Sunday, July 22, 2012
Jay O. Sanders, Alpha Male: Martin Campbell's "(the) Green Lantern"
I guess I'll take a page from Donald Rumsfeld and answer my own rhetorical questions. I'll leave the destabilization of Iraq for the more politically connected types. Green Lantern is a bad movie. Many ingredients make up Green Lantern, but the principal components analysis points to Ryan Reynolds as being the chief bad ingredient. That's right, Van Wilder himself. Conan O'Brien knows what I'm talking about!... damn. YouTube doesn't have everything!
Full disclosure: I didn't actually see the whole movie. Our viewing was aborted after the hybrid helicopter and green race car, for full disclosure. But on to the third question, about the ingredients that go into making a bad movie. I can tell you for a fact that they are indeed not always the same. Sure, there's some fabulous special effects in this movie. The $200 million is up there on the screen, if only in the stars. The opening scene on the desolate planet was crystal clear in HD and looked ethereal enough. And then, there's the scene where Ryan Reynolds gets fired from his job... here's my question. Why exactly was that scene shot in the MoCap Studio? Did you notice no one sat in a chair or picked up anything off the desk? Not only is the Great Age of Cinematography in our rear view mirror, so is the Great Age of Production Design and Set Dressing!
I don't know why I'm being so fair. I guess director Martin Campbell was playing it too safe or something, but he can't be accused of slowing down the narrative structure. The plot, such as it is, moves along at a fine clip. I guess it's just how all the pieces don't quite fit together. Frankly, DC Comics has taken itself down a notch with this entry. I said it about Ridley Scott, so I might as well say it about Martin Campbell. The dude's almost 70! He just finished up working with tarnished Mel Gibson in Edge of Darkness, and pumped this out a year later. He's just thankful for every day he wakes up and his adult diapers aren't... well, you get the idea. I try to run a classy blog here. Tougher on some days.
Back to the plot. So these space guys land on a distant planet for some reason, and stumble upon the grave of the bad dude called "Parallax." Parallax sucks out their skeletons and heads out into space, like the skeleton head at the beginning of The Fifth Element. (spoiler alert: The fifth element is sexy Milla Jovovich) Parallax's first stop on its End of the Universe Tour: Abin Sur, the dude who locked Parallax up the first time. They say it's Temuera Morrison, but I still think he looks vaguely like Daniel Craig, in an homage to Campbell's Casino Royale, no doubt. Abin Sur is devastated by a sneak attack from Parallax, and crash lands on Earth. Abin Sur's life is in danger, and so is the green ring he wears. Time for the ring to pick a replacement for Abin Sur. Cut to Ryan Reynolds, a Top Gun-esque test pilot for the Air Force, or for Tim Robbins, one of the two. Tim Robbins? His Bob Roberts days are either behind him, or they've just lost the satirical edge.
Then there's Robbins' "son," Peter Sarsgaard, channeling the spirit of Michael Jeter, no doubt. Since I've been obsessed with peoples' ages lately, let me just report that according to the IMDb, they're apart by 13 years... (insert Southern joke here) Sarsgaard gets to perform an alien autopsy without Fox Channel cameras present, but with an animatronic Angela Bassett... oh, wait! It's really her! I guess I hate to admit it, but she's still pretty hot! Anyway, Sarsgaard gets a touch of the yellow from the alien, and becomes the bad guy the movie so desperately needs.
And speaking of hot, I suppose I should mention Blake Lively, the girl. There's a scene where she and Ryan Reynolds dance to their favorite song... no, it's not Kid Rock's "Sweet Home Alabama." It's something from the 50s; I can't remember what right now, and the IMDb sountrack page is no help. I asked my viewing companion about this, and we both agreed: it's more of a reflection on the old filmmakers than the young protagonists.
I don't know how seriously the film takes itself. I've never been a good judge of that. But it's stitched together out of too many parts from other movies. In GalaxyQuest style (but without the GalaxyQuest panache), Van Wilder travels through space for some Green Lantern Boot Camp, fires a giant, green, phallic machine gun, then flies back to Earth for a birthday party. You know how it is. Then, the big confrontation involving a helicopter that turns into a race car. You know a movie's in trouble when it's taking its cues from Son of the Mask. Even bitter, bitter Jamie Kennedy (of the Jamie Kennedy Experiment) would agree with that logic.
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan