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Peter T Chattaway

Green Lantern

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...but essential for cows, and film critics.

And this guy.

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Edited by Overstreet

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So you actually think about these movies after you see them? ;)

That's exactly what somebody termed "the Greydanus/Overstreet error" the other day, objecting to Steven's review of Super 8. Apparently, we're supposed to rate a film solely on what we're feeling as it plays. If flaws come into view as we reflect on a film, well, that's our fault for bothering to reflect in the first place.

Is that what it is! In context, I really had no idea.

I'm inviting Steven to join me in learning to stop thinking about what we watch, but we're going to need a support group, and you guys are all enablers.

Watching the film is the act of eating. What happens afterward is the process of assimilation. That's when we learn to what extent a film sticks to your ribs, and to what extent it's crap.

And while it's true that for most people assimilation is an unconscious process, and everybody assimilates what they see whether or not they consciously reflect on it, those who consciously think about it are like cows: We ruminate. That is, we bring back up what we've eaten and chew on it some more. Not so good for human digestion, but essential for cows, and film critics.

How long before someone here starts talking about Green Lantern as a "cultural vegetable"? (Never, right? RIGHT??)

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Attica wrote:

: If a human lantern could defeat the monster by just throwing him into the sun then why didn't the millions of lanterns just gang up on the creature and do this.

YES.

But this, like some of the other problems you cite, is just another sign of how they were trying to pack way too much into a two-hour (or less) running time.

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Attica wrote:

: If a human lantern could defeat the monster by just throwing him into the sun then why didn't the millions of lanterns just gang up on the creature and do this.

YES.

But this, like some of the other problems you cite, is just another sign of how they were trying to pack way too much into a two-hour (or less) running time.

When I think about it the film I can see what you mean.

More spoilers.

If so much wasn't packed into the movie they would have been able to develop his fathers death into the story in ways where the flashbacks would have made more sense.

If the film was simpler it could have spent more time dealing with the fear/will angle in a way that is more meaningful to the viewer. I mean, I understood what they were getting at.... but it didn't

speak to me in my heart like a better film would have.

My wife who was with me said that she wished the film had love overcome fear and not will. I've never read the comics so I'm not sure on this, but I said that I expect they were trying to stay true to

the comics to a certain degree.

The love/fear angle rings more true to a Christian worldview, but I can understand why a writer would want to explore the love/will idea, from a creative standpoint. It has obviously not been touched

on as much over the years

As mentioned earlier I would have liked to have seen him defeat the creature in a way that only a human could. It would have been interesting to explore the human will deeper, not just fear. The human will

could be different from the other Lanterns in that it's more stubborn, or self willed. Thus he would have the obvious human weakness that we often have in this area, but also something special in his will, that

would enable him to overcome the monster when the others couldn't. I think this could have been a theme to develop, in ways that even ask questions according to a Christian worldview as the

Bible talks about Adam (us) being soulish. Which I would think most likely means over inclined towards self. Or self willed, and maybe selfish. But sometimes our stubborness helps us to accomplish

the task at hand.

Edited by Attica

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Attica wrote:

: My wife who was with me said that she wished the film had love overcome fear and not will. I've never read the comics so I'm not sure on this, but I said that I expect they were trying to stay true to the comics to a certain degree.

I don't know if it has always been this way, but the Wikipedia entry on Sinestro suggests that this is how the comics currently frame the dynamic.

Things have certainly changed since I used to read the Green Lantern comics. I stopped reading them shortly after Hal Jordan went nuts (following the destruction of his city) and killed almost all of the Guardians, as well as quite a few Green Lanterns (including Kilowog, if memory serves); he was later revealed to be a new supervillain named Parallax. But then, some time *after* I stopped reading the comics, they apparently decided that Parallax was not really Hal Jordan's new name, but rather, it was the name of an entity that had *possessed* him and *forced* him to kill all those people -- so Hal Jordan was actually innocent, you see. I'm not sure that two lame plot twists make a right, but anyhoo...

My point here is that Parallax didn't even exist when I used to read the comics 15-20 years ago, except for when the name was introduced as Hal Jordan's supervillainous persona. And the notion of Parallax as some sort of galactic threat that pre-exists the Green Lantern Corps -- which is the basic premise of this entire movie -- wasn't introduced until some time after *that*.

So the whole fear-will dynamic could very well represent where things are *today*, more or less. I just don't know that it's always been this way, is all.

Incidentally, another thing they tried too hard to pack into the movie is the scene that they added to the middle of the closing credits, which sets up the sequel. Someone does something, and it's not at all clear why he does it; it doesn't particularly follow anything that we saw them do in the previous scene, or the scene before that. It kind of comes out of nowhere, just because the filmmakers feel a need to set up a sequel. So we can add that to all the other stuff you've already cited as evidence of how the movie tries to pack too much into its running time.

Here's the closing-credits scene in question; obviously, a SPOILER ALERT belongs here (although, honestly, when I heard that this film HAS a closing-credits scene, I pretty much guessed what it would be):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLlhMwrofOo

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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FWIW, Green Lantern has a 25% on Rotten Tomatoes, 18% lower than Mr. Popper's Penguins.

I noticed yesterday how low the score was, and linked from RT to Dave Poland's positive review, which is no longer linked on RT today. Anyway, it begins:

This is when Rotten Tomatoes does a disservice to movies.

Green Lantern is not the best comic book movie of the summer. But it’s nothing like the as-of-this-writing 19% on Rotten Tomatoes bad. Not even close.

I'm in total agreement, but I'm often out of step on superhero movies. I liked Green Lantern much more than, say, Thor, which was generally well liked, at least among the early reviewers, some of whom heralded it as great summer entertainment.

Poland again:

It’s not the comic book movie we have come to expect lately. It actually looks like a comic book… much more so than Thor, for instance, which also spends a fair amount of time in other worlds. Thor looks like sets and some cool CG around them. Green Lantern is immersive. And it’s a certain kind of comic book… not Burton, not Nolan, not Singer. Director Martin Campbell is not shy about making reference back to Donner’s Superman, with a bit of Lester in there.

He goes on to point to problems in the second half of the film.

The screening was an interesting an experience. I sat among several squirming-in-their-seats critics who could barely contain their contempt for the film. All the while, I was thinking, "This isn't so bad." I kinda liked it. :)

I think part of the problem is that the Rotten Tomatoes ratings from individual critics are either up or down, fresh or rotten. There's no in between. And RT translates SDG's C+ -- which, as I understand it, is not really a bad score, it's actually slightly above average - into a "rotten" tomato.

Also, for whatever it's worth, the user rating on Green Lantern at RT is much better -- 65% liked it, as of this writing.

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I think part of the problem is that the Rotten Tomatoes ratings from individual critics are either up or down, fresh or rotten. There's no in between. And RT translates SDG's C+ -- which, as I understand it, is not really a bad score, it's actually slightly above average - into a "rotten" tomato.

Also, for whatever it's worth, the user rating on Green Lantern at RT is much better -- 65% liked it, as of this writing.

Agreed. This is why I prefer Metacritic, where it currently scores 40. That's about 2/5 stars, which seems about right from what I've been reading.

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I think part of the problem is that the Rotten Tomatoes ratings from individual critics are either up or down, fresh or rotten. There's no in between. And RT translates SDG's C+ -- which, as I understand it, is not really a bad score, it's actually slightly above average - into a "rotten" tomato.

Certainly it's true that RT's binary approach is a limiting factor and skews how the Tomatometer interprets critical responses. FWIW, RT doesn't assign the Fresh/Rotten valuations -- I do that. But RT's guideline is that a "Fresh" rating should indicate clear approval of a film, so I save it for the B rating and above.

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Most people are spinning the film's $52.7 million domestic weekend haul as a disappointment, and it is, but just to put things in perspective: Only four other DC Comics-based films have ever opened above $50 million:

  • The Dark Knight (2008, $158.4 million)
  • Watchmen (2009, $55.2 million)
  • Batman Forever (1995, $52.8 million)
  • Superman Returns (2006, $52.5 million)

So Green Lantern is basically in a virtual three-way tie with Batman Forever and Superman Returns for the #3 spot, and Watchmen isn't really all THAT far ahead at #2. (The Dark Knight, of course, is FREAKISHLY way out in front.) And considering it's one of only two films on this list that is not a sequel, that's not TOO bad, I'd say.

(Indeed, only nine DC Comics films have opened north of $30 million, and of those, SIX were Batman movies. Watchmen, Superman Returns and Green Lantern are the only non-Batman movies that have ever made it this high.)

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Attica wrote:

: My wife who was with me said that she wished the film had love overcome fear and not will. I've never read the comics so I'm not sure on this, but I said that I expect they were trying to stay true to the comics to a certain degree.

I don't know if it has always been this way, but the Wikipedia entry on Sinestro suggests that this is how the comics currently frame the dynamic.

Things have certainly changed since I used to read the Green Lantern comics. I stopped reading them shortly after Hal Jordan went nuts (following the destruction of his city) and killed almost all of the Guardians, as well as quite a few Green Lanterns (including Kilowog, if memory serves); he was later revealed to be a new supervillain named Parallax. But then, some time *after* I stopped reading the comics, they apparently decided that Parallax was not really Hal Jordan's new name, but rather, it was the name of an entity that had *possessed* him and *forced* him to kill all those people -- so Hal Jordan was actually innocent, you see. I'm not sure that two lame plot twists make a right, but anyhoo...

My point here is that Parallax didn't even exist when I used to read the comics 15-20 years ago, except for when the name was introduced as Hal Jordan's supervillainous persona. And the notion of Parallax as some sort of galactic threat that pre-exists the Green Lantern Corps -- which is the basic premise of this entire movie -- wasn't introduced until some time after *that*.

So the whole fear-will dynamic could very well represent where things are *today*, more or less. I just don't know that it's always been this way, is all.

Incidentally, another thing they tried too hard to pack into the movie is the scene that they added to the middle of the closing credits, which sets up the sequel. Someone does something, and it's not at all clear why he does it; it doesn't particularly follow anything that we saw them do in the previous scene, or the scene before that. It kind of comes out of nowhere, just because the filmmakers feel a need to set up a sequel. So we can add that to all the other stuff you've already cited as evidence of how the movie tries to pack too much into its running time.

Here's the closing-credits scene in question; obviously, a SPOILER ALERT belongs here (although, honestly, when I heard that this film HAS a closing-credits scene, I pretty much guessed what it would be):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLlhMwrofOo

I had left the theatre before seeing that closing credits scene, and like you've said it's not much of a surprise that that scene is thrown in. I think your right that it doesn't fit..... one big reason being that he surely would have known what had happened to the human professor.

It sounds like the comic book already had a lot of stuff packed into it over the years, so in some ways, maybe the movie is even parred down a bit from the mythology in the comics. I wonder what the newer fans of the Green Lantern, who are in their early teens and therefore less likely to be critics or reviewers thought of the movie, as it would seem to line up more with their understanding of the comic. I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have noticed many of the movies problems when I was 13. Maybe the filmmakers know this, and knowing that they are gearing the film mainly towards a younger audience just weren't as worried about the story problems that we've seen.

I've read somewhere that younger minds are more interested in complex plot structure in films, and as one gets older he/she becomes progressively interested in more compelling character development.

Edited by Attica

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Given the reviews, I was expecting this movie to be far worse than it turned out. It's ridiculously disjointed and exposition-heavy (my only prior exposure to the Green Lantern mythology was the Secret Origins compilation, and I'm pretty sure it got more accomplished in a couple of panels than the movie did in its whole opening twenty minutes), and its father-son themes aren't even as baked as those in Thor. But nothing really made me cringe as I watched, which has to be something. The movie was bad enough that I started re-writing it as I watched, but not so bad that I felt like mocking it. Whether that speaks well of it or underlines its essential mediocrity is anyone's guess.

Here's my biggest beef with the movie: I really wish Hector Hammond had been handled better. (Not sure the following counts as spoiler material, but oh well):

I didn't realize that he and Hal were supposed to be pretty well acquainted until near the end--and since that solitary fact is important to the way Hal deals with him, one would think the whole thing could have been developed more fully. From what I could see (and contrary to my memory of Secret Origin) Hammond in the movie is a nice guy until he's infected with the yellow power; a little odd, perhaps, in the way that people intensely fixated on bacteria could be imagined to be, but not a bad person. I've known people like him. He's almost sympathetic, particularly when he's watching his father talk Hal up at the party. The half-baked father issues aside, there's the potential for the character to be really interesting, but it's squandered. He snaps and becomes totally evil? That's not satisfying; I wanted to feel sorry for him, wanted his degeneration to have an air of tragedy. But it didn't, and the movie's the poorer for it

Overall, the movie needed to rock harder and with less explanation of why it rocked. As it stands, it's easily the least-whelming superhero movie of the year.

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Given the reviews, I was expecting this movie to be far worse than it turned out. It's ridiculously disjointed and exposition-heavy (my only prior exposure to the Green Lantern mythology was the Secret Origins compilation, and I'm pretty sure it got more accomplished in a couple of panels than the movie did in its whole opening twenty minutes), and its father-son themes aren't even as baked as those in Thor. But nothing really made me cringe as I watched, which has to be something. The movie was bad enough that I started re-writing it as I watched, but not so bad that I felt like mocking it. Whether that speaks well of it or underlines its essential mediocrity is anyone's guess.

Here's my biggest beef with the movie: I really wish Hector Hammond had been handled better. (Not sure the following counts as spoiler material, but oh well):

I didn't realize that he and Hal were supposed to be pretty well acquainted until near the end--and since that solitary fact is important to the way Hal deals with him, one would think the whole thing could have been developed more fully. From what I could see (and contrary to my memory of Secret Origin) Hammond in the movie is a nice guy until he's infected with the yellow power; a little odd, perhaps, in the way that people intensely fixated on bacteria could be imagined to be, but not a bad person. I've known people like him. He's almost sympathetic, particularly when he's watching his father talk Hal up at the party. The half-baked father issues aside, there's the potential for the character to be really interesting, but it's squandered. He snaps and becomes totally evil? That's not satisfying; I wanted to feel sorry for him, wanted his degeneration to have an air of tragedy. But it didn't, and the movie's the poorer for it

Overall, the movie needed to rock harder and with less explanation of why it rocked. As it stands, it's easily the least-whelming superhero movie of the year.

I didn't take this character to be a bad guy at the start, definately a little odd, but for me he was more socially damaged than wrong intentioned. In this though he somehow still didn't turn out to be a sympathetic character. Maybe this character would have worked in other films, but for me he seemed more alien then the aliens, and therefore maybe the filmmakers should have fleshed out a little more of his humanity making something in him more likeable.

Edited by Attica

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Yeah...I took Hammond to be a quiet and gentle person, twisted by the the infection.

This movie was not terrible...but it sure wasn't awesome. I find it funny that Campbell put down Quantum of Solace as a mess, when I thought Green Lantern was a bigger mess. It's ironic that the part I had the least confidence in turned out to be one of the characters I liked most.

It could have worked...but what a terrible starting point for a (already dead?) franchise.

And really...I have to agree with the sentiment...

If all they had to do was hurl Parallax into the sun? Why didn't Abin Sur do that centuries ago? What about that required the human touch that the final words of the film make such hay about?!

And seriously? Your best example of 3-D in your film should not be the end credits.

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This movie was not terrible...but it sure wasn't awesome. I find it funny that Campbell put down Quantum of Solace as a mess, when I thought Green Lantern was a bigger mess.

I don't think it's a bigger mess. I think they're about equally messful.

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I'm really finding it impossible to get a sense of Martin Campbell as a director, or an action director, or whatever. His two Zorro movies are rather dissimilar. His two James Bond movies are rather dissimilar. I get the feeling he just sort of knows how to do whatever the producers expect of him, and if the producers haven't got a clear vision of what they're up to, then neither does he.

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Ultimately I felt the same about this as QoS...i didn't hate it...enjoed it at times and thought it could have been much better.

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This movie was not terrible...but it sure wasn't awesome.

Pardon me, Nez, for latching on to this comment, but this idea annoys me to no end. Why should it have to be one or the other? "Not terrible...but ... [not] awesome" describes about 99.55% of all movies throughout the history of cinema, including summer blockbusters -- AND including summer blockbusters that were rightly praised or wrongly hammered.

Yes, Green Lantern falls right into that space where 99.55% of all movies fall. Why was anyone expecting something different? Or, more pointedly, why did so many critics choose to treat the movie as though it DID fall into one of those categories (the bad one)?

I don't mean for you to answer. I'm just venting. The movie's not good enough to generate heated debate about much of anything, but neither does it deserve the whipping-boy status it's achieved.

EDIT TO ADD: I feel old and cranky.

Edited by Christian

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Actually, that was kind of my point...it is not nearly as bad as the reviews made it appear to be.

As a fan of superheroes, I get a little frustrated that so many, including Green Lantern, simply don't inspire to be strong fun. I found Thor a more fun ride than GL...and I find that true of most Marvel adaptions. I hoped for a little more (Hal's weaknesses seemed a bit muddled-to the point where we had to have scenes late in the film where Hal states he is afraid. And this isn't a bad starting place-but it should be a little clearer).

I did chuckle at a review that suggested GL is among the films we should hide away if aliens ever land, because it is all Rah Rah, Humans rock and the rest of you suck!" :)

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Pardon me, Nez, for latching on to this comment, but this idea annoys me to no end. Why should it have to be one or the other? "Not terrible...but ... [not] awesome" describes about 99.55% of all movies throughout the history of cinema, including summer blockbusters -- AND including summer blockbusters that were rightly praised or wrongly hammered.

Christian, you're exaggerating. I'd be surprised if more than 75 percent of all movies throughout the history of cinema, including summer blockbusters, fell into the "not terrible but not awesome" bucket. Surely terrible and awesome films combined account for at least 25 percent of the total number of movies made, and probably more. Especially the terrible ones.

Perhaps on Green Lantern we could commit to a stronger statement: It's mediocre, or at best borderline enjoyable, with glaring flaws.

Edited by SDG

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I'm really finding it impossible to get a sense of Martin Campbell as a director, or an action director, or whatever. His two Zorro movies are rather dissimilar. His two James Bond movies are rather dissimilar. I get the feeling he just sort of knows how to do whatever the producers expect of him, and if the producers haven't got a clear vision of what they're up to, then neither does he.

Interesting. I've been catching up on some of Campbell's films I've missed over the years (Beyond Borders, Edge of Darkness), and have been toying with the idea of doing a bit of a study on him, focusing on the question "Who are the current journeymen?" I think Campbell is actually one of the better ones in Hollywood; when his films really stink (Beyond Borders, Legend of Zorro) it's because of their scripts more than anything, and while his visual sense isn't super distinctive, it does tend to stick to more classical compositions -- or depending on the project, elevated TV coverage. But yeah, he adapts to what his employers want, hence the Bourneian Casino vs. locked down Goldeneye.

I think the best grip I can get so far on his "signature" as a director, if he has one, is that he remains most inspired by 50s-60s genre cinema - particularly French crime - and is out to emulate his favourite moments as much as possible. He mentions on the Vertical Limit commentary how much he loves The Wages of Fear, and takes pains to point out his homage to that film. I want to say that bits of Edge of Darkness, and Goldeneye, particularly the opening (before the plane) echo Dassin, but I haven't seen enough Dassin to say that with confidence. And moving beyond French inspiration, Beyond Borders is a three part tribute to Lean.

So, given his strength as a B-movie director who has directed many solid action sequences on location (even Legend of Zorro's best element was its sword fighting), I've been both curious and mildly dreading the CGI-heavy Lantern. The previews and the bland, assembly-line nature of the CGI shots they showcase are keeping me away for now. I'm hoping it comes to the cheap theatre in my neighbourhood.

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SDG said:

Perhaps on Green Lantern we could commit to a stronger statement: It's mediocre, or at best borderline enjoyable, with glaring flaws.

But also with some really fun scenes and interesting snippets of ideas. Maybe the film has sparked conversation because people are seeing more failed potential in this movie than

they've seen in some other flawed movies.

Edited by Attica

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SDG said:

Perhaps on Green Lantern we could commit to a stronger statement: It's mediocre, or at best borderline enjoyable, with glaring flaws.

But also with some really fun scenes and interesting snippets of ideas. Maybe the film has sparked conversation because people are seeing more failed potential in this movie than

they've seen in some other flawed movies.

I would think so. The movie's got good bones, and it's a shame to see its potential squandered like it is (unlike Thor, where the movie lives exactly up to its potential--its potential just isn't that great).

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N.W. Douglas wrote:

: Interesting. I've been catching up on some of Campbell's films I've missed over the years (Beyond Borders, Edge of Darkness), and have been toying with the idea of doing a bit of a study on him, focusing on the question "Who are the current journeymen?"

Interesting.

And speaking of Edge of Darkness, there's another potential twofer, since Martin Campbell directed BOTH the 2010 movie starring Mel Gibson AND the 1980s mini-series that it was a remake of. I have not seen the mini-series, so I don't have a clue how it compares to the remake, but, just as Campbell directed two very different Zorro movies and two very different James Bond movies, I wonder if there might be some similar, uh, dissimilarities between his two versions of Edge of Darkness.

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I think it has always been the name that made this guy a wus to me. I mean, you gotta come up with a name for yourself, and you choose a color, strike one. Then, green? Ump just called you out on two strikes, buddy. And a lantern? Manager just sent you down to the Minors.

Edited because I still don't know the difference between woos and whus and wus and really don't care anymore

Edited by Persona

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