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Saturday, June 18, 2011
Superzeroes, Shallow Hals And Mouthwash Mishaps
Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan and Green Lantern in Martin Campbell's "Green
Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com
June 18, 2011
Martin Campbell, who directed
Royale" just five years ago, may have spun a roulette wheel from that
film in a gamble and lost, having to direct "Green Lantern" as a result.
Mr. Campbell could be forgiven if he ever were to retroactively take an Alan
Smithee credit on "Green Lantern", the D.C. Comics-based superhero which landed
on mega-sized screens and 3D yesterday across the U.S. and Canada.
If some "fans" of the NHL Stanley Cup Final-losing Vancouver Canucks hockey team
had hurled tomatoes and other assorted vegetables at the screen during this
horrendous film at late Thursday night screenings, it would have been
understandable, and infinitely preferred over the extreme and unforgivable
damage they did that night.
I don't know the comic evolution of Green Lantern but I know that in this new
film the arrogant and cocky Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is a pilot whose father
perished while flying on a mission for his country. Hal is picked by the
guardians of justice -- the Green Lantern Corps -- as the "chosen one" to get a
ring which gives special powers and save the Earth from the onslaught of the
Parallax, a shapeless overgrown mushy entity that threatens to destroy the whole
entire world. Nyah-ha-ha-ha-haaaa!
At this point come the leaps in logic: the Green Lantern Corps don't like or
respect humans, so why do they pick a human to lead this charge? And an
arrogant one at that? Whether this contradiction is in the original comic
or not -- and I wholeheartedly plead ignorance to such -- only the five
screenwriters on this film -- including a gentleman coincidentally named Michael
Green -- may know the answer to this question. (Why didn't Mr. Green star
as the title character?) Why does some of the "Green Lantern" sound and
look as if it was shot on the "As The World Turns" set?
Another thing: Hal has a nemesis Hector (Peter Sarsgaard), whose U.S. senator
father onscreen (Tim Robbins) is merely 12 years older than his acting opposite
offscreen. (This bit of wise casting is reminiscent of Angelina Jolie, who
was two or three years older than Colin Farrell but played his mother in
"Alexander" in 2004.) Note to the uninitiated: Hector is a bad seed.
He will do some bad things. Hal, who spends half the film flexing
washboard muscles, taking off masks and trying out green suits the Riddler
desperately wants back, will be on a collision course with Hector. Hal
also gets to try out the line, "By the power of Greyskull...!", which
originated, if I'm not mistaken, from the 1980s animated television series
"He-Man: Masters Of The Universe".
In other words, there are a litany of things that don't look or feel right about
"Green Lantern", a patchwork quilt which reportedly cost more than $150 million,
including its poor, retrograde visual effects.
Everyone more or less overacts in "Green Lantern" -- or makes the actors
in context look foolish. The skills and talents of Angela Bassett, a joy
in "Jumping The
Broom", Geoffrey Rush, great in the "Pirates" movies, Peter Sarsgaard,
always brilliant, and the ever-capable Mark Strong, are wasted. The
over-dramatizations by actors large and small in this indicate that any care in
directing the actors may have been fleeting. That's an especially serious
and risky charge to make, but the more exaggerated the performances the more
lifeless "Green Lantern" looks and feels. Drenched in gloomy, dank visages
that emphasize the "by blackness of night" portion of the film's tagline, the
film looks worse once the 3D glasses come off. (Yes, this horror show is
in 3D, too.)
The screenplay is poorly conceived. Characters turn on, tune in and drop
out. The backstory leaves no emotional connection for the audience to
invest in Hal or feel for him as he takes on the weight of the world on his
shoulders. Hal is synthetic, made from green cheese -- he's not there, and
as a result, neither are we. I had mentally checked out of this film after
25 minutes. This was triggered, among other things, by a Maverick/Iceman
"Top Gun" exercise designed for maximum exploitation and manipulation of several
immediate scenes that follow, and it was at that moment that I was afraid I'd be
in for a long evening.
Perhaps more than any other recent Hollywood film, "Green Lantern" symbolizes
all that is wrong with not only the superhero action-adventure film genre but
the U.S. blockbuster summer movie. The films typically do not delve deeply
enough into character, and by definition are not therefore sufficiently
relatable on an emotional level to audiences.
Any father-son themes or identity issues are cursory here, solely for
manufactured effect. There's little to no moral conflict and/or story.
Character arc is non-existent. Those moments of growth never figure into a
drab, careless enterprise such as this. Any good acting and story at all
is subsumed by often poor, yet expensive special effects. Mr. Strong's
Sinestro looks a lot like Ming The Merciless from "Flash Gordon", and I don't
know who begat whom, since "Flash" originated in the 1950s.
And the films are now typically dipped in the offending yolk of 3D -- after the
fact in post-production.
These aren't movies to me. They are industry behemoths. Cold.
Impersonal. Remote and alien to a good experience at the movies.
Where Hollywood blockbuster films used to be events that sparkled with life,
awe, fantasy and joy, for years now they've by and large been exhausting,
expensive and joyless laser shows.
Or lazy shows.
Indeed, Mr. Campbell's film is lazy, cynical and shallow, a half-baked parody of
vastly better superhero films. As a film critic it is aggravating to see a
waste of lots of money being carelessly paraded on the screen, when you know
that it could go to better use elsewhere, like say, crates of spearmint
mouthwash to get rid of the awful taste of this film.
Despite attending press screenings I will occasionally pay to see some movies
for at least three reasons: if I loved something so much I wanted to see it
again, if I missed something in the end credits or if I missed the movie
altogether and had enthusiasm enough to want to see it. I paid to see
"Green Lantern". And I wanted my money back. You love movies.
I love movies. But not an ounce of warmth in my heart could be mustered to
even like this one.
With: Blake Lively, Michael Clarke Duncan, Taika Watiti .
"Green Lantern" is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association
Of America for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action. The film's
running time is one hour and 45 minutes.
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