Movie Bag #5 – Green Lantern, Super 8, Priest

Green Lantern reminds us that Batman is the only DC star we should bother seeing on the big screen.  Ryan Reynolds plays Hal Jordan, a pilot with daddy issues, a concerned family, and a whole bunch of other details that cease to matter about five minutes after they’re introduced to the audience.  You could show up right when he gets the Green Lantern ring from the dying alien and miss absolutely nothing in this movie because none of it effects the plot.  Once he has the ring he gets transported to what I’ll just call Lantern Planet in order to expose the audience to a ton of pretty effects and exhaustive exposition.  He’s told how the ring works, participates in a fun fight scene, then goes back to earth after quitting the Green Lantern Corps.  He quit because there’s a pink demon Lantern who has daddy mentor issues and doesn’t think that Hal deserves the ring he got, which we’re told came from some great warrior.

Meanwhile one of Hal’s old friends who has daddy issues gets infected by evil yellow matter from within the dead alien and soon begins to mutate.  He communicates with Parallax, a being that represents the evil yellow power of fear that is coming to devour all life on Earth (why Earth?) so that he can be powerful enough to destroy the Green Lantern Corps.  The movie then cuts back and forth for a while between Hal brooding and the Lanterns talking about how big and scary Parallax is.  Parallax attacks Earth, so Hal goes back to the Lantern Planet to ask permission to fight him.  Why?  Hell if I know.  He already quit the Corps so there’s no reason for him to be reporting to or taking orders from anyone.  He then flies back, lures Parallax to the sun, and tricks him into burning to death.  If Parallax just needed to devour the planet why would he follow Hal across the solar system?  He’s leaving the planet unguarded, so it should be like a free buffet!  Even if he needed to kill Hal for whatever reason, why would he follow him to the sun?  Hello? Admiral Ackbar? IT’S A FUCKING TRAP!  Whatever, the movie’s over and I should be thankful.

Parallax, the flying evil poo monster.

Green Lantern was a mess.  Trying to cram in every bit of Green Lantern lore led to the 105 minute flick having about an hour of footage that could have been cut without affecting the plot.  There are far too many characters and most of them have absolutely nothing to to during the film.  The Green Lantern Corps has no impact on the story and only exists to shove in exposition (which is not how you tell a story!) and special effects.  Some African-American woman whom I’m sure was an important cameo makes regular appearances throughout the first half of the film and is even given a back story, but she just sort of disappears and is never mentioned again.  Tim Robbins’ talents are wasted as Hammond’s terrible father.  Some plot lines are resolved and some are left open, but most are just brought up and immediately forgotten altogether.  What about Hal’s piloting career?  What about that yellow ring that the Lanterns forge but then just decide not to use?

The writing was lazy, the acting was boring, and the premise was tedious.  The Green Lanterns use the power of courage while Parallax uses the power of fear.  This means that in order to defeat Parallax Hal had to fight him without fear.  That’s right, the power was inside him all along and he just had to believe in himself.  I’m sure that would have been a very satisfying ending for any viewers that NEVER SAW A SINGLE MOVIE DURING THEIR ENTIRE CHILDHOOD.  I’m surprised that Parallax’s weakness wasn’t love or boy-scouthood.

Super 8 is J.J. Abrams’ love letter to Stephen Spielberg.  We follow a lively young crew of wannabe film makers as they try to make a movie about a zombie outbreak.  They’re on scene when a military train crashes explosively, and they soon find themselves knee deep in a slowly unfolding city-wide disaster.  Most of these kids have never been in a movie before, but they’re perfect on screen.  Each one has a unique and well-defined personality and is easily able to display it for the audience, often within seconds of their first appearances.  I found that I really cared about the characters and held some genuine concern when they were in dangerous situations.  The movie takes some solid action scenes, horror, and solid comedy and merges them together seamlessly, giving you a wholly entertaining film that you’ll remember long after you see it.  I love to spoil bad movies to save people some money, but I enjoyed Super 8 so much that I’m cautious to say much of anything about it.  Super 8 might just end up as my movie of the year, though it’ll have to compete with X-Men First Class and Hanna.

Priest‘s premise is told in the form of a lazily animated cartoon.  Once upon a time the humans and vampires were at war and the humans were losing.  Flamethrowers and tanks simply didn’t cut it, so a group of warriors were trained by the church that rules the human race.  Known as priests, they fought the vampires in close-quarters combat with various small blades.  Somehow they are able to do what tanks could not, though the movie never bothers to explain why they’re so powerful.  Actually, they aren’t all that powerful for the most part.  There are two main characters who are priests, but every other priest in the movie dies as soon as they’re introduced and never really manage to do anything.  There’s no consistency when it comes to the abilities of priests, and the main characters often alternate between being fairly useless and being Neo.  The defeated vampires were rounded up and kept in reservations.  Why would they preserve a race that is so bent on their destruction?  Never explained.  Jump forward a few years and the main character’s daughter is kidnapped by vampires.  He has to rebel against the church in order to look for her because for some reason the clergy doesn’t like the idea of a vampire hunter hunting vampires.  Never mind that they created the priests in the first place, I guess.  The majority of the premise becomes irrelevant once the movie gets rolling, leading to a pretty standard quest movie.  The acting is abysmal, with most of the actors sounding like they’re reading their lines for the first time.  Karl Urban seemed to have a lot of fun as the villain, putting some serious effort into an enthusiastic performance, but one person can’t save a movie like this one.  Priest doesn’t even function as a mindless action flick because most of the active scenes are short and spread far apart in order to make room for repetitive and unneeded exposition.  Avoid.


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