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Green Lantern (2011)
Brightest Review from a Comic and Non-comic Fan
I'm comic book fan who's read Green Lantern since the late 80's and was privileged to see this movie early with a friend, who is a non-comic book fan in general. So what you're getting in this review are 2 fan perspectives:
The story was told very simple. Those familiar with the comic, it follows very closely to the Secret Origins (2008) arc written by Geoff Johns, more so than the original Hal Jordan story back in the Silver Age revival.
The film is 90% story setup and 10% action sprinkled throughout the film, most of them at the end with a short and uninspired final battle (a gripe similar to Fantastic Four film in 2005). This film could've used a LOT more action; most of it already revealed from the trailers, believe it or not.
The pacing felt unbalanced. My friend thought the movie tried to fit in a lot of plots and stories like Spider-Man 3 did with the transition from earth to space, back to earth, back to space, back to earth... a little foreboding when the better space scenes were few and far between. There's a post credit scene too.
This film is very heavy in that department. It's a hit or miss. It works, but some may think it's a little silly.
A gripe we had was that the CGI on some of the movements of the characters were so outdated like almost 10 years aka Spider-Man (2002). You would think after all these years we could see better CGI animation especially when it transitions from live action Hal Jordan to CGI Hal Jordan.
Also, Hal Jordan's constructs in this movie were a little too "cartoony". He basically created everything from a flamethrower, gatling gun, artillery gun, a SWAT shield, catapult, jetplanes, and even a cadillac dragster complete with it's own green speedway to drive on to! For a live action movie, just felt a little over the top silly. Not even the Justice League TV animated series, John Stewart, ever made these kinds of constructs.
Also, my buddy made a point in that the power of the ring was too godlike for non-comic book fans to grasp - the "McGyver of rings". Once Hal Jordan completed his short training (yes, short), you knew he was just going to be unstoppable. No problem with comic fans, but it might be a little bit of a turn-off to the casual viewer since it made the villain look pale in comparison, especially in the anti-climactic final battle, which the trailers actually gave a hint to on how it would end. I mean, how else would you kill off space tentacles?
Mark Strong definitely was the best cast of the film. He played the cool and calculated Sinestro better than I'd imagine. Although they were not really "buddies" in the comics, a missed opportunity I thought was that it would've been better if they had played more on the relationship between Hal Jordan and Sinestro as something a bit more than just mentor to student, in order to build up a stronger emotional bond when the "inevitable" heel turn happens to strengthen a sequel, i.e. think of Peter Parker and Norman Osborne. Yes, every 9 year old kid can point that out Senestro will be evil just based on the name.
Peter Sarsgaard who plays Hector Hammond was average; nothing really memorable in terms of acting. Another missed opportunity I believe was the fact they could've played more of the "Norman Osborne / Spider-Man as Peter Parker identity" relationship on this one too; will not spoil the film so I'll leave it at that.
Blake Lively played the typical bossy childhood girl (friend) who plays hard to get, but changes her heart once the hero saves the day. One of my least favorite characters in the film actually, with some of the most corniest lines. The romance almost felt like it was just there to give the film a romance plot that really could've been done without. Don't expect anything too deep like Peter Parker & Mary Jane chemistry-wise, or even that of Thor & Jane Foster.
Ryan Reynolds was a mixed bag. My buddy thought he was "okay" as Hal Jordan (not knowing anything about the comics), while I thought some of the inner monologue jokes from him were more appropriate coming from Guy Gardner (another Green Lantern) or even Wally West the Flash. Actually, most of it was simply Ryan Reynolds just being Ryan Reynolds (see Van Wilder) and made me wonder how much ad-lib he had in the script? Overall I wasn't impressed, but not disappointed either. But unlike what Christopher Reeve brought to the big screen as Clark Kent/Superman, or what Hugh Jackman brought as Wolverine, Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark, and even Chris Hemsworth as Thor... Ryan Reynolds didn't quite bring it as real comic book fans would know Hal Jordan.
All in all this movie was a decent summer movie. The pacing was off, and you don't really have any emotional pull for the characters. The final battle ends before you knew it even started. It's not as good as this year's other comic book predecessors in X-Men 1st Class, and Thor. Don't come expecting deep character developments or you may be disappointed, as the movie doesn't take itself way too seriously as it should. For a 105 minute movie, the best parts were near the end in the last 15 mins of the film.
The real winners in the audience are definitely the kids, because it is a good kid's movie. Green Lantern may not be the best summer movie of this year, but this movie may brighten your day.
Babylon A.D. (2008)
Babylon A.D. more like Blah-bylon W.T.F.
... dot, dot, dot and more.
Those are the things that will be going through your mind the moment you finish this film. I do enjoy Vin Diesel movies including Pitch Black, Riddick, heck I enjoyed Fast and the Furious. But instead of enjoying Babyloan A.D., it put an end to my joy.
1) No Character Development - Didn't care for any of the characters at all. None. The movie seemed to try really hard in developing the 3 main cast but failed miserably. The only close semblance to a character is probably Sister Rebeka, Michelle Yeoh's character, but even that character wasn't enough. You could tell the movie tried to warm the audience to Vin Diesel's character, Toorop. One of the weirdest moment of the movie notably came when Toorop, who is portrayed as a cold, always grumpy, foul mouth, bad @$$ in the film, all of a sudden started making jokes and being polite sharing drinks while camping with both Aurora and Sister Rebeka in the snow; a complete 180-degree turn from just a few scenes prior with him telling Aurora he wouldn't hesitate killing her.
2) Major Story Plot Holes - Nothing was explained, not even if you miraculously managed to have stayed all the way til the ending... a lot and I mean a LOT of things just weren't cleared up or explained to begin with, leaving a big huge empty mess. What happened to the high priestess? What happened to the religious order? Why did the orders try to blow Aurora up and then later her village, when they really want to just kidnap her? Why are the twins racially different? What!? Why!? How!? And just wait til you get the ending. Double-you-tee-eff!?
3) Spotty Camera Action Scenes Angles - Watching both Vin and Michelle's character during their actions scenes were a little hard to follow. Seemed like they were trying to go for the "Bourne" camera shots (i.e. Bourne Trilogy films), where the cam feels "shaky" hence realistic and not at all linear. But it seemed like whomever was doing the camera work (or the editing) just didn't quite know how to get that right look. What you end up, are semi-visual blurs of action fight scenes that just don't mesh well. Aside from the club cage fight, everything else seemed... eh. I mean, it's not that bad, but it definitely could've been better executed.
The only reason I gave this movie 2 stars is because I like Sci-Fi and the movie's visual effects, but the effects in itself was just done uninspringly.
I've heard rumors that there was a longer uncut 100+ minute version of this film in the European market. If that's true, why then did we here in the U.S. only get the 90 minute cut? Would've those extra minutes help explain all the prevalent loop holes perhaps? Who knows, but whether this rumor is true or not, it's too late to save this review from American soil. So if you're still insisting on seeing this movie, at least wait for a Director's Cut DVD to come out.
In the end, if you love Sci-Fi or perhaps Vin Diesel, please don't bother watching this movie still, or you'd probably wouldn't be loving them as much anymore. This movie was unemotional and uninspiring. There's a lot more movies in your local movie theater more worthy of viewing than this one. Please don't end your summer watching Babylon A.D. because in the end as you walk out your local theater, all you'll be saying to yourself is "Blah-bylon W.T.F.!?"