Friday, January 6, 2012

[Freya-dæg] The Green Lantern

The Green Lantern. A celebrated series of comic books and a huge part of the Marvel comic universe. And with the release of the hotly anticipated Avengers movie this Spring, it was necessary to first introduce yet another of this super hero gang with his own movie. Enter a film that has perhaps been one of the rockets on the shuttle in which Ryan Reynolds was launched into true stardom, yet has very little going for it otherwise.

So. What's wrong with the Green Lantern movie as such? Well. Although the comic on which it is based traces its lineage all the way back to the Golden Age of comics (it started in July, 1940) when things were simpler and lines between villain and hero were fairly well drawn, not much was done to update this line. The major villain in the movie, Hector Hammond, is the less successful son of a senator who is called in to study the corpse of Abin Sur (the Green Lantern who bequeaths his ring on our cheese-grater ab-ed hero, Hal Jordan). During the autopsy a piece of the big bad Parallax attaches itself to Hector and begins to mutate him while also granting him psychic abilities.

This villain ultimately seeks what most villains do in the simpler movie adaptations of comic books: acceptance. From his father, from the love interest that is shared with Hal, from the wider scientific community. Of course, this desire for acceptance is left unfulfilled since his mutation turns him into a grotesque. And this is where the line between villain and hero is much too thick for my liking.

To have the villain not only make it clear who he is through his actions is one thing, but to try to remove all hope for his redemption by making him into an insane visual caricature of someone bent on acceptance pushes the portrayal too far into the realm of the painfully obvious. Like putting a reluctant walnut on a train track to crack it open, the movie adaptation of the Green Lantern is unfamiliar with subtlety.

And yes, as with the walnut and the train, this does throw the movie off of its tracks.

But what good can be said about the movie? Surely, as with anything, there must be something that is decent or worthwhile about it.

Well, there isn't much in this case. As you might remember from my review/revival of the movie Priest, the Green Lantern is the first film that I thought was done poorly but that nonetheless made me feel interested in the original story's mythology and detail (hence the "Green Lantern Effect" mentioned in the entry on Priest). Is this enough for me to consider this one saved? I really don't think so.

I mean, it's one thing to create interest where there was little before, but that's just not enough good to save a film. It's like eating a dish involving butternut squash that you end up hating but somehow finding out through the experience that you really like butternut squash. You'll probably go out and eat more butternut squash, but I would guess that you'd never get that dish again. I would honestly re-watch Priest to get a better look at the ideas and aspects of pacing that I liked. Would I re-watch the Green Lantern? No. The spark of interest is really all that I got from it and that spark isn't enough to merit a re-watch. Just as it is not enough to merit this one's being saved.

Freya, if you will, just leave this one down there. I think the worms and rats will get more use out of it than anyone else ever could.

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