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Friday, 30 May 2014

Green Lantern (2011).

Green Lantern (2011).

How do I … Is there any way to code for sparkly neon … Does Blogger have that …

Okay, no, no, it does not, right.

This is the best DC comics film of recent years.

There. Okay. I said it. It's probably not a popular opinion, judging by the fact that this film is one of the worst box office bombs in history (which is how I picked it for my review, actually), but it's one I hold. This is better than Man of Steel. This is better than Nolan's Batman trilogy. This is better than – have there actually been any other DC films lately? Er, answers on a postcard, I suppose.

It's not even as if I don't like those films, but the common thread in all of them is that they seemed ashamed of their source material. They were constantly cringing back on themselves, going 'Oh god, I'm sorry, I'm really sorry about Superman being so silly, oh god, I know, I know, it's stupid, just bear with us and we'll bring you some explosions and – I mean that not killing thing is silly, right? It's silly, we're silly, please don't hate us.' 

The entire Green Lantern Corp is judging you, DC.

Jesus Christ, DC, you are one of the largest comic book companies in the world, grow a spine. Look at Marvel, they don't do this: By jove, they revel in the inherent absurdity of their premises. They wear it like a badge of honour, because why shouldn't they? It's awesome in large part because it's silly, and over the top, and runs off the Rule of Cool.

Green Lantern is not like that. Green Lantern knows what it is – a silly, explosion-filled action film with some good opportunity for swarms of really alien looking Lanterns and a likeable protagonist. It knows it's dorky. It preserves its dorkiness. The silliness of it works, too. The whole film works, actually. It's never going to be on anyone's Top Ten Best Movies List, but it's a lulzy action film that you don't have to think about, and it plays that role well.

I liked Hal, I liked Carol, I loved Sinestro and thought Mark Strong was a stand-out performance amongst an already strong cast, I thought Parallax was a surprisingly effective villain for essentially being Giant Evil Doom Face Satan, I thought the special effects were adequate and sometimes stunning, and I thought the scenes on Oa were superb, with some pleasantly alien designs for many of the Lanterns. 

Guys, have you noticed that Sinestro looks like the Devil, is
played by a villain actor, and has an evil name?

There was a lot I did like about this film.

But there are things I didn't like. Let's run through those, quickly.

One. The first fifteen minutes of this film is intolerable dross and I would blame not a single man, woman or child if they walked out of their cinema and ate all the staff in Hannibal-esque fashion before it was over. It is every exhausted, painful cliché rammed into quarter of an hour and tacked onto the front of the film with an expectant expression. It has a dramatic opening narration with glow-y visuals, it has an ancient evil being accidentally freed by being walked over, it has the hero as a child being given life guidance by his father, it has that same child receiving a memento that he's told to keep safe just before his father dies tragically in front of him, and good god almighty did I want every single character in this entire section to be decapitated by flying rubble before their bodies were lost forever in the fiery burning fire flames of the air strip.

It is bad. It is some of the worst film-making I have ever seen, and I watched The Wolverine literally last week. If the opening of a film is meant to be that film putting its best foot forward, this film put its worst foot forward, and that foot is a meat-grinder, and it steps on your toes and then, screaming its apologies, tips forward into a clumsily executed somersault and kicks you in the face.

It's also an entire eighth of the film. One eighth is a lot of a film's run time, and it was spent sapping my energy with some of the dullest storytelling this side of The Last Airbender. 

1.5, people with huge foreheads scare me.

Two. Who is that random child that Hal knows? I'm sure they mention it at some point, but everyone is mumbling and then he never shows up again, leaving me to assume that upon wandering out of that bedroom where he and Hal had a chat, he was devoured by a whale.

Three. Why on Earth would Sinestro bother with the Yellow Power Ring, which he only wants to defeat Parallax, after Parallax was defeated? Actually, if Parallax can be defeated by throwing him into the sun, why didn't they just do that in the first place instead of sealing him in the most easily escaped prison of all time?

Did suns not exist when he was sealed away? Were there no suns?

Four. Actually, just in general, there are plot holes everywhere here. Everywhere. You could fit the entirety of Oa through them.

Five. Jesus, those first fifteen minutes are literally never relevant again. Never. Okay, they turn up in an early scene in a plane as flashbacks, but the flashbacks serve almost no plot purpose.

Six. You know, you set up the Core as an energy force powerful enough to defeat Parallax if he didn't eat some fear to power up halfway through the film, why not use that to defeat him instead of the sun? Do you Chekhov's Gun, bro?

Well. That was nice to get off my chest.

I don't think the negatives outweigh the positives this time, though. It's not a perfect film, by any means, and I did go in with very low expectations, so satisfying me may not have been all that tough, but I enjoyed it. A lot. I would watch a sequel.

With more Hal, and no Guy Gardner. Maybe John Stewart too.

On DVD, though, not in the cinema, I'm – I'm not willing to put that level of effort into seeing it, it wasn't that good. 

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