February 5, 2012

Sice of PIE: How the Experts Hated GREEN LANTERN and Why I Disagree

Far be it from me to disagree with the Expert movie rankers at io9 (http://io9.com/5812464/green-lantern-wants-to-be-star-wars-but-its-more-like-the-star-wars-prequels), but in this case I have to.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE this site 95% of the time! More often than not, I agree with their assessment of the world, except when it strays into the political and they grant themselves “expert” weight on their opinions.

But I have strong feelings about Green Lantern and I’m going to try and take one critique at a time and give a bit of evidence to counter it.

1)      “Ryan Reynolds keeps comparing Green Lantern, out today, to the original Star Wars.” While this is certainly a grand opinion, it doesn’t really have anything to do with the merits of the movie itself. In truth, what do you expect? He’s the star, he SHOULD be comparing it to something great; while hubris probably led him to link it with a classic, this isn’t really a strike against the movie per se.

2)     “Total lack of plot logic”. This is a pretty strong statement. On my personal scale, Moonstruck (and Gosford Park) rank at the bottom as the least comprehensible movies that reached the most incomprehensible endings I’ve ever seen. Stranger Than Fiction is the movie for me with the most complicated plot that reached the greatest surprise ending. While GL isn’t STF, it’s not M or GP, either. (Movie reviewers are allowed to be cryptic!) Somewhere between, I think it’s better than STAR WARS 1, 2 and 3 but less than Back To The Future I.

3)     “Lack of any meaningful character progression for its hero, Hal Jordan”. This accusation can be leveled at pretty much every movie produced in Hollywood today including several that have won Oscars, Emmys and Golden Globes (I don’t believe those Expert critics ever tender unanimous opinions, either). On the other hand, it’s incumbent upon me to note that Hal goes from being a total douchebag at the beginning of the movie whilst sleeping with some airhead or other and offering her lukewarm tap water as a post-coital breakfast; to a different man at the end, willing to make a serious attempt at growing up.

4)     CG overload, which reduces Ryan Reynolds to a human head floating in a sea of cheese; “Ryan Reynolds' disembodied face spends large chunks of Green Lantern floating around in an ocean of computer-animated cheese.” See #10

5)     “It has no story to tell. The makers of this film made a bold choice, to throw away the traditional ‘superhero movie origin story’ paradigm in favor of something more ambitious. And unfortunately, they showed why the "origin story" formula works so well, and why it's so hard to find alternatives. Also, they went overboard trying to stuff as many elements from the comics into one film as possible, instead of taking a scalpel to the[m]…” I would agree. But can an attempt to do TOO much be held against a film? Batman didn’t hit the right note until recently despite starting in 1966 (eight times until the current highly anticipated movie [http://www.superheroeslives.com/indexbatman.htm]). There’s plenty of story to tell and plenty of stories to draw from – otherwise the strip wouldn’t have lasted for 61 years. The first attempt shouldn’t stop the whole thing cold!

6)     The “overgrown GL mythos.” See #5.

7)      “…dull, soulless and smothered with computerized blandness. Not to mention a ‘Lake of Naboo’-style romance and dull character conflicts.” Because they don’t punch each other constantly does that make it dull? Truth be told, I very rarely beat my friends these days. Most of the conflict I experience is internal and involves speaking and hardly ever giant green Thor hammers. While there is absolutely room for improvement, I DO know Ryan Reynolds is capable of good acting (Buried, The Proposal and Wolverine). He needs a solid script that explores his powers and his reactions to them – and maybe he can try again. I’d be HAPPY to see it. As to the romance – while hardly the depth of Bogie and Bergman in Casablanca – he went from sleeping around to an attempt to grow a relationship that stalled because he couldn’t get past the daddy issues. He’s got the will power, now we need to give Hal and Carol a chance to work out their relationship in the shadow of his father’s violent death – and whatever skeleton’s she has in her closet. As to the accusation of being ‘soulless’, it had enough soul for me. But then, I’m not an Expert.

8)    “Reynolds' face tells the entire story, he works overtime to try and convey what's actually going on. Reynolds' face looks freaked out, or determined, or sometimes kind of constipated” The critique answers itself a few words later, “Hal has to defeat the monster by getting past his own emotional hang ups. This is kind of hard to convey on the screen”. So he gets creamed for not being able to convey an internal struggle? Hmmmm – I believe Keanau Reeves has been accused of that at least once. Or twice. Or more…hardly a deadly indictment. Again, we know he can act. He needs a script to act with, a director who can pull greatness out of him and some coaching to sharpen the facial movements. Maybe from Buster Keaton (if only!) or Jim Carey…

9)     “Abstract art about daddy issues.” And the problem is...that everyone on Earth deals with “daddy issues”. It’s why most of our gods are male father figures – we get to rant at them because we can’t bring ourselves to confront our own fathers (or for those of us who are fathers, we can’t bring ourselves to rant at ourselves). (also see #10 below) Neither one of these is the basis for panning a film. What Green Lantern NOW needs is someone with proven skills who can write a script in which Hal Jordan can deal with his issues, like say for instance the writer of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

10)  “most of the time when we see Hal using his power, it's a computer-generated effect against a computer background. So it just looks like a bunch of CG effects bouncing off each other.” And Toy Story and Harry Potter and the Blah, Blah, Blah was…what?

11)  “this film is low on thrills, especially in its final act. There's nothing on the level of the final duel with Darth Maul in this film.” *WHEW!* and for that we can be thankful! I’d hate to have watched 80 minutes of drivel to reach 2 minutes of spectacular. Again.

12)  “the movie's main villain a big sentient cloud”…and THE ABYSS’s main villain was a big sentient water bed. The problem is? It’s not that I liked Parallax, I’d have preferred a humanoid at least. The problem was that the writers didn’t take as much time fleshing out the villain as they should have. The thing was moderately satisfying, but I’d like to have seen more...(See #8)

13) “…they were also the generation that gave us awesome 1980s action movies, in which fight scenes were bloody and brilliant.” This is written as if the mentality that brought us “buckets-o-blood” HALLOWEEN (1-7 million), TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, and FRIDAY THE 13th (1-7 million) was a good thing, right?

All in all, I’m willing to admit that Green Lantern wasn’t Downton Abbey. I am NOT willing to admit that it ranks as low as Eragon.

Thank you for your support.

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