Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Green Lantern Review: Brightest Day, or Darkest Night?


Comic Book movies have been around for a very long time, but 2000’s X-men is what caused them to flood the market. Bryan Singer showed us that super heroes could be portrayed in a realistic setting. Eventually, the trend of attempting realistic super heroes peaked with the gritty Dark Knight saga from Christopher Nolan. Although I love Nolan’s take on Batman, I feel that it strays too far from its comic book roots, whereas Burton’s take on Batman wasn’t ashamed to admit it was based on a comic book. Neither were the Superman or Spiderman films. And with Marvel more concerned with portraying their heroes realistically, it would seem that real comic book movies were diminishing. This is the number one reason Green Lantern is so refreshing.

The story begins with an imminent danger approaching our galaxy, The Parallax, which is essentially, the personification of fear. The Parallax itself feeds off of the fear of others to enhance its own power. The only beings capable enough to stop this evil are the Green Lanterns, an intergalactic team of space cops powered by their special rings that hold the ability to transform ideas of your own imagination into reality. Getting this so far? It’s a lot to take in that’s for sure. In any case, the only Lantern that has ever been able to subdue the colossal monstrosity has recently been killed. With his death, his ring is passed on to another worthy combatant. That combatant is Hal Jordan, the cocky test pilot. Green Lanterns are warriors without fear, but Hal Jordan is anything but fearless.

Green Lantern is a fun super hero adventure that does what most comic book movies try not to do: embrace the fact that it’s based on a comic book. That’s not to say that its Batman and Robin, but I liken the feel and vibe to be somewhere in between Spiderman and Iron Man. It’s not as cheesy as the Spiderman movies, but it’s not as reality based as Iron Man. The story doesn’t waste time with dramatic angst like many do these days, and it doesn’t treat the source material like it’s something that it’s not. It’s kind of like watching a cartoon. I don’t mean that in a bad way either. The story certainly has some meat on it. Hal is a deeply troubled character, having witnessed his father’s gruesome death as a child. He is paralyzed by fear, but no one would ever guess because he masks his fear with humor, sarcasm, and boat loads of bravado. Ask him a sensitive question however, and he takes off with barley a good bye. Anxiety breaks down into two separate forms, fight and flight. Flight is absolutely Hal’s variant. He tries to quit his job, he dumps his girlfriend with things get too serious, hell he quits being a Green Lantern not two days into it! I identify a lot with Hal’s behavior. It reminds me a lot of myself back in high school when I suffered from similar anxiety.

Hal isn’t the only one crippled by fear. Hector Hammond, a friend of Hal’s (seemingly. They never really touch on this fact) is also a deeply fearful person. Hal may run from his problems, Hector just locks up and hides in dark corners. Hector himself runs into the aforementioned alien that recruits Hal, but Hector’s reaction is a bit different. Contaminated by the alien, Hector begins to mutate and transform into a hateful and twisted creature. His brain begins to grow to an unbearable size and he develops telekinesis and telepathy. One thing that this movie does very well is demonstrate why telekinesis is such a cool power. Hector is a damn near perfect villain for this movie. Being old childhood friends with Hal and Carol gives him some street cred for this role, but also the fact that he and Hal suffer from such similar problems. They are two of kind. They just evolved along different paths. One walked a path of justice, the other of evil. Sadly, the limited role Hector plays in the film mires what would have been an amazing conflict, and the history the two characters have is downplayed severely.

Parallax, the more ethereal antagonist, is a bit of a letdown. Though the idea and execution of the character is great, the build up to the final confrontation is lacking. The filmmakers opted to play the being as more illusive and mysterious than as powerful destructive force. The creature is supposed to feed off of our fears, and yet, the being is remarkably not scary. They have a few opportunities to showcase why this creature is to be feared, but the sequences are rushed and barely touch on the sheer potency of its power. One such sequence involves Sinestro, leader of the Green Lantern Corps leading a battalion of his best and most powerful Lanterns to face the Parallax head on. The scene lasts less than 5 seconds before it cuts away to Sinestro speaking with the Guardians (if Sinestro is the general, the guardian are like the president) about what transpired. They tell us what happened and did not show us. This is such a big no-no for me I can’t even describe. The biggest failure of this move was this scene. One Green Lantern is wrecking ball powerhouse of might. Showing an entire team of veteran Lanterns being owned by the Parallax would have been the absolute best way of selling the audience on the power of this thing. Not only that, but the Parallax just shows up when it’s time to fight Hal Jordan. There’s no buildup of tension, no slow simmer until the great pay off. Another problem here is that the end fight with the Parallax is rushed. Not only that, but Hall spends most of his time running away from the thing rather than staying and fighting. The movie is supposed to be about Hal standing up against fear instead of running away, so seeing Hal run from The Parallax is somewhat of a thematic betrayal. In truth, Hal is luring The Parallax away from Earth, but they should have duked it out until they got to where they needed to be.

Despite these relatively large flaws, the movie still manages to entertain. All of the characters are well done and the acting is great. Mark Strong is particularly amazing as Sinestro, while the voice acting talents of Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan are put to good use here a Tomar Re and Killowogg respectively. In fact, all three of these guys do such a great job as the characters they play, it’s nothing but shameful they had such limited screen time. But this movie is about Hal Jordan, so I can forgive. Ryan Reynolds plays a much more serious version of Hal than the trailers would lead us to believe, a fact that I am personally very thankful for. Though I was initially apprehensive about Reynolds as the Emerald Knight, He managed to impress me here. Could they have found someone better? Possibly, but Reynolds fits the role like a glove. The effects are spectacular and the action doesn’t fail to please.

All in all, Green Lantern may not be as good as it could have been, but that does not make it a bad movie. The only thing the movie suffers from is a script that really should have had at least one more draft. The narrative flow suffered here and the villains were not used to their fullest potential. That said Green Lantern is a fun, action packed film that doesn’t forego character development in favor of action. Most importantly, Green Lantern remembers one thing that too many super hero movies seem all too eager to forget: it’s based on a comic book.

I give Green Lantern an 7 out of 10. We are Corps!!!!

Pros

Hal is a very real character suffering from very real problems

Deep and imaginative world to explore with tons of potential for the future

Characters are great all around

Acting is awesome (special props to Mark Strong)

Comic Book movie through and through

Action packed and exciting

Greta effects

Oa is a cool location. Our time there is far too short.

Killowoggs training scene!

Brilliant method of extinguishing the big bad

After credits scene=full on nerdgasm

Cons

Villains aren’t utilized to their full potential

Narrative flow needs work

Poor editing

Romance between Hal and Carol was unconvincing to me

Final confrontation is rushed

The scene when the Green Lanterns attack Parallax was horrifically executed. WTF!

Wish there could have been more Sinestro, Killowogg ,Tomar Re, and Oa in general.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Star Crossed Galaxy Now Available On Kindle


Star Crossed Galaxy is now available for your Kindle through Amazon. Get a copy for your Kindle for only 0.99! You really can't beat a deal like that. Personally, I am very excited! My comic book is available on one of the biggest online retailers out there! Awesome!!!

If you don't have a Kindle, remember that Star Crossed Galaxy is still available for purchase from Indy Planet, Drive Thru Comics, and Wowio in both digital and printed versions. Follow the links to the side for your desired destination.

Don't forget to pick up your Free Comic Book Day Preview for Twilight Pop Productions titles including your first look at Star Crossed Galaxy #2. Oh and when Twilight Pop Presents #3 comes out, there may be something special in there for Dee'arra fans. Or there may not. You never know. Wink!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Hangover Part 2 Review


I remember when I first saw the trailer for The Hangover back in, what 2009? Doesn’t matter. Anyways, I thought the movie looked pretty funny. How could it not be? It had Davis from Tru Calling, that massive douche bag from Wedding Crashers, Riley from National Treasure, some other guy I never saw before, but seemed very funny, and was directed by the guy who made Old School. Little did I know how much fun that movie would be, and that I would know every one of those actors by name before my second viewing. The Hangover was an incredibly fun and funny movie.

Sadly, the Hangover Part 2’s trailer didn’t fill me with confidence. I laughed and all, but there was the unmistakably strange sense of familiarity. Other than the offensive reminders that this is totally a sequel (lines like, “It happened again!”), this could have been the trailer for the first movie. When I saw the negative reviews confirming my suspicions of a rehash, I avoided the movie. One of my friends, however, wanted to see it, so I thought, why not? If only I could travel back in time and kick past me in the balls.

The Hangover 2 is a terrible movie. It isn’t worth writing a review for, but since I have spare time, why not? Damn it! It’s that kind of thinking that got me into that theatre to see this piece of shit in the first place. Let’s start out with the positives, the main cast gives great performances all around, despite the shamefully unfunny material, its filmed competently and has one very funny scene taking place at an IHOP. Okay there we go, now on to the bad parts.

The most obvious crime the Hangover Part 2 commits is that the story is identical to the Hangover 1’s story, barring a few minor differences. Instead of Doug getting married, it’s Stew. Instead of Doug going missing, it’s Teddy, Stew’s future brother in law. Now, you would think that at very least, given the set up, we could actually get Doug involved in the plot searching for Teddy, but noooo. Instead he takes on the role his fiancĂ© (now pregnant wife) had in the last movie, except for in the opening scene which is identical to the opening scene in the first movie. It’s funny that the opening scene is identical, because it certainly isn’t misleading viewers for what’s in store for the rest of movie.

Hangover 2 goes for a darker, grittier, edgier gravitas, but it’s all for naught because we’re not watching a crime drama. We’re supposed to be watching a comedy, though considering the amount of laughs this half assed sequel generates, it may as well have been a crime drama. Hangover 1 understood something very important. Boundaries. Now, nobody wants to see a Hangover that doesn’t borderline on being too extreme, but the first movie had a certain plausibility. Hangover 2 takes these characters and the viewers so far beyond the boundaries of extreme, its flat out tasteless. You remember when Phil thought he was raped in Hangover? Wasn’t it a relief to find out he wasn’t? Don’t get used to that feeling. It’s worse than it sounds.

Allen, too has suffered from either following the Hangover 1’s script too closely or being taken too far to the extreme. Allen has not been changed at all from the events of the last movie. He’s still a loser, still a degenerate, and still has no friends. You would think that the Doug, Phil and Stew would at least be a little bit more friendly with the guy (well maybe not Stew), but once again, his sister has to pressure poor pussy whipped Doug into bringing him along to Stew’s wedding. I would like to point out that I can’t blame Doug for being pussy whipped. Hell, we should all be so lucky to be enslaved by Sasha Barrese. What’s worse in Allen’s case is that he has lost all of his cuddly charm and has been devolved into a pathetic and damn near sociopathic asshole. I don’t remember Allen being such a jackass in HO1, except for that one bit with his father’s car at the gas station.

To conclude, Hangover Part 2 is nothing more than a poorly executed sequel that merely cashes in on the success of its predecessor. The heart, charm and soul has been ripped out in favor of a bigger cast, more effects, and a helicopter. There is very little humor to be found, but don’t worry, they’ve replaced the comedy with penises, so I’m sure everyone will be satisfied with that right? If you were lucky enough to not see Hangover 2 quite yet and magically stumbled on my blog to read your first review of the movie, do yourself a favor: DO NOT SEE HANGOVER PART 2. You have been warned.

I give Hangover Part 2 an ironic 2 out of 10.

The Good

Virtually everyone from Hangover 1 returns, including Jeffery Tambor and Mike Tyson

Good acting despite the lack of humor

The IHOP Scene

The Bad

Same plot, structure, narrative devices and beats as Hangover 1

Doug sidelined for no reason at all

Darker, grittier and edgier for no real reason

Allen suffers from minor character derailment

Lacks the same charm and soul as Hangover 1

Very few laughs. Serving Sarah was funnier. That reaches a new level of fail.

Way too many penises

Some jokes are a little too extreme, others are way too extreme.

There’s going to be a Hangover 3

Friday, June 17, 2011

Blast From The Past



Well I was looking through some old stuff here and there, and I found old sketches of some Star Crossed Galaxy characters before we were Star Crossed Galaxy. I believe the original title was either Dead Planet or Black Planet. I don't remember which, just that it was a designation for a planet that is completely devoid of all resources and life sustaining capabilities. It had (and still has) relevance at the time. Later the title changed to Oracle, then Oracle Crusade, then Star Crossed, and finally, Star Crossed Galaxy. These were drawn by me in 2007. I drew up Cull, Paige and Taurus.

Cull was originally named Dermont Cull. After that he was Jedidiah Cull and lastly (and thankfully) Joseph Cull. I remember he was originally both a Captain and a grease monkey. He would build robots and things like that. He had a robot pet named ROC. Later, certain traits were taken from Cull and ROC and put into a new character. More on that guy later. Another little known fact about Cull is that he was at one point germaphobic and racist. You see, his racism was a bi-product of his germaphobia, blaming alien diseases for the start of The Great Plague. I cut this in favor of a more noble protagonist. In the end, Cull's new found nobility was way too much and he came off as a idealistic white knight, which wasn't working. I rewrote him yet again to combine the best of both worlds. Cynical, yet courageous. That's the way Cull needs to be.

Paige was supposed to be a tough Sarah Conner type character, with a huge emphasis on the bitchy side. I wanted to create a strong female character, but at the end of the day, I realized bitch does not equal strong. I rewrote the character to be a bit more normal and cute. Her strength comes from her military training, not her attitude. Paige went from being a hyper bitch that can kick your ass, to the girl next door that can kick your ass. Which one do you like better?

Taurus was initially designed to be the big dumb muscle, and to those who have read issue 1, you might think that hasn't changed. In truth, Taurus is quite a bit different, and the character smiling in the first issue is proof of that. Taurus was the broody jerk who used to be a soldier for an army that doesn't exist anymore. I realized he was just Canderous Ordo from KOTOR and the character got a personality makeover. At one point, he was going to be black, but I opted against that. I thought the big black guy with a big fricking gun was a bit of a stereotype and wanted to go in a different direction.

There was also a fourth character that I never sketched out. He was the older mentor of Cull who was basically a space samurai. He carried a sword and was deeply spiritual. He also lost his eye sight which was why Cull took over as Captain. As cool of a character as that was, I felt swords were pushing the realm of belief enough in the sci-fi story, and the blindness was just adding to it. I split the character in two and gave birth to Sabas, the aging mentor of Cull, and Dee'arra the sword wielding ninja girl. Blindness removed for good measure.

Its funny looking back at where Star Crossed Galaxy started and where it is today. The initial story line was much darker, more cynical and, in my opinion, lacked heart and likability. It was a story about a bunch of ass holes jumping from planet to planet righting wrongs. Why would ass holes right wrongs? Wouldn't they make things wrong? Now its a much more fun and lighthearted story. Not that the story isn't dark, or can't be dark. Its just less silly dark and more good story with both dark and light.