Friday, 20 February 2015

Star Wars with Power Rings

Green Lantern has always been secretly a favourite hero of mine. By that I mean, that while there are a number of superheros that will always come before Green Lantern for me, there is something about Green Lantern and the idea of his powers that I've always liked. And although John Stewart is far cooler and more badass, I have always had a soft spot for Hal Jordan, maybe because I love his Green Lantern uniform the most.

Now I've spoken before about why the Empire was doomed once they went up against the Ewoks, or why a robot uprising led by R2D2 is inevitable but I haven't really discussed what makes Star Wars a space opera. Before I get into that, you may be asking how is this relevant to a intergalactic space cop with green jewelry? It's because, like I'll beat the point to death below, Green Lantern is a interstellar superhero.

The Green Lantern movie should have been Star Wars with power rings instead of lightsabers. No seriously, it could have been a sprawling epic spanning the galaxy with a variety of different alien species interacting and amazing space battles. More than any of the other mainstream DC superheroes, Green Lantern isn't tied to Earth but rather flew among the stars.

Look he's flying... in space!

While Superman might have the occasional interplanetary romp and even Batman has been known to breathe in space, Green Lantern is a truly cosmic superhero, part of an intergalactic police force, the guardian to a vast sector of space spanning solar systems. Due to the interstellar nature of the character, his adventures are should be sweeping space operas limited only by the imagination of the writer.

Where this relates to Star Wars is that a huge part of what made Star Wars resonate with so many people wasn't solely the fact there are lightsabers (although that is a good 70-80% of the reason) but because it offered this rich and expansive fictional universe with thousands of different alien species and hundreds of planets in a galaxy far far away. You have ice planets and sand planets and lava planets and forest moons and cloud cities.

There are creatures you can scarcely comprehend they look so weird or unusual. Alien races with their own cultures, fashion, and biological structures. And of course the obligatory green skinned alien girl. There is always a green skinned alien girl. And this vast diversity is matched by the futuristic or outer-worldly technology, with blasters, phasers, lightsabers, space ships, jetpacks, pod racers, and lightsabers.


And Green Lantern taps into that wild flight of imagination scifi like Star Wars offers. The initial hype for the Green Lantern movie even billed it as the new Star Wars, and that one of the Green Lantern's greatest strengths as a character was the fact that he can do these epic space adventures that most other superheroes can't really.

Free of the constraints of stories set on Earth, the Green Lantern can offer adventures on alien worlds thousand of light years away where the density is five times that of Earth due to the high density of the world's core or where the clouds are made out of crystal. He can battle space smugglers or space pirates, space ghosts or space mercenaries. Basically anything with space in front of it.

Like his eternal struggle against Space Jam.

But where it makes perfect sense for Green Lantern to be gallivanting out in space, it was always weird when the X-Men went out to another solar system to fight in the Shi'ar civil war with and against aliens millions of light years away, especially since the X-Men are ostentatiously supposed to be a metaphor for discrimination which doesn't quite work if they're completely removed from the environment of that discrimination.

Likewise, the Flash is such a grounded superhero, tied so strongly to Central City in the same way Batman is to Gotham, that although he could have the odd adventure on another planet, it was usually with the Justice League since it doesn't really fit his character.

Running in the vacuum of space? Seems legit.

Now I really wanted to like the Green Lantern movie, I really did. But for all the moments the Green Lantern gets the intergalactic part of Green Lantern right, there are at least two moments where he's on Earth moping around because he's not brave enough or playing Hot Rods with his power ring.

And although there was a lot of fan service in the movie by having so many of the Green Lanterns present on Oa when Hal is there, we never spend any time with them nor do we even see them do anything interesting or cool. They're just there. In the background.

Even worse is that because of the dark colour palette and terribly render CGI in the large group shot showcasing the weird variety of alien species that make up the Green Lantern corp, it makes it real difficult to distinguish the different aliens apart since they kinda blur into each other.

And honestly, that sounds way more racist written down than it did in my head. 

I honestly didn't care about Hal Jordan's childhood friend becoming evil and growing a bobble head, him goofing off with his nerdy friend, or even his relationship with Carol. That was all boring Earth stuff which, aside from the bobble head guy, should have been in the first act to set up his character and the life he lead... which he then leaves in the second act to fly around in space!

Also, the Earth stuff really bogged down the narrative since there was too much cutting back and forth going on between the two bad guys, bobble head and Parallax. Especially since the movie was trying to set them both up as legitimate threats to Green Lantern while explaining their motivations (bobble head is a creep who wants to sleep with Carol and is jealous of Hal, while Parallax is evil).

That was time we could instead have been spending with Tomar-Re because the more time spent with Tomar-Re, the better. Tomar-Re is the parrot fish looking alien who teaches Hal how to use his ring to fly. And it really is one of the more elegant scenes in the movie. The wry way Tomar-Re says, "We're gonna fly now" as though he knows what he said will blow Hal's mind but he's just gonna put it out there calm as can be because that's just how he does.

It's actually a great scene.

And the film would really had benefited from more scenes like that. They rushed the training sequence on Oa just to have Hal immediately doubt himself after Sinestro said something mean, so he quits and flies back to Earth. This was where we could have seen Hal truly realising the unlimited potential of the ring and develop his own unique way of using it, since every Lantern's constructs are slightly different based on their personality and imagination.

It also could have been an opportunity to see how the training serves to teach Lanterns to focus their will or highlight some of the many aliens we saw in the dark background before. But instead, we barely got to hear Killiwog really get lay into Hal for being a powser before he's whisked away back to Earth to play Hot Rods.

For some reason, I find the vastly diverse intergalactic police force armed with power rings more interesting.

One last thing, while a lot of people didn't like the casting, I thought that Ryan Reynolds would make a great Hal Jordan and truly he's one of the best things about the movie. Although at times a bit too jokey and immature, he really nailed the young Hal Jordan, cocksure and brash, unable to follow instructions yet dedicated.

Too bad he just happens to be a good Hal Jordan in a terrible Green Lantern movie.

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This introduction is supposed to let you know that you have found the correct Caleb. 

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