Movie Review – Green Lantern

This is my spoiler-free review of Green Lantern which released this week in theaters.

First of all: “When will DC/Warner Bros. figure out the right formula for a good superhero movie?” So far, in recent memory anyway, the only successful franchise is Batman.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Green Lantern, nearly as much as Superman Returns, but neither film reaches it’s full potential.

Green Lantern is visually amazing. Even the 3D is done right. You can tell that just about all of it’s $300 million dollar budget was spent on the visuals, computer or otherwise (oh, sure Ryan Reynolds isn’t cheap nowadays either). The movie really captures the look and feel of the comic book series, which I was an avid reader of in the late 1980’s. It looks like a photo-realistic version of each and every colorful page.

The film also captures the spirit of the comic series as well, even if it does deviate ever-so-slightly from the true origins of the books, but that’s to be expected with film adaptations and we as comic book fans have learned to overlook the subtle details.

The problems with the film lie in the plot itself. The story feels very rushed. It finds it necessary to make use of a narrated prologue to introduce the viewer to the history of the Green Lantern Corps. Then the story takes off from there, almost in a rush to get to it’s climatic finale. There are some really good moments, especially as our hero Hal Jordan (GL’s alter-ego/secret identity if you didn’t know) discovers his powers and his subsequent induction into and training by the Corps. But, I can’t help to think that a casual viewer (non-comic book or sci-fi fan) might feel cheated and somewhat left unsatisfied by the comic book style pacing.

The performances are good as well. Blake Lively, who plays Carol Ferris, Hal’s pilot friend/supervisor/ pseudo-girlfriend , does a fine job. She pulls off the balance to Jordan’s wild-card pilot attitude. Ryan Reynolds in the title role does a fantastic job. It’s not a stretch for the actor to play the pretty, witty, and charming Hal Jordan, and he is a convincing GL, although the film almost takes the “lower-your-voice-so-that-no-one-knows-who-you-are” road, but recovers by playing it off as one of the films funnier moments.

The real stand out here is Peter Sarsgaard as Dr. Hector Hammond. The character is the cliché – boy longs to get the girl he can never have, and be the hero he could never be, but Sarsgaard pours the conflict and down right crazy into the role and subtly steals the show.

Other bit parts are done quite well, including those of Tim Robbins, Angela Bassett, and Mark Strong.

I think you have to, not only be a fan of comics to enjoy this film, but a fan of early DC Comics as well. The line lacks the edgy, hardcore grit that Marvel Comics have always brought, thereby making them less accessible to the mainstream audience.

The movie (as expected) does set itself up for a sequel, but I bet judging by the reviews it’s gotten already, Warner Bros. Might be hard pressed to “green light” (like what I did there?) another Green Lantern.

Overall, a fun movie, with a decent story and good acting, but far from the best superhero story put to film.

Movie Review – Super 8

*Spoiler Free Review

When a group of aspiring kid filmmakers just trying to enter a local film competition wind up recording an air-force train derailment outside a sleepy Ohio town, it sets a chain of fantastic and terrible events in motion.  What cargo was the train carrying?  Why is the air-force so desperate to keep it a secret?  A fantastic spat of performances by the child actors, (and truthfully, even the adults are pretty good) make up for the plot holes and bits of missing logic.  The Spielbergian feel is in full effect here, and the film is littered with simple pleasures of a by-gone era.  This is the Americana where it was okay to hop on your bike and peddle to a friend’s house, the sleepy small town that still has a steel plant, the community that bans together in fear of Russian invasion.  And it is into this setting that Abrams unleashes an X-Files conspiracy and potential close encounter.

For everyone who complains that “they don’t make them like they used to” you NEED to go see this film.  JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg have crafted a film from my childhood.  It feels like a product of the times in which it is set, the late 70s early 80s.  The films is a suspenseful rollercoaster ride harking back to classics like “Close Encounters Of The 3rd Kind” and “E.T.” with a splash of “Goonies”, as well as newer movies like “The Iron Giant” and “Cloverfield” but it’s much darker in tone, kind of like what those movies would be when they grow up.

It’s also a love letter to Hollywood and filmmakers everywhere.  For every kid who’s ever picked up a video camera and shot little action vignettes with their models, for every makeup artist who creates fake blood out of Kayro syrup and red food coloring, for every young director who set up a shot NOT because it was needed for the telling of the narrative, but because it would look f***ing cool, this film is for you.