Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Green Lantern Movie Review

As much as I love a good Superhero movie (I haven’t found one yet I would walk out of the theater on) there certainly are a lot of them to compare to this year.  As movie ticket prices continue to climb with each new improvement movie theaters are installing to keep moviegoers coming I must say something must give.  Many families cannot afford to go to every movie that releases let alone every one they would like to see and that creates more competition for these blockbusters.  The worst thing for a movie now is a critic’s review before the movie releases in the theater and this movie had its bad rap so much so Warner Bros. invested an extra million on the special effects to make Green Lantern’s suit better looking.  Not only that but the advertising budget was small in comparison to other big superhero movies and the combination did not fare well.  With that said, I came into the theater expecting to see something much more dismal than what appeared.

Don’t get me wrong though; the show definitely had its problems.  I read a reviewer’s opinion that said (paraphrased) just like G.I. Joe was a fun movie Green Lantern was just as fun.  I think with any superhero film there are two ways to approach them: one way is a serious look at the character’s struggle and present a realistic look at being a superhero and the other is a light hearted action packed fight against good and evil.  I think the writers tried to do both here and neither was done very well.  The romance between Carol and Hal was dismal and Hal’s transformation from good to better was not very enigmatic.  I found the light hearted way in which Hal delivers his old one-two to the bad guys to be silly and unimaginative.  I would have preferred him being portrayed as more clever than childish with his imagination.  

My favorite parts of the movie were when Peter Sarsgaard was on screen because he did a brilliant job with Hector Hammond.  I was horrifically disappointed in Tim Robbnis which luckily Mark Strong made up for with his complex portrayal of Thaal Sinestro.  I love how he was so cocky and strong headed.  It was so easy to see how he could become the infamous villain Sinestro.  Blake Lively was unforgettable and Angela Bassett seemed ineffectual as Dr. Waller.  Ryan Reynolds was fashionably himself for this role which remarkably fit well in my opinion however many critics site him for playing himself which comes across as unoriginal.   The truth is he has the star power for a successful run and yet fits the character at the same time.

The idea that is presented is that “will” is more powerful than “fear” but the actual way Hal overcomes fear as The Green Lantern is much different than any of his brethren expected.  Now what made up for all of the aforementioned shortcomings is the concept of Green Lantern ultimately representing good being absolute and uncompromising.    I believe in this idea as truth and I serve it as a guiding principle in my life so this made this movie very special to me for that reason.  We all have the power to make decisions and whether they are right or wrong the power is the same.  The Green Lantern harnesses the “willpower” of all beings in the universe.  The one who wears the ring must partner with that will in order to harness its power by making the choice to overcome fear and control one’s impulses to the greater good of all.  Hal didn’t possess a lack of fear the way his predecessors did which is why they questioned him but his DESIRE to do good was why he was chosen.  This is what makes him unique because he would have to examine the difference between his motives, deciding what is selfish or selfless whereas the other Lantern carriers started to take for granted their ability to discern.  This is where pride crept in for the Green Lantern Intergalactic Corps who harnessed the power of the yellow matter which is powered by fear because they discerned the best way to preserve themselves was to fight fear with fear.  There is an unspoken relationship of desire and fear in this movie that makes this subconscious teaching so interesting.  Hal defeats Parallax not because he has no fear but because his desire to believe in good always winning over evil gave him the strength and “will” to sacrifice himself (which was his fear of death) if need be and defeat Parallax.  In the end, the greatest virtue that won out was selflessness; selflessness is a combination of courage, strength and justice.  

There are opportunities for us to examine the difference between selfish and selfless acts everyday and choose between them.  For some the line has moved so much there is no difference, and yet others see the difference but it is less visible every day.  Following uncompromising truth in the midst of opposition requires selflessness to do the right thing regardless of the consequences to ourselves.  I would like to think that I am moving that line closer to truth and righteousness more every day and as I do the right thing because it is the right thing to do becomes more clear and it is easier to choose to do it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger Review

I can’t believe I waited this long to review Captain America: The First Avenger because it came out on Blu-ray a whole two weeks ago!  I still have to rush out to buy my copy but as you can see, I’m not rushing.  It’s not because it wasn’t a good movie, but there are so many coming out at the same time so I will have to rely on Christmas money to catch up.  (Thanks Family!) 

Sure this movie lacks some of the glamour of previous superhero movies like Green Lantern and Thor but it delivers on the superb acting and well written dialogue.  Great attention is paid to stay true to the era this movie takes place and it is very realistic (in the American front) with how technology is presented.  I remember the scene when Johann Schmidt enters the room in the Nordic village and discovers the Tesseract is a fake.  Hugo Weaving does such a great job of playing a controlled psychopath with rage underlying every gesture and facial expression.  I was less impressed with Chris Evans’ performance considering his 1940’s accent was not consistent and eventually disappeared.  The production value was fine and Haley Atwell was such a powerful presence that would have put any masculine hero to shame.  It is only a shame that her opportunity with Steve Rogers was wasted and a romantic subplot was not explored.  I would have liked to see more drama rather than action to propel this movie, however it would not work to propel us towards the Avengers movie and Captain Americas displacement in the 21st Century.

I don’t feel compelled to give scores for my reviews and I thought about breaking it down into a more technical aspect but that really isn’t the point of this blog.  I want to draw out the aspects that are the most inspiring to me and convey them to you.  I suppose that is one of the reasons I love superhero’s so much is because they inspire and their stories of how they suffered and overcame by either their own struggle (like Batman) or happened by chance to have an amazing second chance to change (like The Green Lantern) we can learn from their mistakes (like Spiderman) or change ourselves with their motto.  That takes me to Captain America: The First Avenger. 

Captain America is an iconic hero in that he is the first American symbol of justice and morality for kids other than the brave troops that lived in their home towns.  I see him as a typical old fashioned guy that doesn’t fit well in this day and age and he even stood out in the 40’s.  He’s the kind of guy that would court a girl and never be alone with her.  He would be a “Walton’s man” and sit on the porch swing of her parents with his arm around her sipping lemonade for a good time.  He hates bullies and loves justice any way it can come.  He is MORE than a great American guy, he is the truest form of a great American hero.  He is selfless like Superman, only he displayed the same courage before he was a hero.  This is the most important premise of this movie, and the message that should come through more brazenly than anything else.  Hero’s aren’t made; they’re home grown out of a will to do what is right.  That desire seems to be inherent more than learned, but imagine what we could do if every person followed them unwaveringly and taught these principles to their children? 

Here are some quotes from the movie that inspired me the most:

Dr. Abraham Erskine: …But, there were other effects. The serum was not ready but more important, the man; the serum amplifies everything that is inside. So, good becomes great; bad becomes worse. This is why you were chosen… because a strong man, who has known power all his life, will lose respect for that power but a weak man knows the value of strength; and knows compassion.  

Peggy Carter: You must have danced? 
Steve Rogers: Well, asking a woman to dance always seems so terrifying and the past few years just didn't seem to matter that much: figured I'd wait. 
Peggy Carter: For what? 
Steve Rogers: Right partner.

I think people shouldn’t appreciate this movie for its impressive special effects or flashy presentation of a superhero world but rather the message of bravery and most of all, compassion (a respect for power and the restraint to use it.)  I doubt that the Avengers movie will have so many important moral implications at the core of its message.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cars 2 Review

I realize that when weighing in on unimportant matters I never seem to agree with anyone, but I couldn’t disagree with nearly everyone’s opinion regarding Cars 2.  I did some research before writing this article to find out what people thought of the movie and soon began a crazed search for someone over 11 who actually liked this movie.  Apparently people think that McQueen is the lovable character in this movie and should have been featured rather than Mater.  I suppose I could be blinded by my ruthless distaste for Owen Wilson or the fact that even in a cartoon he plays the typical self absorbed egomaniac he usually does.  He’s a changed car in this edition though and although he’s a “nice guy” he still makes the same mistakes inadvertently as he did before.  I suppose what I liked most is the James Bond meets Johnny English routine they used in this film and the animation was very impressive as a realistic representation.

Michael Cain plays the other lead in this film who is an ultra-spiffed up spy car that is on a mission to recover information an American agent has possession of about a mysterious mastermind.  In an equally compelling plot McQueen is challenged to a race by Luigi; a new fast race car from Italy.  The story eventually ends up being about Mater who is mistaken as a spy and silly misunderstandings become the comedy of the rest of this movie.  If you like spoofy, goofy, silly movies then this one is sure to hit home. 

My favorite theme to this movie is that it teaches how important it is to be who you are and proud of that regardless of the opposition.  I can’t count the number of times I was trying to be serious and people were laughing because they thought I was trying to be funny.  In this movie Mater is perceived to be a genius because the other spies think he is a master at pretending to be stupid in order to fool the counter spies.  He is very discouraged about not being taken seriously as a person and discarded so easily by his friend Lightning McQueen.  Many of us have faced challenges from others who don’t take us seriously but as Mater was given such good advice we too should adhere to this motto:  “If people don’t take you seriously; they need to change, not you.”  There are many people who faced rejection and adversity that went on to be great characters in history.  I’m sure you have heard the inspiring stories about people like Martin Luther, Thomas Edison and Rosa Parks.  You could be the one marching to a different tune that turns the world upside down and helps the world see things a little differently.  I say the old adage “dare to be different” is still a good one and the movie Cars 2 supports that belief.