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Green Lantern: A Retrospective

Green Lantern: A Retrospective published on

I hadn’t seen Green Lantern (Campbell) since it was released in 2011 and I can’t say it left a great impression on me at the time. I found the overall story flat and uninspiring with the characters a little bland and not particularly deep or likeable and as origin stories go it was by the numbers. In fact the whole thing had been done much better in 2009 with the animated feature Green Lantern: First Flight (Montgomery), this wasn’t the first time that DC had put out a superior animated feature covering similar territory. In 1997 they released the widely derided Batman & Robin (Schumacher), followed by the animated feature Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero (Kirkland) which covered similar ground and had been held back by Warner Bros. for fear it would over shadow their live action dud.

For all intents and purposes this should have been the beginning of a live action DC universe, Marvel already had the drop on DC by 3 years with Iron Man (Favreau, 2008) and Man Of Steel (Snyder, 2013) was still 2 years away. Given its science fiction leanings, with a healthy dose of cop thrown into the mix this should have been the perfect starting point for the more ‘God’ like elements of the DC universe and should have put an end to Warner Bros. reliance upon Batman and Superman titles that have been their cash cow since 1978.

I’m not sure what prompted me to re-watch Green Lantern 6 years later, or buy it for that matter, however 25p for the Blu-Ray Extended Cut on Amazon, courtesy of Music Magpie, certainly helped sweeten the pot. So with some trepidation I sat down to watch a film that memory convinced me was nothing short of terrible, one of the worst comic book movies to ever grace our screens, right down there with Catwoman (Pitof, 2004) and Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance (Nevaldine, Taylor, 2011).

Was it as bad as I remembered? Well no, but it wasn’t great either. The Extended Cut runs a little over 10 minutes longer than the cinema release and doesn’t add a great deal to the plot, unlike ‘classic’ Directors or Extended Cuts like Aliens (Cameron, 1986) or The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy (Jackson, 2001, 2002, 2003). The additional 10 minutes don’t alter the film in any significant or noticeable way there are no revelations in the additional footage that change relationships or plot points the film gets to its destination in much the same shape, it just takes 10 more minutes to arrive.

6 years on I still think Ryan Reynolds is woefully miscast, and was apparently cast against director Martin Campbell’s wishes as he had wanted Bradley Cooper for the part. I don’t think either would/are suitable choices both actors are largely inter-changable but I find Reynolds is just far too cocky and carefree to be believable as Hal Jordan. I’ve always thought of Jordan as a straight arrow albeit one who would bend the rules rather than flat out ignore them as he does with Reynolds interpretation.

Reynolds isn’t the only one miscast, Blake Lively, as Carol Ferris, just seems woefully out of place. Whilst she isn’t reduced to eye candy I just don’t buy Lively as a test pilot, in much the same way that I still don’t see Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist in The World Is Not Enough (Apted, 1999). The part is underwritten and apart from one line of improvised dialogue “I’ve seen you naked! You think I wouldn’t recognise you because you covered your cheekbones!” the role is uneventful.

Peter Sarsgaard fairs a little better as Hector Hammond, getting to chew some serious scenery but the uneven pacing, more of that shortly, means that his arc whips by at breakneck speed and is over before you know it.

The remainder of the cast is filled out with a decent and dependable cast, but they have very little screen time and provide little more than lip service to their comic book originators.

Only Reynolds head is real!

As for the plot, pacing and editing. It is a little hit and miss from the beginning. This is very much a by the book origin story and feels like a collection of scenes in desperate need of a plot, it bounces back and forth between earth and space and Parallax. For the sake of the plot Jordan learns to use his ring and powers with surprising ease and the training montage flies by in less than a couple of minutes as does Jordans’ doubt in his abilities before a final act turn around. As for the final act it is a little underwhelming, Parallax isn’t written as the massive threat he/it should be and follows the trend of evil clouds previously seen in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (Story, 2007).

I think that happens to have been my biggest issue with the film watching it again, whilst it gloriously embraces the science fiction elements of the source material there is too much of the film that is CGI, from the Green Lantern costumes to 95% of the Lanterns. Almost every scene features some digital tinkering making The Phantom Menace (Lucas, 1999) look positively restrained in comparison. The CG just makes everything look weightless and this film was there at the beginning for global disasters lacking the gravitas they should have. 

I think the character could have greatly benefited from a sequel, especially with the mid-credit sequence that suggests Mark Strong’s Sinestro would be the villain. Looking at Box Office Mojo I’m not surprised the film didn’t get a sequel as it appears to have cost in the region of $200 million, and only just broke even with a worldwide gross of just under $220 million. Even with the studio desperately trying to tag the film to the latest 3D craze that only just seems to be dying on its arse, it doesn’t appear to have helped the box office in any way.

The Green Lantern looks to be getting another go at the box office in 2020 with Green Lantern Corps. so like Ang Lees Hulk (2003) this appears to be the forgotten step child that DC doesn’t talk about. Had there been a better more well rounded script who knows we may have had a sequel by now and have even been talking up an appearance in Justice League (Snyder, 2017). As it is we’ll simply continue to chalk this up to one of the many comic book misfires and at the time of writing this is the 837 most (un)popular film on IMDB.

DCEU: A Franchise In Crisis

DCEU: A Franchise In Crisis published on

How the hell is the DCEU in crisis after only three films?

Some seem to think that Zack Snyder is to blame, he has after all directed Man Of Steel and Batman Vs Superman and is the Executive Producer on Suicide Squad. Sadly he is also credited as ‘Story By’ on the upcoming Wonder Woman, a film that apparently is in crisis according to one ‘supposed’ former Warner Bros. employee. Along with numerous sites reporting upon the apparent behind the scenes issues at Warner Bros. here’s one and here’s anotherThere are also a number of reports that Suicide Squad had various competing edits that left fans with, personally the best DCEU so far, a mess of a film.

Suicide Squad PosterSo what the hell is going on, DC/Warner Bros. are working with some of the most recognisable characters in comic books but somehow don’t seem to be able to craft a film that isn’t full of plot holes, questionable dialogue or crappy editing.

Wonder Woman has a lot riding on it, yes we’ve had the surprising release of the Justice League trailer which presented us with some surprisingly light and funny dialogue. But Wonder Woman is the first superhero feature film to have a woman in the lead since Elektra in 2005 and we all know how well that one was received.

Sooner or later a comic book film is going to tank really big at the Box Office, like Fantastic Four big and it’s going to kill the current goodwill that comic book movies have with the wider cinema going audience. I’ve written previously about the tipping point regarding comic book related properties, here, and with DC’s recent announcement that the possible Booster Gold film wont be part of the DCEU it seems pretty clear that should Wonder Woman and Justice League not fair so well at the box office Warner Bros./DC’s slate of announced titles could get a lot smaller unlike Marvel’s which seems to add a new title every couple of months.

Batman Vs Superman: The 150 minute trailer

Batman Vs Superman: The 150 minute trailer published on 1 Comment on Batman Vs Superman: The 150 minute trailer
Released in 2010.

Boy can Zack Snyder construct a scene, visually this film is an absolute treat to look at. Much like Sucker Punch or Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga’Hoole but like those films style over substance does not a great film make.

I’ve seen the film twice now, my first reaction was that the film is a mess, a glorious mess, but still a mess none the less. Second time around I enjoyed the film far more, watching it in 2D as opposed to 3D doesn’t influence my decision. If anything the 3D added nothing to the experience nor the film, though this probably wasn’t helped by Snyder and his editor David Brenner’s desire to induce epileptic fits in their audience during the action sequences.

So what was it I enjoyed more the second time around?

If I’m being honest, nothing.

Second time around I was able to sit back and be swept along by the film. It wasn’t that the film was or is difficult to follow first time around it was more that there was so much to follow that you couldn’t enjoy the experience.

The biggest issue and this could be levelled at most of Snyders work is that it’s a collection of scenes and moments in search of a narrative to hold it all together. It’s hardly surprising that his two best films 300 (2007) and Watchmen (2009) are based upon pre-existing material so it would have been near impossible for the man to screw them up.

Personally I think Snyder has taken more flack than maybe he deserves, no one seems to be questioning David Goyer or Chris Terrio’s screenplay. And that is probably the films biggest weakness because at its heart this should be a story about Lex Luthor manipulating both sides against each other. Drawing upon Supermans lightness and mistrust of Batmans methods whilst simultaneously drawing upon Batmans strategic thinking and forward planning SHOULD Superman become a threat.

JLA #43-46. Written by Mark Waid. Art by Howard Porter.
Released in 2012. Directed by Lauren Montgomery.

Much like in the 2000 Justice League storyline Tower of Babel, which in turn was also the basis for the DCAU feature Justice League: Doom. Batman would never allow for a 1% margin of error, it’s 100% or not at all.

Instead what we get is Clark investigating ‘The Batman’, Bruce deciding that 1% is all he needs for justification to take out Superman and Lex sort of doing this, then that for no really clear reason and no end game really in place.

The whole film is setting up the rest of Warner Bros. and DC’s slate of 9 films over the next 4 years so what we end up with here is a 2 1/2 hour trailer, with trailers in the middle of it! Another thing that further hinders the film is that the majority of the film is covered one way or another in the marketing and promotion of the film. Personally the marketing guys dropped the ball on this, the film’s big reveals should have been nowhere near the promotion of this film.

The Trinity

Snyder’s handling of Superman has faced criticism since Man Of Steel (2013), and it hasn’t improved much in the intervening 3 years. In fact it feels as though there is a whole film missing between the events of Man of … and BvS even if it weren’t another world threatening event it still feels as though there is a huge chunk in the Big Boy Scouts story, his relationship with Lois being one thing, missing from the narrative.

Batman is handled a little better, in fact there is nothing wrong with Ben Afflecks performance and portrayal of The Dark Knight, whilst it’s nice to not have to go through the whole origin story again it’s still massively unclear how long he has been active and if he was semi-retired before the events of Man Of Steel brought him back into action. Batman’s fighting style was probably the best portrayal to date, with Affleck utilising multiple techniques in the various action scenes. In fact I wasn’t too bothered that Batman used a gun, particularly during the flash-forward/dream sequence that hints at possible events in the Justice League films, for me it felt like a necessary step (dependent upon what has happened in the intervening years) especially with Para-Demons being present.

Wonder Woman/Diana Prince however, should have been the films secret weapon. Given that for the first two hours of the films running time when she is featured on screen she is never mentioned by name nor gives herself a name until she decides to leave the Turkish Airlines flight she is on, with wonderful product placement. When the flight attendant calls after her, THAT should have been the moment fanboys and girls the world over knew that the Holy Trinity of the DC universe were about to lay waste to evil doers. Gal Gadot is superb in the role and I’m looking forward to June 2017 when her solo film hits, especially as she has a kick ass theme something which none of the other characters have. Just a shame the bloody track is called Is She With You? on the soundtrack from Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL.


Personal grips

As previously stated Lex Luthor’s motivations seem a little under cooked making for a somewhat weak villain with Jesse Eisenberg giving a very odd turn. Doomsday as well serves only one purpose and continues a worrying trend in comic book movies to have the final act look like a computer game as CGI figures better the crap out of each other and there surroundings. I was also left a little confused about the geography, I always put Gotham and Metropolis as being on opposites coasts or different states rather than being just across the bay from each other. The ‘trailers’ that Diana watches on her laptop of well edited security/surveillance footage of Cyborg, Flash and Aquaman also feels oddly placed and forced.

EDIT: And what the hell was that crap with Jimmy Olsen, if your gonna kill off a major character from Superman’s extended family at least have the nerve to name the character on screen.

In conclusion

As it stands the film is a missed opportunity to build towards an expanded universe, where as Marvel slowly built up to a universe that crossed over and referenced previous events, films and characters Warner Bros. and DC seem to be rushing things. I’m not as excited for DCs upcoming slate as I am for Marvels, I do hope that in the long run DC proves me wrong and that it does its characters justice on the big screen.

EDIT: I also hope that the extended, R rating, cut helps some moments during the film flow a little better particularly the ‘Martha’ moment as well as the action scenes and the completely excised character.

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