In Theaters Now!
Guardians of the universe rejoice; the on-again, off-again Green Lantern flick that has been talked about is now a summer blockbuster movie. We finally found time this past Fourth of July weekend to take in one of the most anticipated super-hero flicks of the summer. Would this DC Comics offering deliver the goods? Would our cherished childhood memories of the emerald crusader be rendered intact? Let’s just say that if you’re a fan of the Silver Age Green Lantern mythos, you won’t be disappointed. (Yes, we’re old enough to remember the Golden Age Green Lantern, whose ring didn’t work on wood… kinda dates us, I know!) Any first superhero pic has to devote a copious amount of storyline to what’s known as the “origin tale” and Green Lantern is no different, both for how test pilot Hal Jordan came into possession of the power ring and the story behind the Guardians of Oa and the Green Lantern corps. This is one we’re sorta glad they didn’t make until CGI effects caught up to the point where the mind-bending story could be properly illustrated. Scenes on Oa look like Hogwarts as portrayed by Salvador Dali, and the aliens, well, look like aliens, another hallmark of the Green Lantern mythos. The primary badie is the galaxy-eating Parallax, a villain reminiscent of the Suneater from the Legion of Superheroes lore who is channeled through Hector Hammond, one of the Green Lantern’s more memorable foes. We also get to see Sinestro in his Green Lantern Corps days (fans know where this eventually leads) and Hal Jordan love interest Carol Ferris is given call sign Sapphire, an allusion to her role as the eventual super-villainess Star Sapphire in any planned for sequel.
And the astronomy? Well, there are plenty of mind-bending intergalactic scenes, as any good Green Lantern tale spans the universe in both time and space… one of the better points is actually raised by the evil-to-be professor Hector Hammond, who notes that discovery of a humanoid looking alien may indicate that galactic panspermia is afoot. I’m almost able to overlook the depiction of a densely strewn asteroid field during one of the fight scenes with Parallax, as this gaffe has been depicted in every flick from The Empire Strikes Back to the Battlestar Galactica series re-imagined to even the other-wise out-standing Contact. Folks just expect a densely packed asteroid belt…
1st appearance of the Silver Age Green Lantern… (Credit DC Comics).
Perhaps the biggest thing that always bothered me about the Green Lantern tale has to do with how sectors are assigned… Oa is said to sit at the center of the universe, and each Green Lantern is to patrol 1/10th of a degree of space, hence 360 x10=3600 members of the Green Lantern Corps… still, A) 1/3600th of the universe would still task you with millions of galaxies, and B) There is no proper physical center to our universe; all points are expanding away from each other, irrespective of location… as strange as it may sound, the Big Bang happened… everywhere!
Still, the movie stays pretty true to the tale, and long time Green Lantern fans will not be disappointed. The traditional weakness of yellow is played down a bit, mentioned only as “forbidden yellow energy” an alteration perhaps wisely adopted by the screen writers, as c’mon, a personal kryptonite of “yellow” does sound kinda lame… Also, although the Oath of the Green Lantern is rendered intact, the movie depicts it as a one-oath-fits-all sort of deal, whereas the traditional Green Lanterns constructed their own custom oaths to tell of their exploits, sort of a “Halls of Montezuma” kinda thing (click here for a WAY too exhaustive list of alternate/alien Green Lantern oaths!) I think the director missed a chance here to weave in a wonderful bit of the traditional origin tale…
This summer, do make an effort to see the Green Lantern make his debut on the big screen… as the DC and Marvel Pantheons get mined out, can a Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, or even a Justice League movie be far behind? And how about, dare we throw it out into the universe, a live action Legion of Superheroes movie? Hey, its gotta be better than the terrible old Justice League TV Special from the 70’s, to my knowledge the first live action depiction of the Green Lantern (click if you dare!)
So there you have it, a superhero for the masses… we also have Cowboys and Aliens on our must-see and review radar for the final week of July. Next week, its back to the science, as cosmologist Roger Penrose explains to us just how those Guardians of Oa battle entropy and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics with Cycles of Time!