Thursday, June 23, 2011

Green Lantern

One of the Lantern Corps.

I've never been a huge fan of Green Lantern comics. I tried to get into them a few times, but it never worked out for me. Didn't matter if it was Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner or John Stewart (the black architect, not the Daily Show host). Part of the reason why it never meshed with me was because of the weirdly abstract and both unlimited and limited nature of the ring's powers and the application in the comics and cartoons. I mean, it was rife with scenes like, "Holy shit! That woman is falling off of the top of the Empire State building!" Well, thankfully the Green Lantern is there and moments before she smashes into the pavement, she is instead caught be a giant green catcher's mitt. That was always just awkwardly difficult for me to swallow.

And I guess that's where my problem with the majority of the DC comics line came from: other than modern Batman, the comics just seemed to lack a more gritty realism. DC heroes stand like Greek Gods to the humans they protect. They are above them with powers that are near limitless. Meanwhile, Marvel was fully of geeky guys who became powerful, but had to try to learn to work and contain their abilities through their flawed characters. These guys were relatable. And for some reason, someone shooting laser beams out of their eyeballs just seems more "realistic" to me than some guy making a giant baseball glove to catch falling damsels in distress.

Now, I do know enough about the Green Lantern to know that they played around a bit with his abilities in the movie. For example, in the comics, the ring does not allow the Lanterns to create complex machinery. However, in the movie, Hal Jordan was conjuring up Gatling guns and M-198 howitzers. However, to the movie's credit, there were two scenes in which people or things were falling and needed to be saved; neither one was caught in a catcher's mitt. Instead, the world's longest helicopter crash was instead saved by giving it green wheels and putting it on a winding kid's racetrack (incidentally, there is a Green Lantern/Hot Wheels product tie in that involves being able to purchase a Green Lantern race track). And when a woman who was smashed forcefully into a wall by the bad guy finally started to fall to the ground, Green Lantern didn't catch her with a catcher's mitt, but instead made green water for her to land in and she went splashing away in the turbulent waters, leading her presumably out of danger. Unless, of course, she had spinal or neck injuries from her initial crash. In which case, I'm sure she will now be a paraplegic.

 But that's my problem with Green Lantern. The powers seem limitless, but the application is always silly. I mean, were I the Green Lantern I'd be constantly worried about people thinking my creations were odd and geeky and people would laugh at them. So, despite having a power limited only by my imagination, I would be a Green Lantern that was much more subtle in application to minimize the potential laugh factor of on-lookers  so that I could still get girls.

Here's a quick comparison of how I would use my powers compared to "real" Green Lantern:

Woman falling to her death:
Real Green Lantern: Big Green Catcher's Mitt.
Me: Beam of green energy that makes her float.

Bad guy charging, ready to smash to bits:
Real Green Lantern: Big Green Baseball Bat to knock him away.
Me: Beam of green energy that knocks him away.

Huge alien attacking the city:
Real Green Lantern: Big Green sproingy spring to make a fuel tanker truck fly in its vicinity, followed by a big green howitzer to shoot the tanker truck to make it explode on the alien.
Me: Beam of green energy that hurts the alien.

So, yes, my ability would be much more subtle and subdued. But mine wouldn't look silly. I'd be a Green Lantern out to impress chicks and not 9 year olds with baseball fetishes.

But anyhow, the movie. It was standard, predictable superhero origin story. Nothing that interesting, except how the movie treated a few things strangely. Hal Jordan is a test pilot. And first of all, I hate when movies make pilots crazy-ass maverick wannabes instead of the calm, collected military specialist trained people they tend to be in real life. But whatever. Anyhow, they are testing out billion dollar AI fighter jets against the top pilots in hopes of winning a lucrative contract. Now, first of all, AI fighter jets are pointless. It would be a terrible investment. Wars are not fought with aircraft dogfights these days. AI drone bombers, maybe, but no real need to spend billions, if not trillions of dollars on these AI fighters for dogfights that won't happen. But anyhow, Hal beats the AI jets by breaking the "rules of engagement". But because he broke the rules of engagement, they didn't get the contract and so the company decides on the spot to lay off a shitload of people.

So, later, in the parking lot of a bar, Hal is grabbed and roughed up by three guys who proceed to beat the shit out of him for his causing them to lose the contract and therefore, them getting laid off.

These are aerospace engineers. I don't know if the three were aeronautical engineers or astronautical engineers or a combination of the two, but the movie essentially portrayed a gang of rocket scientist thugs beating the shit out of Hal Jordan. How fucked up was that?

Also, Hal eventually beat the giant monster by flying towards the sun. Because the monster is bigger than him, it is more effected by the sun's gravitational pull, because, as Hal learned earlier in the movie, bigger objects are more affected by gravity. Wait, what? What the fuck?!

Yes, apparently the movie was written by people who so despise science that the aerospace engineers are bullying thugs and they totally disregard basic, elementary physics.

Anyhow, the effects in the movie were actually pretty lame as well. The CGI effects really looked like a top end video game effects rather than effects you would expect to see in a movie. Really, I would have been fine seeing any of those scenes as a video game cutscene and would have thought nothing of it. But as a movie, they just were distractingly bad.

Anyhow, the movie. Big bad monster, uses the power of fear. Green Lanterns use the power of will. Fear is stronger than will. But Hal Jordan realizes that he can move past living in the shadow of his father who died in the world's longest jet crash and proves that humanity trumps all.

But the movie tells that last paragraph in a much more lackluster way than I did.

Molly: (As usual, Molly's portion of the review will be in Q&A form. I'll write what she says and format it later.)

Chuckie: What did you think about the movie, Green Lantern?
Molly: I liked it.

Chuckie: What did you like about it?
Molly: People was friendly, except the bad guys.

Chuckie: How were people friendly in it? What did they do that was friendly?
Molly: I'll get back to you on that one. (takes a big bit of her Devil Dog and chews it down, eventually swallowing and continuing.) I think there was a purple alien and he gave that ring to him.

Chuckie: What did the ring do?
Molly: Chose him.
Chuckie: Well, yes, but what could the ring do?
Molly: Um, I don't even know.

Chuckie: Well, let's talk about this for a moment. What kind of powers did the ring have? What could it do? What could he make with it?
Molly: A brick wall.

Chuckie: Well, yes, but were there rules or limits to what he could make with it?
Molly: Yeah.
Chuckie: What were they?
Molly: He can't make the whole universe with the ring.
Chuckie: Why not?
Molly: Because he doesn't have that kind of power and you can't put a universe inside of another universe.
Chuckie: Oh. Okay. Out of curiosity, why can't you put a universe inside of another universe?
Molly: Um, because you can't take another universe and put it into another universe because there can't be two universes there so they would just be one universe.

Chuckie: Wow. Okay. Anyhow, back to the movie.
Molly: That alien, he gave him the ring. I wonder why he was purple.

Chuckie: Sorry, Pixie, you really stumped me with your universe talk.
Molly: What does "stunked" mean?
Chuckie: No, stumped. That means you said some things that really threw Daddy off. I wasn't expecting it.
Molly: Oh.

Chuckie: So, tell me what happened in the movie?
Molly: He was going to turn green, but he needed more batteries and then he charged it with the ring lantern and then he turned green and he sang the pledge allegiance to the lantern that the dying purple alien that gave him it. And I think he saved somebody. Oh, yeah! He did save somebody. He saved some people in his universe from a giant octopus.

Chuckie: Yeah, the bad guy in this was kind of weird looking, huh?
Molly: Yeah. So I thought it was an octopus.

Chuckie: Can you tell me about Sinestro?
Molly: Who is Sinestro?
Chuckie: He was the purple guy who wanted the yellow ring.
Molly: Yes. He was the purple guy who wanted the yellow ring.
Chuckie: Well, yes, that's just what I said though.
Molly: I know. I copied you. And the yellow ring is bad though. And we had to wait through the words at the end of the movie to see him take the yellow ring. I can't read though.

Chuckie: So, do you think that Green Lantern was a good hero?
Molly: Yes.

Chuckie: Who do you think were better heroes, Green Lantern or the X-Men?
Molly: I think Green Lantern was  better hero. The helmet guy from the other movie yelled at that girl. But Captain America is an even better hero. He's there to help! And Iron Man.
Chuckie: Are you excited about the Captain America movie?
Molly: Yes!  Now I'm ready for Captain America.
Chuckie: Well, we'll have to wait a little bit for that movie.
Molly: Oh barnacles!

Chuckie: So, Daddy always thought that Green Lantern's powers were sort of ill-defined and it really hurt the storytelling as a result of that. DC's character tended to be almost Greek Gods in stature, powers and abilities, which made them less relatable to me. Daddy liked heroes who were flawed people, but strove to do good nonetheless. What do you think?
Molly: I'm on your team.

Chuckie: Good. Glad to hear that.
Molly: Thank you.

Chuckie: So, how would you rate this movie?
Molly: Stars, moons and suns. Daddy, I got over what I was sad about.

Chuckie: What were you sad about?
Molly: Well, I was sad about Jonesy and I was sad about that dying alien in Doctor Who.
Chuckie: Yeah, you took that last one kind of hard, didn't you?
Molly: Yeah.
Chuckie: Brave heart, Molly.
Molly: Thank you.

Chuckie: So, how many stars would you give the movie?
Molly: Ten.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of one.
Chuckie: So you're giving it nine stars more than it could possibly have?
Molly: No! I said ten.

Chuckie: Okay. How many moons would you give the movie?
Molly: Ten.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of two. Ah! I mean, out of ten! No, out of zero!
Chuckie: You know that by making it out of zero, it's not a real number?
Molly: I know. But it's just a big round "o", Daddy, so you don't have to worry so much.

Chuckie: (laughs) Fair enough. So how many suns would you give the movie?
Molly: Um, eight million. That's a big number.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of the carnival?
Chuckie: The carnival?
Molly: Yes. I like the carnival and I want it to be sun shiny when I go there.

Chuckie: Fair enough.
Molly: Daddy, I wish we had thirty-five suns in the sky.
Chuckie: Why?
Molly: Then, in summer, I could go swimming every summer day.
Chuckie: You can do that already with one sun in the sky.
Molly: Okay, just eleven suns then in the sky so it can be a little bit more cooler than with thirty-five, but still hot enough that you'll have to let me go swimming.

Chuckie: So, who do you think would like this movie?
Molly: People who have Green Lantern shirts.
Chuckie: True. But Daddy has one, and I wasn't thrilled with the movie?
Molly: Barnacles!

Chuckie: So anything else that you wanted to say about the movie?
Molly: The Green Lantern can fly, but he can't fly faster than light because that's the fastest thing in the universe.

So, that's our review. I thought it was uninspiringly standard for an origin story. The CGI effects were on par with modern video games, but were distractingly poor for a major motion picture. The subplot of the xeno-biologist gaining powers only to get killed (not by the protagonist of the movie) at the start of the third act was just rather weird. All it did was lead to a final confrontation and battle with a bad guy that the movie failed to develop, resulting in a rather unemotionally satisfying end battle scene.

I give the movie one star out of five. I would have given it more, but the movie made me afraid that scientists are going to beat the shit out of me now.

Molly gives the movie ten out of one star, ten out of zero moons and eight million suns out of the carnival, so it would be bright and shiny when she went there. She also posited that you cannot put a universe inside of another universe because since a universe is everything, they will, by definition just be one universe. She also pointed out that Green Lantern cannot exceed the speed of light, because nothing in the universe can go faster than light. So, perhaps I should be concerned since my little girl is on the path to growing up to be a bully thug scientist.

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