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By otakuman5000 On 22 Jun, 2011 At 01:26 PM | Categorized As Featured, Movie News, Reviews | With 2 Comments

No GravatarIn Brightest Day, In Darkest Dawn, Beware Green Lantern’s Yawn…

The filmmakers behind Green Lantern have been all-too-quick to compare it to Star Wars.  Unfortunately, the comparison is apt.  Green Lantern is very reminiscent of Star Wars…Episode I…  The Phantom Men’s Ass.  For every visually interesting moment or action sequence there is an equally dull or juvenile exchange, and the movie is rife with bizarre gaps in logic.

I have to start by saying that I do not read Green Lantern and therefore know very little about how the film diverges from the comic.  Because of this I went into the movie with very little in the way of expectations, but the movie still managed to disappoint me.  Due to my limited knowledge of the Green Lantern universe, my major gripes are not with how good of a comic to movie translation the film is, but how underwhelming of a movie it is in general.

The Green Lantern Corps is an intergalactic peace keeping force who have harnessed the “emerald energy” of will as a tool to mete out justice.  When one of the Corps’ elite members, Abin Sur, is attacked by a mysterious alien and mortally wounded, he begins searching for a replacement.  He arrives on the nearest inhabited planet, Midgard/Earth, and sends his ring to seek out one who is worthy of the power and responsibility of being a Green Lantern.  The ring chooses a test pilot, Hal Jordan (played with affable charm by Ryan Reynolds) and he sets off on a journey to the Lantern Corps’ home world to learn how to wield his new-found power.  Hal is spirited away to Oa, a distant planet that is inhabited by the architects of the Corp and serves as a training ground for new recruits.  The design of Oa (composed entirely of CGI) and its many inhabitants is one of the movie’s highlights.  The whole training sequence where Hal meets other Green Lanterns and learns how to focus his imagination through his power ring to create “hard light constructs” is where the movie shines.  This sequence lasts about ten minutes, then it’s back to Earth.  We are only given a cursory introduction to the other members of the Corp and before we even get to learn anyone’s back-story, the film’s budget and creative steam runs out.  When Hal returns to Earth, every single boring minute and frame of film is an exercise in paint-by-numbers (with lots of green paint) storytelling and every plot development is painfully predictable.  The whole show just plain lacks creativity and that’s the real problem here.

We must hurry back to Earth before our budget runs out!

 

Hal’s Green Lantern power ring allows him to construct anything he can imagine and utilize it to accomplish various tasks. Apparently, a prerequisite for becoming a Green Lantern is to possess the dullest, most pedestrian imagination possible.  Hal squanders his ring’s power to conjure a sword, a brick wall, a big fist, and a bucket of water throughout the film.  Had the ring chosen…

With great cabbage, comes great responsibility…

a head of cabbage to be the newest GLC (Green Lantern Corp) recruit, I’m sure it would have been able to come up with some more interesting constructs (maybe a wall of coleslaw or a fist composed of coleslaw… perhaps a bucket of coleslaw).  The effects are done well, especially the suit or second skin that the powering gives to its bearer.  The suit actually looks different on the various races that make up the GLC.  On certain aliens it creates an effect that looks like scales, on others it looks like a green hide, and on Ryan Reynolds it appears as a second layer of musculature.  The suit flexes and moves with the characters and pulses with green energy.  The CGI for the suit actually looks quite good most of the time, but there are a couple of weird moments where the effect doesn’t mesh with the live actor and it looks like Ryan Reynolds’ floating head with a CGI body underneath.

There are also a few subplots that are shoehorned into the film that never have a pay off.  For example, there is a scene where Angela Basset’s character’s tragic back-story is shown as a flashback, after which she pretty much disappears for the rest of the film.  While we’re on the subject of unnecessary characters and the overly talented actors who play them, Peter Sarsgard plays one of the film’s villains (Hector Hammond).  Peter Sarsgard is an extremely talented actor but simply cannot keep himself from chewing the scenery then punching through its remains with giant ham-fists.  It’s not really his fault, as he isn’t given much to do but scream and keep his massive head from lolling to the side like some rotting melon filled with… coleslaw.

 

Most epic comb-over ever!

Overall, I was just plain bored by the Green Lantern.  I expected more from director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, Goldeneye, and the Mask of Zorro), who’s previous work I have really enjoyed.  There may be a lot that was left 0n the cutting room floor that, when restored (much like DareDevil), would make for a more compelling and cohesive tale, but that’s no excuse for squandering the potential of a beloved franchise and the generosity of millions of fans.  The most disappointing thing about the film is that it almost assures there will be no Justice League movie, and that Ryan Reynolds will never get to play The Flash (a character he has been attached to for years and one that would have been a far better fit for his talents).  They do leave a few bread crumbs at the end of the film in order to leave the doors open for sequels, but I doubt anyone will care about what happens next.

 

Recommendati0n: Instead of watching the Green Lantern, go watch the Green Mile, or the Green Zone, or even the Green Hornet.  Hell, I’ll even throw in Soylent Green as a throw-back.  Wait ’till this flick hits Green-Ray, as hopefully there will be a Director’s Cut that restores some subplots and covers up plot holes.

The More You Know: Ryan Reynolds has had a tumultuous career as a superhero.  He played Hannibal King in the disappointing finale to the Blade Trilogy, was cast as Wade Wilson/Deadpool in the awful X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and now has played Hal Jordan in the Green Lantern.  At least he is trying to spread out the disappointment between both MARVEL and DC universes.

-Ryan Reynolds dated Alanis Morisette for 5 years.  A little ironic, don’t ya think?

-Ryan Reynolds would have been the perfect choice to play Richard Rider in a Nova movie.  (Nova and the Nova Corps are the MARVEL Universe’s analog of DC’s Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps).  Even their names are similar!

-After doing some more research, I have found that the movie skews pretty far from the source material when it comes to several of the main characters and how they’re represented on screen.

-If you go see it, there is an extra scene after the credits.

 

A far better choice for a Green Lantern recruit. Even better than that head of cabbage from before…

 

By otakuman5000 On 4 Jun, 2011 At 05:52 PM | Categorized As Featured, Movie News, Reviews | With 2 Comments

No GravatarDoes X-Men: First Class pass or fail?

Both, depending on how you look at it…

X-Men: First Class is a massively successful and entertaining superhero film, trumped only by its monumental failure as a prequel.

DO NOT go into this movie thinking that it’s a prequel.  The movie posters, trailers, and promos would all have you believe that this is where the X-Men trilogy started.  Do not believe the hype.  First Class seems to have a bit of an identity crisis, not sure whether it wants to be a franchise reboot or a prequel.  There are so many continuity errors that it seems impossible to think that the film was intended as a prequel, but for every one of these blatant errors, there’s a line of dialogue, visual cue, or cameo that suggests otherwise.  Trust me, forget about the original trilogy, go in with an open mind, and you’ll be blown away.

The core of the movie is about Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto (“Master of Magnet”), Charles Xavier (Prof. X), the development of their friendship, and the events that will inevitably turn them into nemesises… nemesi?  Nemeses.  Michael Fassbender (300, Inglorious Bastards) and James McAvoy (Wanted, The Chronic-What-cles of Narnia) carry the weight of the film on their capable shoulders, but it’s Fassbender who really shines.  I’ve liked him in everything I have seen him in, but his layered performance as Erik Lehnsherr propelled him onto a new level for me.  If Matthew Vaughn and Michael Fassbender got back together for a Magneto spin-off, I would be all in.  Speaking of Matthew Vaughn, (who got his superhero training while directing KICK-ASS) he does some great things here to revitalize the X franchise.  After the great X films directed by Bryan Singer, the let down that was Bret Rattner’s X3, and the epic failure that was Wolverine, the franchise needed a fresh injection of creative talent and artistic vision.  I am happy to report that Matthew Vaughn brings both to the table.  The movie is shot with style and energy and Vaughn just seems to “get it” when it comes to comic book source material.  A sequence with Magneto in Argentina and a split screen training montage being a couple of the standout scenes in a movie filled with awesome moments.  I would go so far as to say that First Class outclasses all of the other X-Men movies that came before (chronologically after).  I hope the positive buzz and almost assured box office success generate more X-Men movies from Vaughn and co. Let’s hope they get progressively better instead of worse, this time around.

Magneto, Moira MacTaggert, Emma Frost, Azazel, Beast, Havok, Angel, Mystique, and Mr. Tumnus

 

The performances from the rest of the cast are a mixed bag.  This is mostly due to the D-list X-men characters that were adapted for the movie.  Characters like Tempest (Angel in the film) and Riptide just aren’t that deep, and they are not on the screen for enough time to warrant an explanation of their power-sets and backgrounds.  The actors just do not have that much to work with.  The characters you do know, such as Beast, Emma Frost, and fan-favorite Havok are all well represented and are given enough screen time to hit some iconic poses.  Beast fares particularly well and delivers an interesting character arc and some excellent fight work.  Much of this is due to Nicholas Hoult (the kid from About a Boy, all grown up) and his performance which combines just the right amount of Hank McCoy’s bookworm side and the more primal facets of the Beast.  One character that surprised me was Banshee, played by Caleb Landry Jones, who I never really liked in the comics but completely warmed up to during the film.  Most importantly, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender proved to be absolutely perfect casting choices.

"Die, X-Chicken!"

The same way that The Dark Knight was a crime drama with more in common with Heat than Superman,  First Class is more of a spy caper that happens to take place in the X-Men universe.  It’s set against the backdrop of the 60’s and the Cuban Missile Crisis, but handles the “What If” alternate history routine better than Watchmen did, and it feels natural to see these characters in that time period.  Great set design and costumes help sell the 60’s vibe and the movie looks polished overall.  The visual effects, both practical and digital, are a little hit and miss but it’s easy to forgive when what’s happening on screen is so engrossing.  A lot of the visuals looked great on the big screen, but that’s not the reason I would recommend seeing First Class in the theater.  The sound design simply cannot be reproduced at home when the movie gets released on Bluray.  You can actually feel the movie theater shake when Magneto uses his abilities.

The movie’s epic run-time of 2 hours and 12 minutes, is actually deserved.  It will strain your butt & bladder, but it’s worth it.  I can’t really think of anything that could have been cut, as everything shown served the story and pushed the characters towards the inevitable final standoff.  Finally, a final showdown in a comic book movie that’s as good as what we’re used to seeing on the printed page.  The action packed finale is well choreographed, interestingly shot, and paced to showcase everyone’s abilities.  I’ve found most superhero movies that start with a bang unable to properly carry the momentum through the end of the final fight (e.g., Batman tackling Two-Face, Iron Man and War Machine high fiving to beat Whiplash, Superman helping Lex Luthor move an island into space, and don’t even get me started on optic blast heated Wolverine claws cutting off a mouth-less Deadpool’s head which proceed to shoot eye-beams as it spirals and plummets into a nuclear reactor).  Thankfully,  First Class bucks the trend and gives us a great fight and ends with a BAMF… I mean bang.

Recommendati0n: It’s 0n.  It’s worth checking out on the big screen, just remember to watch it as a reboot and not a prequel.

The more you know: Don’t sit through the credits, there’s no secret scene at the end.  No Nick Fury, no Deadpool, nothin’.

Director Matthew Vaughn was originally attached to direct X3: The Last Stand.

The script for First Class borrows from the story for X-Men Origins: Magneto.  That film was scrapped by Fox (probably after the universally panned X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and was instead adapted to tell the story of the birth of the X-Men and not just Magneto.

Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy are no strangers to comic book movie adaptations.  Fassbender was in 300 and Jonah Hex, while McAvoy was in Wanted.

Patrick Stewart is surprisingly cool with the new Professor on the block, even though McAvoy's success guarantees that Stewart will never reprise his role as Xavier…

 

Moments later.