Is Green Lantern Really That Bad?

June 21, 2011 at 8:29 am

Is Green Lantern Really That Bad? | Does Green Lantern Suck? | Movie Review

CAN YOU IGNORE BAD REVIEWS AND ENJOY A MOVIE?

When someone tells you that a movie is absolutely incredible you’re probably more willing to give it a shot.  When EVERYONE tells you it’s amazing it’s almost impossible to resist.  Especially if you trust their opinions.

The same can be said when someone despises a movie.  You’re probably still willing to sit through it but there’s almost no chance you will if EVERYONE hates it right?

I do my best to ignore bad reviews and focus more on whether or not I genuinely want to see a movie.  I definitely wanted to see Green Lantern but did the movie defy my lowered expectations?

THE GREEN LANTERN WAS PRETTY DISAPPOINTING

Nope.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how nice it would be if we had a summer movie season free of flops.  The streak definitely didn’t last long as Green Lantern is my first official flop of the season.

What went wrong?  To be honest, there was a lot I actually liked about the movie.  The sequences on the Lantern’s home planet of Oa were really interesting albeit cartoony.  I went in not knowing a great deal about Green Lantern’s mythology.  It’s incredibly complex and extremely cool but it took them an eternity to set things up.  Green Lantern had to be a challenging story to adapt.  How do you introduce such a complex back story without sacrificing the action audiences have come to expect in a summer movie. 

I believe this is the movie’s greatest failure.

Is Green Lantern Really That Bad? | Does Green Lantern Suck? | Movie Review

The story is well told but it takes more than an hour before we get to see Green Lantern in action. The movie disappointed me further because once the action arrived, it really wasn’t all that great.  I’m torn because Ryan Reynold’s Hal Jordan hasn’t truly grasped his true power yet.  I completely understand that his journey towards becoming a hero is the spine of the story but we really only get about 10 minutes of full tilt Lantern action.  Had the film delivered a more satisfying finale, I think a lot of critics would have been a little more lenient with their scathing reviews.  This was the downside to Ang Lee’s Hulk as well.

Ryan Reynold’s does his best to bring the fake looking CG suit to life but I found myself wondering when the big time action would kick in.  A lot of that probably had to do with Hector Hammond, the film’s human ‘villain’.

Is Green Lantern Really That Bad? | Does Green Lantern Suck? | Movie Review

I’ll get to ‘big baddie’ Parallax in a moment but Hector Hammond really bugged me.  All he seemed to do was scream in pain before we cut away to more of Hal Jordan’s personal struggle to overcome fear.  He didn’t really cause that much action at all.

When the time came for Mr. Hammond to be unleashed he really didn’t do that much and was ‘dealt’ with pretty easily in the end.  The real threat was Parallax but he only shows up once every 30 minutes or so to remind us he exists.

Is Green Lantern Really That Bad? | Does Green Lantern Suck? | Movie Review

Look at how bad ass he looks? I expected more.

Let him destroy a couple chunks of a city!  Make him more of a threat to Hal Jordan.  After spending so much time setting up an epic encounter with such a powerful villain, I was willing to give the movie a positive review if it delivered.  It didn’t.  The final battle was short and relatively painless for the Green Lantern.

It’s unfortunate.  I had the same complaint about the first Iron Man as well.  That final battle wasn’t the greatest.

IS THERE A POSITIVE?

In the end, it just took way to long before we saw the Green Lantern reach his potential.  It’s really just a full length origin story.  In a way, I don’t blame the filmmakers.  There is so much mythology to cover and it could have been a complete mess if they didn’t treat it properly.  Overall, I thought they did a great job setting up The Green Lantern Core and Oa.

But having so much story to tell ultimately took over what could have been a huge popcorn summer smash.

However, I also think that with all the back story out of the way, they can truly knock a sequel out of the park.  I’ll be willing to give it a shot.  Why not!  I may not have liked this movie but I did like the world…  You never know…

GREEN LANTERN 2?

Is Green Lantern Really That Bad? | Does Green Lantern Suck? | Movie Review

BURIED vs 127 HOURS

March 8, 2011 at 9:13 am

Single Location Movies: Buried vs 127 Hours | Movie Blog | Editing Blog

SINGLE LOCATION.  SINGLE CHARACTER.
DIFFERENT VISIONS.

A while back, I reviewed 127 Hours and how much I loved the editing.  As a professional editor it made me think about how to be better and more creative when I’m at work.  It doesn’t get much more inspiring than that.

A reader then challenged me to watch Buried and compare the two.

The basic complaint was that, given the genre, Danny Boyle’s film “had it easy with all his editing techniques, trippy sequences, and flashbacks.”

When it comes to single location movies featuring one character, you really do face challenges to keep it from becoming stale and boring.  In that sense, I think that 127 Hours did a fantastic job inter cutting between different sequences to keep the story moving.  On the other hand, a film like Buried managed to pull it off while staying in a six foot box the entire length of the film.  In that sense, the reader is completely right.  It takes a lot of creativity to create a feature film in such a confined location.

Which film is better?

I’ve created a formula to describe how I feel about both films:

Different filmmakers + Different approaches = We win either way.

However, someone has to officially win I suppose.  So let’s take a closer look.

127 Hours

Click here to read my 127 Hours review.

The Editing

Buried vs 127 Hours  An Editor's Perspective | Movie Blog

Editor Jon Harris did a fantastic job employing numerous styles and pacing techniques to pull off Danny Boyle’s vision.  It can be pretty difficult to mix jump cuts, speed changes, split screens while cutting between hand held and steady shots.  Not to mention cutting back and forth between Aron’s camera and ‘our’ camera.

When you factor in all those techniques there were virtually 12.9 billion different decisions that could have been made. (approx.)  When you have the ability to edit freely using so many tools it could have been a complete mess that was difficult to follow but they definitely got it right.  It takes an incredible amount of skill and precision to pull that style off.

It’s so easy to get caught up when you are editing a fast paced movie like that.  It’s also easy to second guess yourself.  Their instincts were bang on as the movie runs at a blistering pace.  Something the Academy recognized with an Oscar nomination this year.

I’ve never seen pain conveyed so well using clever editing techniques knowing just when to cut away during the final ‘arm’ scene.  It was brilliant.  It was inspiring.

The Story

I loved 127 Hours.  It’s a fascinating true story featuring an awesome performance by James Franco.

Director Danny Boyle made an important decision early on not to stay in one location the entire film.  I think it was necessary in this case to get a better glimpse into Aron’s life.  How do we get into his mind and see the relationships he has with the people he cares about without flashbacks?  He doesn’t have a phone or any other outlet into the outside world.  We need to see who he misses and what he regrets.  That’s the spine of the movie buried deep within one of the most courageous stories you’ll ever see.

He only has a camera to speak into and that can lead to a lot of clumsy exposition that borders on boring.  Here James Franco’s character escapes to a happier place and we go with him taking a temporary break from the hellish position he finds himself in.

The strength of this movie was knowing when to cut away from the rocks.  Thanks to those decisions, we get a full sense of what it was like to go through that situation.

I’ve since decided never to go climbing by myself.

Buried

Click here to read my Buried review.

The Editing

Buried vs 127 Hours An Editor's Perspective | Movie Blog

Here director/editor Rodrigo Cortez takes an entirely different approach by staying put inside a box.  Buried is by far one of the most original movies I’ve seen in a while.

When it comes to editing, it’s an entirely different style all together when compared to 127 Hours.  Having limitless options and skillfully selecting the best way to tell the story is difficult but doing so much with so little options can be just as challenging.

It makes your editing decisions harder when you are faced with one man, a cell phone and a wooden box.  To his credit, I thought the director did an amazing job keeping the shots fresh and varied. In this case, Buried was about piecing together all the carefully orchestrated moments and shots.  Without having so many options, you have to truly break the story down to it’s simplest form and make sure your editing elevates an already brilliant performance by Ryan Reynolds.

The one advantage Buried has is the cell phone.  This is how they managed to eliminate the flashbacks while still giving us more information about the character.  This story HAS to take place in the box.  That’s why it’s such a chilling and haunting tale.  I think the editing in Buried was more about precise execution rather than creative exploration and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Like I said, different styles.  Different possibilities.

The Story

I was absolutely fascinated by Buried.  It’s such an amazing and creative use of a wooden box and a single character. I still think it should have been at least in the running for an Oscar nod this year.

What struck me about the film was the message it conveyed about the politics surrounding Iraq, hostage situations and government policies.  The final 10 minutes or so are powerful to say the least and I found myself leaning forward wondering how it will end.

I wasn’t disappointed at all.  Buried’s ending made a statement that has stayed with me ever since.  A simple story done right can lead to some fantastic and thought provoking moments. Buried was full of them.

I’ve since decided never to drive trucks in Iraq.

127 Hours vs Buried

The Editing

Winner: 127 Hours

The Story

Winner: Buried

The Verdict

Overall, both movies didn’t disappoint.  They each have their own unique styles and executed them perfectly.  Both have phenomenal stories and performances but at the end of the day, I think I enjoyed Buried more.  I think of it this way:

I love both movies but some day, both films will be a part of my collection.  Chances are I’ll watch Buried first.

Special thanks to reader Nastee for inspiring this post.


Why BURIED Delivered On It’s Haunting Premise

March 1, 2011 at 10:25 am

MOVIE REVIEW: BURIED Under Blankets Watching A Great Movie

THE BEAUTY OF SINGLE LOCATION MOVIES

For weeks, it seemed everyone was asking me if I had seen Buried yet.  It was definitely next on my list of must see movies and I’m so happy I finally got a chance to see it.  It was fantastic.

Movies with one location and one character are all concerned with the same issue.  Can you sustain people’s interest for long periods of time and avoid boring the crap out of them?  It’s difficult when you are dealing with a specific set of rules that the location provides.  In this case, a coffin is all the filmmakers had to play with and they did an incredible job.

Buried not only succeeds in holding your interest, it takes a hold and doesn’t let go. From the horrifying premise established in the opening seconds to the incredible final moments, I was completely hooked.

MOVIE REVIEW: Keep It Simple.  BURIED Was Awesome | Review Buried Ryan Reynolds

I’m actually a little disappointed that the script wasn’t mentioned much in the race for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar.  I honestly think if the top 5 are nominees then Buried would surely be number 6 or 7.  It’s not easy to tell a compelling story when you are so confined to a strict location.  In this case, screenwriter Chris Sparling does a fantastic job creating tension using nothing but a cell phone.

XTRA: Even Mr. Sparling lobbied for the Oscar.

Not since Kill Bill Volume Two and The Descent, have a felt so claustrophobic while watching a movie.  This may have been the worst.  I wish I could talk more about the intense ending without giving too much away but I refuse to ruin movies for anyone.  Lets just say it was a perfect way to end the movie without selling out by breaking it’s own rules. At the same time, the film manages to incorporate some pretty strong opinions on the politics surrounding Iraq, the media and corporate policies.

Buried is more than just a movie about a guy in a coffin.

It’s a commentary on the weight of today’s politics versus a single human life. One man vs The Big(ger) Picture.  It’s a profound way to add depth to a premise that definitely needed as many story threads as possible.

There are so many elements of this movie that I loved.  I loved Ryan Reynolds’ chilling performance.  I loved the direction of Rodrigo Cortez.  I love all the ways they lit and shot the movie.  I loved the editing.

A while back, I wrote a review for Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours and a mentioned how much the film inspired me as a professional editor.  Reader Nastee commented on the merits of Buried.

“I think Buried was a MUCH better movie than 127 hours, because it was kept simple. It’s a much bigger achievement to make an exciting movie with just the guy in his box.”

Nastee brought up an interesting point.  Each filmmaker takes the ‘one character/one location’ premise in completely different directions.

Which one is better?  It depends on the types of movies you like.  However, I’m now on the record of loving them both.  Stay tuned to find out who wins.

Regardless, Buried is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while.  I loved it.  Well worth a rent!

XTRA: I think I may have to update this list again…  10 Flicks: Character Driven Movies