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Sunday, 26 June 2011

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Green Lantern

Directed by: Martin Campbell

Produced by: Donald De Line
Greg Berlanti

Screenplay by: Greg Berlanti
Michael Green
Marc Guggenheim
Michael Goldenberg

Story by: Greg Berlanti
Michael Green
Marc Guggenheim

Based on: The Green Lantern by
John Broome
Gil Kane

Starring: Ryan Reynolds
Blake Lively
Peter Sarsgaard
Mark Strong
Angela Bassett
Tim Robbins

Music by: James Newton Howard

Cinematography by: Dion Beebe

Editing by: Stuart Baird

Studio: DC Entertainment
De Line Pictures

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date: June 17, 2011

Running time: 114 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Budget: $200 million

Gross revenue(as of publication): $118, 711, 000

Here comes the obligatory movie updates. I have since seen Kung Fu Panda 2, and my next review following on from this will be that of Bad Teacher. Oh, and by the way, loved Way Out West all over again, and am looking forward to watching Our Relations tonight. I really urge people to get into Laurel and Hardy: comedic brilliance, brilliance full-stop, is never outdated. Also, listen to Bjork. I know that my recent infatuation with her music has been viewed by some of my friend's as borderline obsession, but her work is that of genuine and emotionally heartrending power.

Anyway, post-indulgence in obsessions, it would be wise to stick to the job at hand, and at hand, of course, we have Green Lantern. Unlike the movie, I'm not going to get into the decades-long mythology of the Green Lantern universe, so I'm going to try and make this synopsis as brief as possible (not an easy task). Aircraft test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), a bit of a loose cannon whose attitude problems ultimately stem from a degree of guilt at the trauma of his father, also an air pilot, dying untimely in an explosion, is chosen by the ring of Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison), who appoints him a Green Lantern. After being transported to the Lantern home plant Oa, he discovers he is the first human appointed to the honour, and the significance and responsibility of his position as protector of Earth. Back home, government scientist Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) is summoned by his father Senator Robert Hammond (Tim Robbins) to conduct an autopsy on an alien being. During this autopsy, Hector is infected with an organism, which turns out to be the DNA of Parallax, the arch-nemesis of the Green Lantern Corps, who is threatening to destroy the universe.

This synopsis I like to think would more than aptly set the scene for the film, although I'm leaving out large chunks of what is in the film. For a movie that is as large as the Green Lantern is, you'd like to think that the visual effects are of a decent standard. Well, you won't be disappointed, because visual effects team that worked on Green Lantern have done a stunning job that, despite being of a dirty, murky tone for much of the film, stands as one of the best examples of contemporary visual effects. Also, editor Stuart Baird does a good job of making sure that the visual effects and live-action are able to coexist in a universe that is seamless and believable, if a bit overdone on the greenscreen side of things. The action scenes, particularly the final battle between Hal Jordan and Parallax, are extremely well edited, considering the ambition and the scope that the filmmakers were aiming for. It perhaps sounds horrible to judge how good these things were in the context of the future and not on the basis of the film itself, but this spectacular sequence made me genuinely believe it would be possible to now adapt Half-Life for the screen.

Despite these qualities about Green Lantern, it is ultimately a very flawed film. First and foremost at fault, as ever, is the script. The film opens and closes with some amazing action sequences, but they comes across as bookends to what is an emotionally vacuous film that bombards you with way too many details to get involved in the central story. I read a review of the film in which a fan of the franchise argues that if you know some of the backstory going in you will enjoy it. The thing about that is that it inevitably alienates everyone who hasn't read any of the original source material. For adaptations of comic-book series, structurally there should be a balance between backstory and moving story. Backstory is the history that must be covered and moving story is the one that they want to cover for the movie. With roughly two-thirds of the movie being spent on backstory and a rushed last act being spent on moving story, we have a highly uneven film that is unbalanced. Perhaps Green Lantern is not good material for adaptation to the screen, which doesn't make it a bad source, I haven't read them, but for film, a medium for which some vigilance and editing is inevitable and required in the process of adaptation, it just does not work. In other Warner Bros. superhero-pics, such as Superman, they deal with this problem by spending an hour on backstory and an hour-and-a-half on moving story. Others, such as Batman, do away with backstory altogether, and dive straight into moving story. In a rare example that more or less completely worked, Batman Begins dealt with both in a cohesive manner which did them justice. Green Lantern's structure feels like the first hour of Superman with a really expensive episode of a television series clumped on the end. Furthermore, the screenwriters do not craft characters that make me want to care what is going on. I understand the various little bits of cliche synchronicity going on, such as the theme of parents, children and responsibility occurring between Hal Jordan and Hector Hammond, but no character makes me feel as though they could exist as a human being. The thing that comes to mind is in fact Six Characters In Search Of An Author, in which the Six Characters laugh at the Actors for portraying them as cardboard cutouts. All of the actors, perhaps as much the fault of the script as their own, give Eisenstein-esque acting performances, the difference being Eisenstein wanted his actors to come across as simplistic and two-dimensional. Finally, director Martin Campbell should really know better. Don't forget, Campbell is the man who was responsible for rebooting the James Bond franchise not just once with Goldeneye, but twice with Casino Royale. I know he has worked with poor scripts before, I mean look at Vertical Limit and to a lesser extent the 2009/2010 Edge Of Darkness, but his work has always had a flair and pace, an energy that keeps things going. Here, outside of the action scenes, it lags and feels like flogging a dead horse. Perhaps a six-part HBO series a-la 1985 Edge Of Darkness would have been more appropriate.

Green Lantern is not an absolutely terrible movie, although it certainly gives one much food for thought regarding it's pros-and-cons. It possesses some terrific visual effects, and Stuart Baird really deserves to be commended for his work in the editing department. However, it is a very boring and lifeless two-dimensional piece of badly structured drivel that is not befitting of some of the better work of director Martin Campbell. Ultimately, it reflects worst of all on Warner Bros., who clearly are just trying to pump money into any potentially bankable superhero franchise in the wake of the box-office success of Christopher Nolan's Batman films. They are really lucky they have Nolan and the Harry Potter series, because they have lost so much money with this and other films of late.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 4.0/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Bored and indifferent (eating up Eric Clapton/Michael Kamen Edge Of Darkness theme)

P.S. Why was I only seeing marketing for this a few weeks before it was released? You do not spent $200 million dollars on a movie and have shit marketing campaigns. Warner Bros., you know what I am talking about, especially after Inception was being hyped nearly half a year in advance of it's release!

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