, I honestly think they would have learned from modern films and known that we don’t need EVERYTHING explained and wrapped up in the first film. My take? I’d not have Parallax show up on Earth. He’d have escaped but we wouldn’t learn it until the middle of the film. We’d get more of the descent into madness from Hector so we can see the character really struggle with not wanting to lose his mind but slowly losing the fight to Parallax throughout the film. We’d see more of the viewpoints of the Lantern Corps and get to really understand the wide range of characters and viewpoints brought into the Corps while seeing the underlying x-factor that all members of the Corps have and that Hal obviously has even if he has trouble seeing it himself. And I honestly think that’s all we needed. More character depth and less “SHOW EVERYTHING!!” would really have helped this film. But obviously that’s not what we got. *sighs*

Ok, time to see what Bubba has to say about this film!

I often remember liking this movie more than most. I thought Ryan Reynolds was a decent choice for Hal Jordan, and I didn’t find the CGI costume as bad as others did. This time around, the flaws stood out a bit more than they did last time, but I still found enjoyment in nearly all of the scenes in space, there just wasn’t enough of it. I enjoyed Kilowogg, I thought Sinestro’s set up was great with a decent motivation and all the performances were well done. Where it fell apart was the follow through and the villains. Sinestro was set up great, then they just made him go “ok, now I’m evil for the sequel that we’ll never get” in the mid-credits sequence. Hal Jordan didn’t get enough training, he just sucked and then he was good. And the villains were awful. Parallax was a giant cloud that sucked out people’s fear in the form of a skeleton for some reason, and he infected some scientist who got a big head and telekinesis for some reason. It didn’t make sense and the giant cloud was ultimately defeated by a punch to the face. Just awful.

What’s more important about this film is where it falls in DC’s timeline. This was set up to be a start for the next Justice League. It was made inbetween the Dark Knight and the Dark Knight Rises, and it was obviously set up for Sinestro to become the villain for the next movie with the obvious potential to introduce other Justice League members to follow up on Marvel’s heels with their Avengers tease in Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk. Despite the negative reviews, it was a modest success with an opening weekend of $53M and a worldwide take over $200M, at least it would have been except for the fact that they sunk $200M into the film in the first place. This was really DC swinging for the fences and completely missing the mark. In a way, it was a good thing as Ryan Reynolds would go on to champion a faithful Deadpool movie and sequel, although DC’s extended universe has currently been met with very mixed results. And time will tell whether or not the rumored Green Lantern Corps movie comes to fruition as is successful.

Well put Mr Wheat, well put. And now, we move into the grand questions!

  1. Would I recommend this film to others?
  2. Does this film deserve to be on the list?
  3. If so, where does it appear on the list?

Shall we begin at the beginning? Why not!

1) I guess? It’s not terrible and some of the performances can be good. Ryan Reynolds does give a few great moments and Taika Waititi just exudes fun when he’s on screen (which isn’t much). But you really have to like and understand the trope-y comic book films of that era to get much from this film.

2) Yeah. It is the only live-action Green Lantern film we have and therefore does deserve a spot on the hallowed list. And so, the final question remains…

3) And the answer is:

  1. Hellboy
  2. Captain America: The First Avenger
  3. The Crow
  4. Men In Black
  5. Dr Strange
  6. Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  7. Megamind
  8. Thor
  9. Batman: The Killing Joke
  10. Superman 3
  11. The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman
  12. The Meteor Man
  13. Supergirl
  14. Green Lantern
  15. Howard The Duck
  16. The Fantastic Four (1994)
  17. The Punisher
  18. Batman & Robin
  19. The Amazing Spider-Man
  20. Batman Forever
  21. BvS: Dawn Of Justice

    Potential Substitutions:

    Wonder Woman (replacing The Death Of The Hulk)
    X-Men: The Last Stand (replacing Catwoman)
    Turbo Kid (replacing The Incredible Hulk)
    The Incredibles 2 (replacing Fant4stic)

And there you have it! Now, I’ve recharged my ring and my sarcasm skills are back to full strength. I shall away to my penthouse apartment and prepare for the next instalment of BlokeBusting The Essentials. And if you see a weird man with only a small coloured bit of fabric over his eyes staring at you from your window, it’s probably not me. Promise. Ok bye!

Lego Justice League vs. Bizarro League

Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League vs. Bizarro League 2015

Starting my unintentional batch of superhero movies intended for younger audiences with the latest home video Lego movie release. There’s been a small handful of these Lego home video releases, though many of them are extremely short. Even this one clocks in at just under an hour. If you’re familiar with the Lego brand of entertainment outside of just the Lego movie then you know that it is generally filled with a large number of rapid fire gags and jokes and Bizarro League is no different. It is a bit of a misnomer though, as the entire “vs” aspect of the movie is over within just a few minutes and instead the two groups spend most of their time working together to fight Darkseid. It’s by no means a great film that you should go seek out immediately, but if you have kids of your own, this is a great way to spend an hour together and I bet you will spend quite a bit of it laughing your minifig head off. There’s even a bit of a message buried under all the laughs.
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The Lego Movie

The Lego Movie 2014

So I managed to make it out to theaters to see my first theatrical movie of 2014. It’s not exactly what you might call a “superhero movie”, but there are quite a few superheroes as supporting characters so I’ll let that slide. It’s almost more like a Lego version of the Matrix, complete with “the one” also known as “the special”, the master builders who can change the code by rearranging the Lego blocks, and-spoiler- a bit of a twist involving a second world outside the world. Aside from that, there’s a lot more laughs, a lot more heart, and a lot less violence. I loved it, my daughter Jena loved it, and my wife loved it. It’s a whole lot of fun from beginning to end.
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Justice League: War

Justice League: War 2014

Taking a quick break from the non-superhero comic book adaptations I watched a couple brand new DC Animation releases: Justice League: War and JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time. My review of Trapped in Time will be up in a couple days, but first I’m going to talk a bit about Justice League: War which is the first Animated offering from DC’s New 52 timeline offering up yet another Justice League origin story, though I haven’t read any of the New 52. Fortunately, even though a lot of it is the same thing we’ve seen more than a couple times, it’s still a fun ride. After the very dark turn in DC Animation with Dark Knight Returns and The Flashpoint Paradox, War lightens things up quite a bit while not going all the way around to being too shallow. There’s still plenty of action to be had here and they sneak in a single swear word, but the blood is kept to a minimum. It was also a nice change of pace to add Shazam into the mix, as he’s not usually one of the regulars in these movies.
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Words without pictures: A Superhero novel

Infinite Crisis by Greg Cox

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve moved to the Chicago area and am now facing an hour’s train ride each way to work. To my surprise, my sister is a moderate fan of superheroes as well and she lent me her copy of Infinite Crisis: A Novel to read. I was familiar with the storyline and the previous event Crisis on Infinite Earths in name only. This is the first superhero novel I’ve ever read. When I was in my teens/early twenties I read a ton of fantasy books, mainly all of the Forgotten Realms series that was published at the time, as well as the Weis/Hickman written Dragonlance novels and Robert Jordan’s massive Wheel of Time series. One of the things I noticed fairly early on is how much is lost without visuals. Comic books and superheroes are very much a visual medium. And I understand that fantasy can be very visual as well, but for some reason reading about superheroes without the visuals to back it up felt a lot more silly to me. Especially when you get to the fact that this novel covers a huge crossover comics event that features literally hundreds of heroes and villains and has about a dozen main characters. And on top of that, seeing Batman survive being strangled by some superhuman villain is one thing, but reading several times how he’s only surviving because of his armored neckpiece just sits the wrong way with me. But aside from a few qualms, I generally enjoyed it.

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Green Lantern: Emerald Knights

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights 2010

Back to yet another movie my wife picked out for me at the video store. Apparently she has horrible timing, as this would have fit much better right after the first two Green Lantern movies I watched, but that’s completely beside the point. In an effort to cross-market with the theatrical release of the live action Green Lantern movie, DC Animation released this animated movie, which is a compilation of other Green Lantern’s stories similar to Gotham Knight, but this movie wraps it around a central framework based on Hal Jordan telling stories to a rookie lantern. It’s well done animation on par with all of the other DC animated movies I’ve seen to this point and I really enjoyed it.

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Green Lantern: First Flight

Green Lantern: First Flight 2009

After watching the mediocre live action origin story, it made me want to revisit an earlier Green Lantern origin movie, only this one was animated and straight to home video. It was also a whole lot better. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, I really love all of the DC Animation that I’ve seen so far which ranges from pretty good to excellent. They’ve covered a lot of ground on some of the better comic book stories out there without worrying too much about being a blockbuster. They’re generally all under the supervision and occasional direction of legendary Bruce Timm. The only downside I really have with them which isn’t a major downside is that they all tend to be rather short, most of them clocking in at a little over an hour. I’m still waiting for when they have the guts to make one of these animated movies for the theaters. I imagine it’s because of the decline of 2D animation. But whatever, First Flight is still a great movie.

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Why doesn’t DC make a theatrical animated movie?

Aside from a couple of their big movies like the original Superman, and some of the Batman movies, DC has yet to really capitalize on their cast of characters in the theaters. While Marvel has had a handful of bad movies, they haven’t had many unsuccessful movies. DC however has had many flops. From Steel to Catwoman to Supergirl to Superman 3 & 4 to recent disappointments like Green Lantern and the Spirit, DC hasn’t had the best of luck with their secondary characters. But one thing that DC has going for it that fewer people know about is their amazing animation department. For the past several years, DC Animation has been cranking out some fantastic direct-to-DVD animated movies led by the talented Bruce Timm who was famously behind Batman: The Animated Series. The quality of these movies is generally very high, with great animation, great stories, and great voice acting. But the question is, why don’t they make one into a theatrical feature film?

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Green Lantern

Green Lantern 2011

After watching so many Marvel movies, I thought it was only fair to come back with a DC movie. I’ve been wanting to watch Green Lantern for a while now, I’ve heard there’s a lot of hate out there for it, but from what I’ve seen of the movie so far, I thought I would generally like it. And I was right, I did like it, but at the same time, I didn’t love it. I enjoyed the animated Green Lantern movie First Flight much better, which is a shame because Green Lantern as a character has a lot of potential and this movie took several steps in the right direction, it just didn’t get all the way there yet.

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