Quick Hit: A good cast goes wasted in this CGI fueled monstrosity.
For those of you that don’t remember, there was a Green Lantern movie once. It came out in 2011, and it starred Ryan Reynolds before he was in both Wolverine Origins (as a Deadpool-esque character) and then again as Deadpool in Deadpool. Deadpool actually takes the chance to make fun of it. And honestly, it deserves to be made fun of. It’s hilariously atrocious at times.
However, some of the atrociousness comes solely out of ambition. Making a movie about a man who has essentially limitless power that is an intergalactic space cop is risky, and Warner Brothers/DC went right into it. Money got ponied up for it, and it got made. The movie was well hyped – including a tie-in comic series. Seeing it in the theater I thought it was great to see some of the Lanterns on screen that I never would have expected – Kilowog (voiced wonderfully by Michael Clark Duncan before his untimely passing) and Sinestro (played capably by Mark Strong).
On the note of casting, all of it is actually pretty good. Reynolds makes a convincing, if cliché, Hal Jordan. Blake Lively plays a similarly dull character as well as can be expected. There is even credit that should be given to Peter Sarsgaard in his role as Hector Hammond, because he hams it up to the absolute fullest. None of their performances are perfect, but none of them are bad.
What’s bad is the over-use of CGI in a lot of the movie. I understand that giving convincing power simulations that are all generated from a ring that is powered by a lantern is probably something that has to be done using CGI. But did Parallax really have to be a cloud? What’s with villains in the more out there movies like Doctor Strange or Fantastic Four consistently being portrayed as clouds? And why, GOD WHY, did they have to make Reynold’s suit out of CGI? Did they run out of budget or what?
Another consistent problem is the fact that the movie is always slowing down to invent romantic drama. You don’t need to. The movie is most interesting when it is completely focused on Hal and his struggle at overcoming personal demons, as well as a disbelief in himself. It’s also a completely different movie when scenes are located on Oa. Dare I say that there was probably a good movie hidden somewhere that focused on Hal learning to become a Lantern, along with the inner turmoil that someone like Sinestro would feel at having a human come in and immediately be adept at rebuking fear and powering will – Warner, feel free to send a paycheck my way.
Unfortunately, there is too much in this movie to like. I turn it on occasionally, the same way I occasionally will submit to watching Wolverine: Origins. But hey, they can’t all be great. “D+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: Beautifully animated, this European/Asian collaboration from Studio Ghibli will be enjoyable for most.
Studio Ghibli, who we had the pleasure of covering once before with the excellent Spirited Away. Is one of the gems of the animation world. That’s why when I heard the absolutely bonkers premise behind the newest work from Ghibli, I knew I would eventually get around to watch it.
The Red Turtle (or La Tortue Rouge) does not disappoint in regards to animation style. The movie immediately plunges (no pun intended) you into the story of a man lost at sea. Eventually he finds his way to an island, and we get an animated version of Cast Away. The man struggles to free himself from the island, only to be rejected time and again by a – first unseen – Red Turtle.
After the man recognizes his attempts to leave the island are becoming futile, the Turtle eventually becomes a woman (I couldn’t make this up if I tried). They then reproduce, and Turtle Boy (as the name I lovingly bestowed him as) lives out his life and eventually leaves his hybrid parents. It’s a wild story that has all kinds of meta meanings, but I’m not here to try and pull meaning from it (ok, maybe a little bit).
The animation is beautiful. The majority of the animation is hand drawn and simplistic, with only the occasional computer generated wave making an appearance. The characters are simply drawn and have small expressions, but not much more is needed. The only dialogue is the occasional unintelligible shout, and there is really very little sound outside of the classical score. The film allows you to focus on what matters, which is the story and the feeling created by it. I really enjoyed parts of it, when it wasn’t quite so weird (like the woman and the man rising up into the sky).
I think the part I enjoyed most was how there were very few scenes that didn’t involve something happening, which is impressive considering there is a small amount of people on an island. There’s nary ten minutes when there isn’t huge waves, someone falling into a hole, or a turtle randomly appearing. It’s all flanked by some amusing moments with animated crabs, in a typical Ghibli style.
This film is good but not perfect, as I stated. It gets a bit too much in the metaphysical, and that lost my interest for a while. Overall, the film is a solid animated feature that is beautiful to behold. I’m giving it a “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: An enjoyable tongue-in-cheek action film.
Welcome to Christmas here at DFP! In the following weeks we’ll be covering some of the colors of Christmas – Red, Green, and White. Today, we’ll start off with the obvious – Red, a movie from 2010 starring Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren. The movie opens with Bruce Willis who is obviously in love with the girl he continues to call just to talk to her. Eventually, we find out he’s a secret agent – but a retired one at that. He kidnaps the woman to keep her safe (because he’s suddenly being attacked), and we’re off to the races.
Red reminds me so much of The Kingsman series, and what isn’t surprising is that they are both based off of comic book series. Red lends itself well to that, with some extremely comic scenes that are just as outlandish as you would expect, all the way down to bullets exploding rockets and pigs filled with grenade launchers. There is actually some real joy in watching slow motion bullets here, not done in an over-serious matrix type way, but instead with the glee of a child playing with special effects for the first time.
The cast is tremendous, even if they all seem to be a bit lazy in their roles. Some of that may be down to acting choices – after all, all of these ex-agents are pulled from retirement in order to help Frank (Willis) unravel the mystery of why people are trying to kill him. Some of it also may be the fact that they are all accomplished stars who probably don’t have to work very hard to convince us here. Willis seems especially apathetic, wearing his traditional “Oh Shucks” grin at times and his action hero star scowl in others. My favorite inclusion happens to be the criminally underrated Brian Cox (in everything, never recognized) as an ex-KGB agent turned ally. He lifts the movie up when it is starting to drag through the middle act doldrums, and the movie doesn’t really slow down much.
Eventually, the movie moves into a bit of the movie we’ve continually seen more of as the Baby Boomer generation – a movie about the elderly still being able to pull off amazing things (see The Expendables, Going In Style, etc.). That’s ok, because this movie isn’t really about the plot at all. In fact, the plot, which concerns an old mission, the Vice President murdering people, and a few other trivial bits of “Oh My”, is really dull and lands with a shoulder shrug. It’s almost as if those that were making this movie realized that people were only coming to watch stars like Willis punch a much younger version of himself (hey, isn’t that the plot of Looper?).
But despite all that, I found a welcome respite to the outlandishness that pervades nearly every action frame in this movie. Whether it was Malkovich, Mirren, or Willis, or even Freeman stating “we’re getting the band back together”, I embraced the cheese with open arms, especially after watching so many award worthy dramas taking themselves seriously lately. It was a good example of a movie hitting me at the right time, and I’m giving it an extremely generous “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"