Monday, June 27, 2011

Saving Blackhawk Tears of the Private Aliens Independence Down Sun Day Ryan

As TNT has made it impossible for me to catch up on Falling Skies, I felt a need to get my alien fix in this evening. My X-Box is capable of streaming movies, so I decided to check what Zune had to offer.

My movie buddy/brother Tommy and I saw previews last year for Battle: L.A. and were intrigued. It looked like a pretty decent action movie, and Hell, it couldn't be any worse than Skyline. Unfortunately, Tommy got ill, and was in the hospital for a few months, which means we missed our window to see it in theaters (I didn't want to go without him).

Tommy is out now, and I remember him telling me to see it whenever I get the chance and not wait for him, so I did.

The people who derided this movie clearly did not know what type of movie they were going to see. Anyone looking for another Platoon was sorely disappointed. If you went in expecting Ridley Scott's Alien, you left scratching your head. Those anticipating the next Star Wars went back to their basements unfulfilled.

But if you went in knowing this would be a Xenophobic blow 'em up explosion fest could not have gotten a better bang for their buck! This movie was like a mix up of several entertaining movies into one package. There was a little Private Ryan (platoon sent on long shot rescue mission behind enemy lines led by aging veteran who fears his service has taken too great a toll), a little Tears of the Sun (half of the squad gives their lives to save civilian refugees), a little Blackhawk Down (the agonizing horror of trying to travel through a live combat zone), a little Aliens (ragged platoon of hard asses reduced to helpless survivors) and a little Independence Day (aliens invade with superior technology without a peaceful pretense). It had action, explosions, alien ships, street to street combat, heroic sacrifice, character development (although not as much as there could have been).

I thought this movie was very entertaining. It wouldn't win any awards, but if you were expecting it to, you need to rethink your approach to understanding movies. Not every movie needs to be the Godfather.   Sometimes they need to be a fun romp through cinematic chaos, like Battle: L.A. is.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Green Lantern Lights Up The Screen

Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan
This is the movie I have been waiting 30+ years to see. Not to say it was the best movie I have ever seen; it wasn't. But with Green Lantern being my favorite solo comic hero of all time (with Colossus being my favorite team player) I have longed to see him brought to life on the silver screen.

The story was a fairly obvious origin piece. In that comic movies never stick strictly to their source (Sin City excluded) certain elements were changed to make the story appealing to a wider audience. Hector Hammond (Peter Saarsgard) is one of Hal Jordan's earliest villains, if not his first (because would the Puppet Master really have held up in this day and age?) and his origins are tweaked to connect him more directly to the movie's larger antagonist, Parallax (a far more modern addition to the GL mythos).  None of the changes to the details were offensive enough to this aficionado, helping to create a tighter story.

Reynolds does an OK turn as Hal Jordan, cocky womanizing test pilot with a soft spot for his boss, Carol Ferris (Blake Lively). He has the confidence, but to me, Hal has never been the jokester that Reynolds is known to be. After hearing so many rumors of Reynolds playing the Flash (one would assume the Wally West incarnation) and after seeing him play the ultimate loudmouth Deadpool, I was not completely sold on his Hal Jordan. Lively is indeed lively as Carol, going from no nonsense business woman to high flying test pilot to tender love interest with no jarring transition. It will be interesting to see if they follow her transformation into Star Sapphire in any of the subsequent sequels to see how Lively handles becoming a villain. Saarsgard's Hammond is forgettable, and we never quite get the connection between he and Hal other than they are rivals for Carol's affection, apparently.

But the strongest performance is turned in by Mark Strong. His Sinestro is the perfect blend of confidence, leadership, and disdain for weakness that we would have expected. Stick around through the first part of the credits for the (hopeful) promise of a sequel that may surpass it's predecessor.

The CGI was a little bit clunky at times, especially when it had anything to do with flying, specifically landing. But the construct effects were spectacular, with some wide variety shown during Hal's hilariously brief training session. The set pieces were well realized, with some definite nods to the comic sources including the monuments to fallen Lanterns. There are Easter Eggs galore in the gatherings of Lanterns (beyond the obvious Kilowog and Tomar-Re), as I recognized no fewer than a dozen characters; Stel, Salaak, Boodikka, Bzzd, Medphyll, K'ryssma and several others whose names I may have never known.

The movie was a little slow at times, but by and large it delivered an entertaining experience. I am hoping for a sequel, as there were areas that could be improved and openings for some of the more interesting concepts to carry over from the comics (the other Lantern Corps, Manhunters, etc.)

Not the best movie I have ever seen, and not the best Green Lantern movie possible. I was actually more impressed with Green Lantern: First Flight, the animated feature that came out last year. But a somewhat solid offering.

For those wondering: there are no mentions whatsoever (that I could detect) of any other DC Comics property (no mentions of Metropolis, Gotham or Thymescria). So no hints as to the proposed Justice League feature.