How Green Was My Super 8 Lantern? June 21, 2011 – Posted in: A Picture's Worth, Blog, Featured Columns
Going in to see GREEN LANTERN, I was singing this (to the tune of the GREEN ACRES TV show theme):
Green Lantern is the film to see
Ryan Reynolds is the hero for me
It’s been selling out far and wide
Keep your Marvels, just show me that DC pride!
Instead, when I left the theater, I found myself repeating that decades-old oath:
In brightest day, in blackest night
No DC character shall be filmed right
Unless its name is The Dark Knight
Beware the power–of execs who think they’re bright!
Don’t get me wrong: I liked it. The film was good. Just not as great as I thought it would or could be.
For context, I hadn’t read a GL comic pretty much since the ancient (and brilliant) Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams run in back issues. In the meantime I had read plenty of articles on the character, the book and its continuity. But over the years it became just like every other superhero franchise: so convoluted, so complex, so ridiculously ret-conned by corporate-marketing desperation “events” and crossovers (aka fan wallet-vacuums), it not only defied rational explanation but thwarted any attempt at catching up. Think I’m exaggerating? Just read any of the “serious” articles on the continuity of any decades-old corporate superhero brand (Spider-Man, X-Men, Hulk, Superman, Batman, Thor, Justice League, Wonder Woman, Flash, Captain America, you name it), or better yet, ask any adult fan who knows it to explain it to you and I defy you to keep a straight face or keep your eyes from rolling…IF you don’t pass out from confusion-induced ennui first.
So I figured the movie would be more focused on entertaining rather than exposition. Turns out, not so much. It opened with a fairly long narrative which to me is often a sign of “uh-oh.” (Granted, THOR did too, but thankfully it was briefer and recovered.) Visually, it was spectacular. The production design was just a step below THOR but easily more impressive than X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, which was necessarily understated. I’m a sucker for cool outer-space effects, so GL did a nice job on that.
Unlike many fans, I dug the costume too. Other than a bit of weirdness with the browline of the mask, I thought Reynolds looked great as the character. I even thought the green and white contact lenses worked well and helped conceal his identity. He acted well and so did Peter Saarsgard as Hector Hammond (with whom I was completely unfamiliar and didn’t care for).
The main villain/monster, Parallax, was also well done and looked impressive, formidable and sometimes scary. (Though my understanding is that in the comic, Hal Jordan became Parallax, went on a killing spree, died, came back as The Spectre, and then came back as Green Lantern. Did your eyes just roll?)
But something just wasn’t there…I didn’t care as much about the characters. Sinestro didn’t make a lot of sense, especially at the end. And the story didn’t strike me as that impressive, especially considering three guys came up with it and four guys wrote the script. (Same with THOR but again, I think they did a better job.)
To me, the SPIDER-MAN and DARK KNIGHT approaches work better, with more of a singlar vision. Let the creators just create, not by committee.
Most interesting to me about GREEN LANTERN is that plot-wise, there weren’t any real major holes or issues with suspension of disbelief, like their were with SUPER 8, which I saw last weekend.
Yet the latter was a much better film! More memorable and enjoyable overall.