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20 June 2011 @ 09:45 pm
the problem with Green Lantern  

Ted and I scooted out to Green Lantern on Saturday. It was okay, which was better than I thought it would be. Ryan Reynolds is pretty cute, which helps. Blake Lively…well, really, mostly I keep getting stuck on this one shot of her where she looked so thin it actually looked physically impossible (there’s a similar shot of Angelina Jolie, perhaps in Mr & Mrs Smith but maybe in Salt), and it only occured to me lately that actually both of those might literally be physically impossible. They might’ve been edited to be that thin. Because really. Which isn’t the point. I’ll put the point behind the cut, even though I don’t think I’m really spoiling anything…

Green Lantern had a number of problems–pacing, lack of romantic chemistry between the leads (brother/sister, yes, I could get behind that relationship, but romance? not so much.), a lack of focus on any one story and an especially poor job linking the backstories for the three main characters, badly overused CGI, which is to say both bad CGI and too much of it, and a couple of others I ennumerated to Ted but can’t think of right now. However, what I see as the big problem with GL is not one that any scriptwriter could overcome, because it’s part and parcel of the character:

Superheroes and aliens together is asking too much of an audience.

Cowboys and aliens? Sure! (Especially with Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, rawr.) Aliens vs. aliens? Sure! Will Smith vs aliens? Sure! Alien hero on Earth? Sure! Superheroes vs aliens? …yeah, no.

We are already suspending our disbelief to accept superpowered people running around. Adding aliens to the mix is, as they would say here, taking the piss.

They just barely handled it right in Thor, which I had absolutely zero expectation they could (I feel the same way about gods and superheroes). But they handled it by not introducing an outside bad guy: it wasn’t Thor vs. Loki vs. Mutants, it was just Thor vs. Loki (more or less), and they’re both aliens(gods). It didn’t present another element we had to accept. And once we get to the Avengers movies, well, we know Thor’s backstory, Loki’s already been introduced, et voila, we are no longer asking your audience to swallow too much at once. This is why I was so desperately glad they didn’t go the comic book alien Phoenix entity route with the hinted introduction of Phoenix in X2. Sudden leap forward in mutant evolution: sure! ALIEN INFESTED MUTANTS? Not so much.

I understand that there is absolutely no way to get around this problem in Green Lantern. I don’t think they handled it as well as they could have even so, but I think they’d have been much better off with a considerably simplified story that didn’t really leave Earth and let Hal Jordan feel his way into the (uselessly green glowy) suit without (further) alien intervention (dying alien coulda told him how the ring works before he died, for example, thus making the trip to Oma unnecessary) until the end, when perhaps the Corps come to examine this new Lantern who’s been chosen.

Anyway, so yes. It’s too much, and they didn’t handle it well. And now I’ve stayed up basically an hour later than I meant to, so if there was going to be any wrap-up to this post, this is it: G’night.

(x-posted from the essential kit)

 
 
 
Alix (Tersa): Hazel-Rah (tersa)tersa on June 20th, 2011 04:57 pm (UTC)
Green Lantern was one of those superheroes from my childhood I knew 'of', but not well, and nothing I've seen in the ads has made me terribly excited to see it (the one point that I did vaguely fistpump at was Hal turning to the Token Female--Blake Lively, I guess--and saying "Stay here" and her agreeing to do so, because I am TIRED of Mere Mortal being asked to stay out of danger and then running into it anyway because I'M AWESOME TOO and therefore becoming endangered and Must Be Saved).

And now everyone I know who has seen it has said the movie is simply 'meh', so I'm not even sure I want to watch it as a rental. :)

(I mean, if the CGI isn't even good, then what's the point?)
Lady Doomlithera on June 20th, 2011 05:17 pm (UTC)
My personal thoughts here were that this movie/script were edited to death. All of the possible charm and wonder were beaten out of it likely by a) people trying to make the 'fans' happy and b) trying to pander to what they thought would sell. I think you can sell a space super hero. I mean, it happens all of the time and Tomar-Re was totally charming.

Also, I think that we spend to much time with Hal having confidence issues and not enough with him training, becoming a Lantern, knowing what to do... I mean, he wins at the end and all but if not for a toss away line, he'd never have done it. I think that Oa and the rest of the Corps are essential to what Green Lantern is - Space Cops, or perhaps better stated Space Marshals because the fringe is wild out there.

It also does not help that Hal Jordan is the most boring Green Lantern of them all.
Lauratavella on June 20th, 2011 05:49 pm (UTC)
This is, frankly, why they should have used Kyle. His story doesn't really leave the Earth until later installments, his arc actually *is* the doubting himself and overcoming fear, rather than Hal who like the other Lanterns is supposed to not *feel* fear. And while Ryan Reynolds wouldn't be my personal pick for GL, he'd fit as Kyle a hell of a lot better than as Hal.
pgwfolcpgwfolc on June 20th, 2011 05:57 pm (UTC)
The reviews seem to pretty much universally pan it.

But I'm not convinced that superheroes and aliens are too much. I mean, heck: Superman. (Moviewise, Superman II.) I've seen the argument that mixing "superhero" with "space cop" is a bit much, and that I can sort of see. But, actually, I wonder if that's the best rebuttal to your point here: Hal is a space cop. Chosen by aliens to join their corps, and to fight with them. Not so different from, say, Last Starfighter. Except that he has a colorful skintight uniform.

However, it is possible to do it without the aliens. One option is to have the aliens only at the beginning, to explain where the ring comes from, and then leave him to be a superhero on Earth (much like Greatest American Hero). But then fans would be pissed off that their favorite alien characters (hello, Kilowog!) were left out. The way to get around that is to use the other option: Alan Scott.

The other problem with GL is that he's granted a magic ring that can make literally anything, and he generally uses it to make giant green fists. (Though rumor has it early scripts for this movie had him make a female construct for his roommate to "play" with. I'm glad they cut that.)
Lady Doomlithera on June 20th, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC)
BTW - here is my recommendation for where to start for Green Lantern comics: http://www.popbunker.net/2011/06/read-green-lantern-comics/ I really, really, personally recommend the Tales of the Corps and the Showcase Vol #5.
cawing of a corbie: sparkliecorvidophile on June 20th, 2011 06:34 pm (UTC)
i found the love interest areas rather stilted and not quite meshing right too.

but i LOVE that they put in the Green Corps. and since Sinestro is such a big villain-to-be, i'm glad that they put him in at the beginning. hopefully there will be a next one and they'll continue to expand on the jealousy of Hal Jordan.

and i'm doubly glad that they associated "yellow" with fear instead of it being that the colour yellow itself was a danger to the Corps. which is as ridiculous as the original danger being wood. seriously, wtf?

i found the CG to be a bit lame in parts, and killing of Parallax was very.... anti-climatic. thats when they needed to pull out the big guns of green power, and it just fizzled.

i wouldn't say it was horrible, but it wasn't fantastic. and i think of the superhero movies so far that this years' X-Men was way better, and CG-wise i think that Transformers will be kicking butt.
rfrancis on June 20th, 2011 08:29 pm (UTC)
So, no X-Men vs Brood movie for you, then?
Amberley: pic#51293908 playamberley on June 21st, 2011 12:28 am (UTC)
And yet, still better than Darkest Night mega-crossover
With 7 screenwriters credited there was no doubt the story would be a mess, not to mention Hollywood's bizarre fixation on father issues in superhero stories (Thor gets a pass).

Not knowing how to tell a story, they threw everything at the wall and hoped some of it would stick, or at least be covered up the CGI. I think the alien backstory is a big waste of the audience's "Who are these people and why do we care about them?" budget, which only stretches so far.

I agree it's wise to leave the Shi'ar out of Phoenix's backstory in the X-films. I don't recall the Brood being involved; those came along years later in the Paul Smith era, providing a less-dorky costume for Wolverine.
Trent the Uncatchable: comicsknappenp on June 21st, 2011 12:09 pm (UTC)
I wanted them to stick to the original storyline, which doesn't throw GL into space, for just that reason - introduce enough for an audience to accept, but don't push it too far. 3600 alien races? Too much to handle for the first movie. Save the Corps for the sequel - 'What do you mean I'm not the only one? I'm just a small fish in the universal ocean? Oh no! Personal crisis!'

The concept of yellow = fear is from the more recent ring mythology too, I think. Maybe they'll give us all the other colors in the sequel. If there's a sequel.
(Deleted comment)
kitmizkit on June 22nd, 2011 03:12 am (UTC)
Oma, Oa, Uma, Oprah, whatever. :)