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Posts Tagged ‘Green Lantern’

Oa Boy

June 29th, 2011 No comments

The modern movie industry is a looking-glass universe in which making $93 million in 12 days is seen as a crushing disappointment. That’s the outlook for Green Lantern, Warner Bros.’ attempt to gear up its own integrated superhero movie franchise ala Marvel’s grand Avengers initiative.

I came of age in the era of Christopher Reeve’s Superman, which not only proved that a man could fly, but that a superhero could power a big budget Hollywood film. Yet I could never have imagined a summer like 2011, which kicked off with a Kenneth Branagh-directed Thor and saw $300 million lavished to make and market a Green Lantern flick.

And, really, that may have been a big part of the problem. There’s no good reason to spend that much green on a B-list hero like DC’s intragalactic cop.

Bear me out; I like Green Lantern. I’m not interested in his recent adventures–which put him at the center of an absurdly convoluted War Between the Colors–but the basic premise of an Earthman drafted into a legion of space peacekeepers is rock-solid.

GL has become more prominent in recent years–comics fans apparently love seeing a box of ring-slinging Crayolas duke it out–yet to the general public he’s relatively obscure.

Of course, so was Iron Man. But that one had Robert Downey, Jr. And it didn’t cost 300 extra-large.

I didn’t see Green Lantern until the second weekend*–practically an epoch as far as the studio beancounters are concerned. While it wasn’t in any way the disaster that reviews suggested, I could see right away why it didn’t catch on with an audience that doesn’t know the planet Oa from a hole in the ground.

Has any truly good movie started off with a voiceover infodump? Green Lantern opens by way of a portentous  recitation of the history of the Guardians of the Universe and the all-consuming villain Parallax. The first ten minutes or so are all CGI aliens on green-screened backgrounds in a look unpopularized by the Star Wars prequels.

Once Ryan Reynolds shows up as hotshot pilot with a destiny Hal Jordan things pick up, but the script doesn’t give him enough opportunities to exploit his considerable charm. It doesn’t help that his romantic interest Carol Ferris is played by a block of wood Blake Lively.

Really, there’s nothing all that wrong with Green Lantern. No one is phoning it in.** There’s an effort to faithfully replicate the comics experience, complete with familiar supporting characters such as Sinestro, Kilowog and Tomar Re. (And if there’s anything almost as surprising as Kenneth Branagh directing a movie about The Mighty Thor, it’s hearing Geoffrey Rush voicing the fish-headed Tomar Re, introduced as a random alien Lantern in a 1961 issue.) When the slinging of the ring begins, it’s an entertaining spectacle.

While Warner Bros. suggests that we haven’t seen the last of Green Lantern, I find it hard to believe that they’ll follow up this movie with anything other than a direct-to-DVD sequel. Which is too bad, I think; this is a superhero movie that did a lot of things right even if if it didn’t add up to greatness.

*Instead, I had the opportunity to see Super 8 in IMAX. And I’m very glad that I did. It was an excellent Spielbergian throwback that benefited greatly from the extra-large, extra-sharp image.

**Even the block of wood acquits herself given her natural handicap of being made of pine.

Batman Digs This Day

January 5th, 2009 No comments

It’s a good time to be a fan of old-school DC superheroes. In addition to the torrent of Showcase Presents reprint volumes, there’s also this:

Bat-Manga is a collection of Batman ephemera produced when the ’60s live-action series was introduced to Japan. While it includes many arresting candy and toy package illustrations–including some curiously ugly depictions of Robin the Boy Wonder–the real prize is the assortment of rare comics. I’m by no means a manga fan, but the chance to read Batman filtered through the insane lens of Speed Racer-era Japanese pop culture was too much for me for pass up. Forget about the Joker and Two-Face, this book features villains such as Professor Gorilla and Lord Death Man, and that’s at least three flavors of awesome.

“Three flavors of awesome” also describes Batman: The Brave and the Bold, which clocked in with another new episode last Friday, “The Day of the Dark Knight.” It wasn’t enough to feature the Silver Age versions of Bats and Green Arrow squaring off against Jack Kirby’s Etrigan the Demon, no sir. The teaser sequence had the Caped Crusader on Oa, the home planet of the Guardians of the Universe, and included cameo appearances from pretty much every Silver and Bronze Age alien Green Lantern…including Ch’p, the squirrel Green Lantern! But even that’s not the reason this episode maxed out the Awesometer.

Nope, that was the scene that I screen-capped above, in which Batman and Green Arrow foiled a mass prison break of what appeared to be just about every villain from the ’60s live-action Batman series. You can see the Mad Hatter (a comics villain that was featured prominently on the TV show) getting clocked by a Batarang above, but right behind him is the Minstrel, the Bookworm and Clock King. Other recognizable faces in the scene were Egghead, King Tut, False Face, the Siren, and Louis the Lilac!

The entire episode is available online for a few days. Check it out!