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Old June 18 2011, 03:31 AM   #62
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Re: Green Lantern: Grading, Review, Discuss, Tracking, Sequel?

Warning: Longish post on my thoughts, feel free to dismiss with a "TL;DR"

Twenty years ago, I became a Green Lantern fan. The GL comic, at the time, was handled by Gerard Jones, who wrote Emerald Dawn with Keith Giffen, the mini-series that defined Hal for the 90's. For those not familiar, Hal is introduced as he gets drunk, drives, crashes, and is sentenced to jail for 90 days. He spends time in lock-up until the ring busts him out and he spends time on Oa, missing the funeral of the friend who was in the car with him when he crashed.

On Oa, he meets Tomar Re and is trained by Kilowog. Eventually, they fight against Abin Sur's murderer, which looks like a giant yellow robot, called Legion. It turns out, the "robot" houses the Tchk-Tchkii race, which, like Parallax in the film, is an expanding blob that begins destroying Oa. Hal eventually saves the day and is accepted into the Corps.

It seems that, despite Geoff John's influence, this movie owes more to Emerald Dawn than John's recent "Secret Origins" arc in Green Lantern. As someone who became a fan during the time of Emerald Dawn, I liked the movie, and gave it a B+.

Hal, as we are introduced to him, comes off as more of a version of his ED character than his current one. Though DUI isn't mentioned, his brother does mention a motorcycle accident. The current origin of Hal has him as someone who was obsessed with flying and very little else. He screwed up his life, but because of his love of flying. In ED, Hal, like in the movie, comes off as more of a general screw-up, without a clear direction in his life.

As a whole Green Lantern is a difficult concept to capture on film because it is equal parts science fiction as it is super-heroic fiction. A lot of us love it because of the diversity of the Corps and the space-opera. To me, while I love GL no matter what, when his adventures are based on Earth, he's just another super-hero. However, unlike Flash, Batman, Aquaman, Superman, etc. he also has many adventures out in space or on alien planets.

The diversity of the Corps is another strength, in my opinion. While some of have viewed the idea of the corps as redundant, I have seen the potential in the characterization of all of these GLs who have the same power, but vastly different cultures, characterizations, etc.

Tomar Re is the compassionate one who comes across as your best friend. Kilowog is the big softie, whose bark is worse than his bite (especially after he trains you). Hannu is the big rock creature whose race views their physical strength as their primary trait and reliance on weapons (even the GL ring) a weakness. Boodika comes from a race of warrior women who kick ass and take names. Rot Lop Fan became the only member of the F-Sharp Bell Corps, since his race is blind, due to their planet being completely dark.

And Sinestro, Sinestro cares for order above all else. To the point where he turned his planet into a fascist state to make it more efficient.

My point in all of this is that there is so much to draw from, and yet, we only get a tiny bit of the iceberg. A more space based, Corps focused movie might have made for a better plot.

As Cracked pointed out, it did seem like a retread of other super-hero movies, most notably Iron Man (though I saw some shades of Spider-Man, especially with Hector reminding me of Green Goblin). The scene where Hal takes out the drones in the same way Tony took out the Iron Monger was a big thing that made me want to scream, "Iron Man did it first!" A shame, especially since it was such a minor scene.

Instead of trying to be unique, avoiding the super-hero movie cliches, and going with a more science-fiction/space-based blot, we got a focus on Hal and Carol, even though they are possibly tied with the Atom and Jean Loring as the worst pairing in comics. Clark and Lois, Barry and Iris, Wally and Linda, Aquaman and Mera, these couples have all, for the most part, evolved into loving relationships that lead to marriage. Hal and Carol bucked that trend by never marrying. They've been broken up almost longer than they were together. As soon as Hal got out of the 90's, they drifted apart and Hal got involved with other women, including, most famously, Arisia, the teenage Lantern (but, it's okay, since the teenage years in her culture means she's over 100 years old).

The movie, probably due to the focus of other super-hero movies on the hero and his girl, sticks with Hal and Carol. We get some great scenes of Hal on Oa, but they are few and far between. We get a screw-up Hal who, after a talking to by Carol, overcomes this.

As for the villains, Sinestro, Hal's greatest villain (arguably) does take some setting up, more than an origin movie can contain. So we get a minor Hal villain that Geoff Johns has taken a liking to in Hector Hammond. But, in a reverse of Sinestro, he works better when less time is spent on his origin and more on what he can do. However, that does not translate well to film.

And Parallax, well, as I said earlier, it reminded me more of Legion from ED than the Parallax from the comics. If they had to go with Hector, I think they should have made him a bigger threat and saved Parallax for the sequel (which could have played well with the after the credits scene).

Oh, and if comics have taught me one thing, it's that you never dispose of your enemy in the sun. That only brings more trouble later on (Superman and the Eradicator, as well as Firestorm and Brimstone as two examples).

Finally, I'm not sure I like the idea of the Guardians being the ones who created Parallax and the yellow ring. It works better when it is the opposite number of the Guardians, not a failed experiment.

Overall, the movie was like Transformers, which, if I shut my brain off, is enjoyable. The more I think about it, the more I find things that bother me. That being said, I do look forward to buying it when it comes out and watching it again at home.

I do think, however, if they do it right, this could be a time when the sequel will be better than the original. With what they hinted at, it has a lot of potential, I just hope they remember what makes Green Lantern unique.
"When I reach for the edge of the universe, I do it knowing that along some paths of cosmic discovery, there are times when, at least for now, one must be content to love the questions themselves." --Neil deGrasse Tyson
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