Wednesday, August 3, 2011

DC vs Marvel and How It Relates to Writing (pt. 1): Green Lantern

What's the first really bad movie you ever saw? Did it scar you? I was pretty young, 14, when I saw my very first horrible, rotten, stupid movie. Stupidest movie ever. Seriously. I'll tell you the name, but there's a good chance you won't be able to even look it up anywhere. It was so bad, it has 3 or 4 other names besides the name I saw it as: The Dungeonmaster. To my knowledge, it has never been made available on DVD. That's the closest I ever came to getting up and walking out of a theater. At 14. If that tells you anything.

Um, wait a second, the closest I ever came to walking out of a theater was Highlander II: The Quickening. All it took was that first few minutes where they start in with background narration or scroll or whatever it was and reveal that they were really aliens from the planet Zeist rather than the immortals that they were in the first movie. To this day, I'm not sure why I didn't get up and leave other than the fact that I was with my cousin. We got to see that movie for free, and I still felt ripped off. However, it's not quite as bad as The Dungeonmaster. Close, though, but it doesn't quite fall that far.

Green Lantern gave me flashbacks of Highlander II. From the very beginning. The opening sent me right back to that same place as watching the opening to Highlander II. Maybe it's because I already know the history of Green Lantern and  the Green Lantern Corps, or, maybe, it's because it was just bad. Based on the performance of the movie, I'm going to guess it was because it was bad.

I was hoping for good things from Green Lantern. He's one of DC's more significant heroes. Part of the Justice League. Has a cool gadget. And I love Ryan Reynolds. Admittedly, that's because he looks a lot like a good friend of mine. The two could almost be twins. I did think Bradley Cooper would have been better for the role, but, in retrospect, it's probably better for Cooper that he got passed over. Despite the good I was hoping for the movie, from the release of the first trailer, I was scared of what they were doing with it. As it turns out, I was right.

I hate to talk about rules, but the writers broke seemingly every rule there is for telling a good story. Let's see, do they have a prologue? Check. To make it worse, it's a non-essential prologue since they repeat every piece of information later in the movie as Hal Jordan discovers the story. So they have a prologue and they have needless repetition. I bet the script was full adverbs, too. Maybe it was one of those too many cooks in the kitchen scenarios, since there are, like, half a dozen people credited for the script.

They introduce at least half a dozen characters that serve no purpose within the actual plot. Yes, these are characters from the comic book, but they don't do anything. In fact, the whole point of introducing the rest of the Green Lantern Corp and the little blue guys that founded the organization is so that they can do nothing.


I could go on about all the things wrong with the movie, but it would be rather pointless, I suppose. Yes, I know what I would have done differently, but I'm sure there are plenty of people out there saying what should have been different, so that would be rather pointless, too.

What we have, when we boil it down, is a company, Warner Brothers, trying to make a blockbuster. Oh, and just by the way, Warner Brothers owns DC. They're not trying to tell a good story, they're only interested in tapping into the blockbuster formula, and, with the exception of Batman, they are failing miserably. And, I have to say, Batman has been an exception because they have Christopher Nolan doing those, and he is interested in telling a good story. For crying out loud, Warner Brothers, basically, fired Joss Whedon from the Wonder Woman project because his story didn't fit their blockbuster model. Seriously, what are these guys thinking? I can tell you... they're thinking about money not about telling stories.

This behavior is just like the big publishers work. They give you a list of things they want from novels that fit the formula of the blockbuster. They don't care whether there is an actual story there. They don't care that Harry Potter doesn't actually fit the criteria of what a blockbuster should be, they just want to duplicate the experience. But not the experience of Harry Potter, the experience of the money pouring in from Harry Potter. In our efforts to be published, we writers often spend our time scrambling after these rules and lists and trying to make everything we do fit into them. And we get are things like Green Lantern. Yes, it got made, but, really, would you want to be remembered for that?

Is there anything good to say about Green Lantern? Not much, but I'll give it a go.

Blake Lively was adequate. The role didn't require much, but she did deliver it. She came across to me as too pretty, really, to be believable. Hmm... maybe not too pretty but too dainty. She played the part well enough, though.

Tim Robbins was almost good, even great. His part was just too small to not like him to the degree that we are supposed to not like him. He puts as much into it in the time we have with him, but it's just not enough.

Peter Sarsgaard had glimmers of being really great. Unfortunately, as his condition worsens in the movie, so does his ability to play that part. He starts out as being sympathetic, but he's supposed to turn evil. We're supposed to not like him in the end. Instead, he just becomes pathetic. I think it wasn't his fault. I think he did what he could with a bad script.

I'd like to say Ryan Reynolds, but I can't. There is never any connection with Hal Jordan, because the script is just all over the place. We never care what happens to him. During the big fight climax at the end of the movie, there was no tension because, honestly, I didn't care if he died. I'm sure the writers thought that it being Ryan Reynolds would be enough, but, for me, it wasn't. Sure, he's his typical charming, roguish self, but it serves to distance us from the character, not tie us to him.

The Oath:
In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil's might,
Beware my power... Green Lantern's light!

However, saying the oath during the moment of crisis should not make you able to defeat the bad guy. Yes, it was dramatic, but it was also totally ridiculous.

So, yeah... I couldn't really think of anything that's completely positive about the movie. I can't believe Warner Brothers is going forward with the sequel.

We got to see the movie for free. It's a good thing, too; if I'd paid money for it, I would have felt ripped off. Like with Highlander II some 20 odd years ago, that was 2 hours of my life I'd rather have back. Even my 10-year-old didn't like it. he told my daughter that she should be glad she didn't go with us. At 10, he already has 2 movies that he's seen that are so bad, he would have walked out if he could have. The other one was Shyamalan's The Last Airbender. It's easy to like things when you're 10. Looking back, I can't believe some of the things I liked at 10. It seems wrong to me that stuff this bad is coming out. Stuff that not even a 10-year-old can get behind.


  1. Aside from the core DC characters, i.e., Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, ... I don't think many of the DC characters are all that interesting.

    Marvel has got a much better selection of interesting things going on.

    I used to like the Teen Titans but they fucked that up too. Raven was my favorite character.

  2. I truly hated The English Patient. I have not seen the Green Lantern as of yet but I do love me some Ryan Reynolds so I may see it just for that reason.

  3. Dungeonmaster, I wanted to see that so bad when I was a kid. I recall seeing a trailer... it had a wizard guy shooting stuff from his hands and a rock giant thing. Unless I'm thinking of a different movie. But if it was the same one then you're killing my childhood dreams.

    I don't think I started developing any real taste in movies until I was older. When I was a kid I loved Star Wars and that TV movie about the Ewoks almost as much. When I was really young I recall watching the Star Wars Christmas special and thinking it was the most awesome thing ever. Heck, I even recall watching some sort of JLA special once on TV - I geeked out so much I nearly wet myself. I haven't seen it over 30 years, I'm told it is one of the worst things ever filmed... I don't remember that, I just remember Hawkman tied to a table and nothing else.

    Funny thing, I was in high school when I first considered a movie so awful that I must get up and leave the theater. What makes that funny is that movie apparently has become at least a pretty well respected movie in some circles. Whatever, I hated it then, even if I remember almost nothing about it. It was called Hardware, and I don't know what it was about.

    Over the years I've grown to hate many movies, and I'll agree that the Last Airbender is crap. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it was one of the worst big budgeted movies in film history. I thought the cartoon was genius and had a hard time understanding all the scorn the live version was getting. I mean, how can you screw up something that bad? So when it came to Netflix I thought I would catch it and see if I liked it at all. Sometimes having lowered expectations can lead to a much more entertaining experience.

    But sadly, no. My biggest problem was the casting, I'm not sure what the plan was, but those kids had at least a passing resemblance to the characters on TV, but for the most part, did not deliver anything I would call 'acting'. I won't blame the kids for that, I'd place that solely at the feet of Mister M Night Shyamalan - he's fallen so far.

    Green Lantern though, it was a mess too. But I'd put that up more to a noble failure than a complete waste of time, because I did find some enjoyment in it. Those awful reviews allowed me to accept that it would not be another Batman movie, so I enjoyed it with much the same mindset I use to enjoy other movies that miss the mark.I can enjoy a nice scene or nifty exchange - and ignore the ridiculous aspects.

  4. What??? You didn't like Ryan Reynolds in green CG tights?? ;-)

  5. The only reason I sat through all of the Green Lantern was because I paid 5 dollars to the ticket and yes, I did feel ripped off. I was sorely upset I had given the studio money for that crap..err, movie.

  6. I responded to all of the comments much earlier today, but blogger chose the moment I was posting them to crash and took my responses with it. Very frustrating.

    Michael: See, I don't even think Superman and Wonder Woman are interesting. In fact, Superman is one of the most boring characters ever in all of comics. Rarely, very rarely, do they ever have anyone that can write that character with any depth. Other than Batman, the only DC Universe character have ever liked for any length of time is The Flash. Well, and Hawkman. Sometimes.

    Jennifer: If you want to see Ryan, I'd say skip Green Lantern (rent it) and see that new one he's in with Jason Bateman.

    Rusty: Yeah, that's the movie. Trust me, you'd want your time back if you watched it.

    As for Green Lantern, it wasn't the ridiculous moments that bothered me. It actually had a few good moments. It was the horrible writing that ruined it for me. I mean, I was already hating it 2 minutes in with that horrible prologue they gave it.

    I think I had other things I said to you, but I've forgotten them :(

    Sam: Ryan Reynolds in tights was fine, even green CGI tights. It was everything else that was the issue.

    Juliana: I understand entirely. I'd like to think that if I'd had to pay for it, I would have demanded my money back. I'm sure I wouldn't have, but it's a nice thought to have. I'm just sorry I can't demand my 2 hours back!