Today you are going to get two reviews for the price of one! Yesterday I saw both Green Lantern (in 3D) and X-Men: First Class. I’m going to use them to talk about a bigger issue: how comic book movies go over with non-fans.
Most of my friends, girlfriends, relatives do not follow comics. They want to see a good movie, in these cases a good action and adventure movie, and don’t care where it came from: a comic, a novel or a video game. They want to be entertained and will not look for or notice some of the details we might seek out. Let’s assume that they like fantasy because they would consider going to these movies, but not just because it is based on a comic. Especially ones they haven’t heard of.
The second group is the comic book followers. I even break them down into two groups: The Literal Viewer and the, “I know it’s a movie, not a comic book viewer.”
The Literal viewer, frankly, wants to see every element of the comic exactly portrayed on the screen and they look for those details. If it not there, they hate the movie. It’s not just comic book fans, it’s Harry Potter Fans, James Bond Fans, Lord of the Rings fans and even now Star War fans. There is no consideration for running time, expense, clarity or anything else. Many of these people loved the overlong and dated Watchmen because it was as exact to the novel as possible. But the general audiences stayed away in droves. It simply was not a good movie.
For me, I accept the fact that a movie is a separate entity, it must be complete, and tell ONE complete and compelling story. When a see a movie based on a comic or novel I know and like, I hope they keep the essence and tell a good story.
So the Comic Book movies I really liked include: Spider-Man II, Superman I and II (The Special Donner Edition); Iron Man, the first Keaton Batman and Batman Begins.
The ones I like are: Daredevil, Spider-Man (I); Dark Knight; Iron Man II, X-Men I, II, III. Maybe Fantastic Four 1 and 2.
The ones I disliked are: The Spirit, Catwoman, Elektra, Superman 3, 4, and Superman Returns, and the last two Batman from the 1990s.
So let me tell you about Green Lantern.
First, I kind of liked it, but would never, ever recommend it to the non comic book viewing public. While it is the first movie I have seen in 3D that actually adds to the visuals, the story and the dialogue are just disappointing.
This was to be DC’s Iron Man, a second rate character, not universally known like Spider-Man or Superman, that would test the waters for DC. I suspect if this was a hit, they were hoping for a movie with the Flash and the Justice League.
Instead of casting Hal Jordan, they cast Tony Stark. From his beginning, Jordan was a courageous, brave character, dedicated to his country, his company and his girlfriend. Tony Stark was originally an irresponsible playboy. That is what they made Jordan. So when the ring chooses him, you wonder why. Ryan Reynolds could have been well suited in this role, if it played to his strengths in terms of humor and humanity. It doesn’t.
Even with its music cues, GL borrows from other movies including Superman and Star Wars. He becomes Luke Skywalker when learning to use his powers. There is nothing different about his getting his powers. They we go through the comic scenes of him learning to use them. Of course, he must defeat an earthbound villain, Hector Hammond, and then the movie becomes the Silver Surfer versus Galactus. Actually, it is a villain called Parallax, who wants to destroy the Galaxy and Oa. Oh yes, he stops by Earth on his way to do this. The movie tries to be too much and therefore not enough for us to appreciate Ryan.
Carol Ferris in the comic played, originally two roles, that as owner of Ferris aircraft and that of girlfriend. In the movie she must also be the daughter, Lois Lane (fighting side by side with her man) and a test pilot. That’s right, with all this she has time to fly planes. Blake Lively plays Carol, a thankless task. There is, in a sense, with so much for her to do, that there is nothing here to make her excel, but that is true of everyone.
Of course starting with the Spider-Man movies, no one has a mask that will stay on and so many people know their secret identities. Again, this is because in a movie, masks are bad, full faces are good. This will disappoint a few of the purists.
Visually, many of the scenes on OA and in outer space are great, but the Guardians looked phony.
So don’t go on a date and pay full price if your girlfriend doesn’t know who the Star Sapphire is. See it at a cheap matinée with your friends who remember, “The Brightest Day.”
We then saw X-Men: First Class. A better movie.
X-Men: First Class gives us a completely new cast and a new point of view on the X-Men. It starts, as the first X-Men movie did, with Magneto watching his parents be put into a concentration camp.
Here time is a fantasy, where much of the action takes place during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but the characters we know from the X-Men comics, even a few from the movies, are chronologically out of place.
The story revolves around Kevin Bacon trying to recruit mutants (the bad ones) and then trying to start a nuclear war. At first, Professor X and Magneto (they get their names in this movie) try to recruit the good mutants to help mankind, even though mankind winds up being their enemy. Comic book fans will enjoy seeing version of Havoc, Emma Frost, Hank McCoy and several others.
James McAvoy plays Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender play Magneto. They do a great job because they do not try to imitate the great actors before them. They both bring nuances their roles, ones that I haven’t seen. It was fun to watch Prof. X try to pick up a girl and see the anger that never left Magneto.
Much of this story does not line up with the comics I knew for the 1960s. Here, Prof X is raised with Rogue as his sister, yet she tried to kill him in the X-Men movies. There is no Cain Marko who was his brother.
The movie’ finale tries to put all the pieces together and does so. I must admit though, that I do not understand why certain characters become so evil, oh well.
Yep, if your girlfriend liked the other X-Men movies you can certainly take her to see this one. Even on a Friday night. By the way, there were more people in the X-Men movie during its third week than in the Green Lantern theater in its first.