Thursday, June 23, 2011

Green Lantern: Better than expected

Spoiler filled thoughts on the new Green Lantern movie. Basically, I thought it was good. Was it as good as The Dark Knight or Spider-Man 2? No. Both those movies were great. But I think that many of the complaints I've seen generically suffer from a retcon (see what I did there? if you did you're a geek.) of previous super hero based movies as better than they were. To me, Green Lantern did the big things right. It took the characters seriously and made an effort to be accessible to people who don't read Green Lantern comics. While I didn't really think Ryan Reynolds was Hal Jordan that's only because I know more than the average moviegoer about the Hal Jordan character.

In fact, most of the specific criticisms I have heard strike me as not just being off base, but seriously suggesting the person making the criticism is an idiot because they were explained in-movie.

The four common complaints I've heard are:

How Did He Get So Awesome So Quick?
Paralax is able to defeat multiple Green Lanterns including a strike force described by Sinestro as the best Lanterns in the corps. Hal, after a very brief training sequence somehow becomes awesome and is able to defeat Parallax.

First, this conflates mastery of the ring itself with tactics. Hal Jordon didn't defeat Parallax because he mastered the ring; he defeated Parallax because he was willing to sacrifice himself in order to do so. This was set-up in the movie both in the scene where he defeated the prototype drone fighters by going above the safe flight ceiling causing both his planes and the drones to stall out and immediately prior when Carol Ferris pointed out his willingness to go outside the rules of engagement as a way to defeat Parallax. This was a skillset he had before becoming a Lantern.

Second, Hal's entire character arc was driven by the realization that the ring did not choose Hal because he was fearless. It chose him because he had the ability to overcome his fear by acknowledging it and fighting on regardless. This wasn't implied -- Carol Ferris gave the speech and then Hal repeated it to the Guardians.

Parallax was able to defeat the other Lanterns because they were afraid, not because they lacked mastery over the ring. Hal beat Parallax because he accepted his fear and, again, realized he would likely die and was willing to make the sacrifice. He even said this prior to engaging Parallax.

Sinestro taking the ring was out of character
I think this is an example of a critique that doesn't hold up in movie. In the movie, Sinestro was a militaristic hero who, when confronted with a challenge, consistently went for the most powerful aggressive solution. He did this in training with Hal. He did it when conferring with the Guardians. And when he learned of the history of Parallax his immediate response was, if fear (the source of Parallax's power) is more powerful than willpower (the source of the Green Lantern power)then they should use it "to keep our sectors safe". There was never any hesitation or indication that this was, in his mind, some kind of last resort. So when he took the yellow ring at the end it was completely consistent with his character in the movie.

I think that too many people are bringing along the history of the character from the comics where Sinestro's fall was long and windy. Also, in the comics Sinestro had gone to the dark side before taking the power of the yellow ring. In the movie continuity it's yellow that corrupts. As explained by Hal in his big speech to the Guardians.

Too Much Going On.

Sorry. Just don't see it. Maybe I just am smarter than most. Then again my 10 year managed to follow it too. So maybe not.


At Thursday, June 23, 2011 7:47:00 PM, Anonymous robv said...

i don't care to see it - but after watching the trailers, maybe that can be next year's kit design... NOT.


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