Yeah it's taken me awhile to get back to this I know, but what can I say...been wrapped up in reading Grant Morrison's "Supergods", started to reread "The Invisibles" but decided to wait until I can devote an entire day to immerse myself in that whole other world, also got my hands on Andrew Hickey's "An Incomprehensible Condition: Unauthorised Guide to Seven Soldiers", and have been trying to catch up on a lot of reading when it comes to "Flashpoint" and "Fear Itself" (yes I am ACTUALLY trying to read every tie-in for both events). So suffice it to say (man I abuse that phrase) I haven't taken the additional time to sit down and go back over the other two movies, "Green Lantern" & "Captain America".
So let's get this party started with:
"Green Lantern" opened up to the masses here in the United States on June 17th and I, of course, went to the midnight show once again. There's just something about being in that environment, with fellow devotees to comic book lore, who are just excited to see their favorite ink-and-paper characters brought to life in live-action/CG glory. Now this is the movie I was most excited to see, thusly the one I was also the most worried about. The initial trailers did nothing to assuage my fears, seeming more like I was going to bear witness to a Ryan Reynolds comedy than a super hero action flick.
Luckily the successive trailers showed me more of the film, and actually made me more excited to see it than I was with the first sneak peek. So in I roll to the film and when the final credits rolled, I was left with a movie I enjoyed more than "Thor" but nowhere near as much as "X-Men: First Class".
I was actually surprised by how Reynolds captured the Hal Jordan I would expect at this early juncture in his ring slinging. I'm only a convert to the GL mythos with "Rebirth" and the Geoff Johns era so my touchstone for Hal's origins is the "Secret Origin" story from a few years back, but I felt like Reynolds got it pretty close. There's some cheese to Reynold's acting sure, and add in the fact that I can't watch him without thinking about Van Wilder, but overall I feel like he captured the essence of a rookie Hal Jordan.
Even more surprising to me was Blake Lively as Carol Ferris, shocking casting move given the MTV world she came from, and even more shocking the job she did as Carol. Chalk it up to low expectations if you want, but I felt like she more than delivered on her end of things, particularly in Carol's scenes with Hal Jordan.
Peter Sarsgaard was the best part of the movie for me though. His Hector Hammond was creepy to the Nth degree, playing out his role as the abandoned son quite well, and I really felt like he could have carried the film as the sole villain with only enough Parallax to establish his malevolent presence as the larger threat to the GL Corps. The movie only scraped the surface of what Hammond is capable of, but then again, just like Hal, he was so new to his powers that it makes sense he wouldn't have mastered his psionic abilities just yet.
I thought Mark Strong did as well a job as possible with Sinestro as he could with the screen time given. He strongly establish the very regal nature of Sinestro, and captured his authoritarian demeanor quite well. Strong brings to the screen a presence worthy of the "greatest Green Lantern", and the script developed a strong character...at least until that little between-credits scene that came out of nowhere and didn't fit into any of what had been established about Sinestro's character. It was a moment to pop the comic book fans who know the future path of Sinestro, and to set-up a sequel.
Now as for the finer moments of the movie, I certainly appreciated little nods to the comics like the "Highball" & "Sapphire" tags on the helmets of Hal & Carol and playing Spot-The-Lantern during all the Oa scenes, but there was a certain something missing from the movie as a whole. The space scenes were a tease, but I figure that's something intentional, and complaints I heard/read about Hal's limited use of his power ring aren't without merit, but then again we're also dealing with a guy in his first few days with the ring.
Was it only a few days? Was it longer? I don't know honestly, and maybe that's one of the issues with the movie....there's so much time spent in the set-up, that everything else just feels so compressed. Hal travels to space, blows off the Guardians & his training, Hammond gets infected, Parallax rather abruptly descends on Earth, one off-handed comment about gravity sets up the end of the movie (really transparent, I honestly called that as the end of the big fight as soon as it was stated), and Carol pretty much figures out Hal's secret immediately. That was a moment I really didn't mind though as sometimes it's nice for the female lead to actually not be fooled by something as simple as a mask. GL-philes would tell you that the ring clouds the bearer's face to the general populus but it was a nice change to have Carol get it.
The big Parallax fight was...not so big given the immensity of the villain we're talking about here. I immediately hated the character design as it just reminded me of the Galactus cloud from "FF: Rise Of The Silver Surfer", but resigned myself to someone along the lines of production not wanting a yellow bug to be the big bad of the GL-Verse. And apparently killing off the main evil force of the GL comics in the first flick seemed an odd choice, but the movie didn't really establish the whole avatar of fear concept behind Parallax. Guess that falls on Sinestro's shoulders which, as I stated earlier, didn't really fit with what had gone before. The Sinestro presented throughout the movie was a staunch supporter of the Guardians and, despite their unwillingness to go along with his yellow ring idea, it was never even remotely hinted that Sinestro would turn his back on the Guardians or feel like he had something to prove by harnassing the power of fear. It just did not fit at all within the confines of the character that had been presented for the previous two hours, and was truly just a fanboy moment tacked on to motivate a sequel.
So what did I take out of this movie in the end? One word: potential. The groundwork was laid for at least one sequel but "Green Lantern" was certainly not the foundation in which to establish a whole DCU movie-verse a la Marvel Films & The Avengers franchise. I foresee a Hal Jordan spending time on Oa to further train, I see a true space odyssey involving the whole GL Corps (who were teased just enough to establish some personalities), and I see a massive CG war between them & the Sinestro Corps. Only problem is the chronological confines of cinema don't really allow for the time it would take for Sinestro to truly build a Corps of his own. They would likely just...be....after a time gap between the 1st & 2nd films.
That what's so wonderful about the medium of comics, Sinestro could fade away into the background for awhile after donning the yellow ring, popping up in snippets here & there as he recruits masters of fear to his Corps, but only after having a serious falling out with the Guardians over something that actually justifies the "greatest of the Lanterns" being expelled.
See that may actually be the problem with certain comics translated to movies. As fans we take it for granted that people know the origin stories of every character, and while that may be true for certain characters like Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man who have transcended the medium and become part of our cultural lexicon, our fashion branding, and with logos so well known that even a child who has never read a comic book in their life recognizes what that "S" represents.
Green Lantern is not one of those characters, which is what made him an odd choice for that first big non-Batman WB movie. We wanted space-faring, ring-slinging high adventure right off the bat, but got relationship-establishment and origin stories instead...something for the masses. Now, that doesn't necessarily excuse the shortcomings of the film, but it may play into the disappointment from certain things we expected to witness as viewers. Yes we were kind of short-changed when it came to the amazing feats a GL ring is capable of, and maybe I'm being a little forgiving in accepting that it will be part of the inevitable...now being tagged as "gritty" (ugh) sequel. Still, I think I'm more curious to see what sort of larger epic they lay out with the GL Movie-verse and hoping that it all ties together in the long run. Perhaps that's a side effect of reading Geoff John's GL comic books =)
But, I guess what it comes down is will I buy the Blu-Ray and rewatch it? Of course I will, and not just because I'm a completist fanboy, but also so I can formulate a second opinion. I haven't watched the movie since my initial viewing on day one, and am quite curious to see if my thoughts remain the same. Hell I didn't mind "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" on the first theatrical viewing, but thought it total dross when I bought the Blu-Ray and was dumbfounded how I found anything enjoyable about it the first time around. Repeat viewing can change your opinion after all...it took me three viewings in one day to realize that "Phantom Menace" was NOT a good movie.
So I will aim to come back this week with my thoughts on Captain America...hopefully that actually happens and it doesn't take two weeks to get my butt in gear! In the mean time, I would also suggest you check out this little blog written by Greg Rucka as it pertains to "gritty": "Gritty" & Greg Rucka