REVIEW: GREEN LANTERN (2011)

 

CAST
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Blake Lively (The Town)
Peter Sarsgaard (Orphan)
Mark Strong (Grimsby)
Jay O. Saunders (JFK)
Tim Robbins (Antitrust)
Taika Waititi (Eagle vs Shark)
Angela Bassett (This Means War)
Temuera Morrison (Spartacus: Gods of The Arena)
Jon Tenney (The Phantom)
Geoffrey Rush (Mystery Men)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
Salome Jens (Star Trek: DS9)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Billions of years ago, beings called the Guardians of the Universe used the green essence of willpower to create an intergalactic police force called the Green Lantern Corps. They divided the universe into 3600 sectors, with one Green Lantern per sector. One such Green Lantern, Abin Sur of Sector 2814, defeated the malevolent being Parallax and imprisoned him in the Lost Sector on the desolate planet Ryut. In the present day, Parallax escapes from his prison after becoming strengthened by an encounter with crash survivors on the planet, feeding off of their fear to gain strength before pursuing and nearly killing Abin Sur, who escapes and crash-lands on Earth where he commands his ring to find a worthy successor.
Hal Jordan, a cocky test pilot working at Ferris Aircraft, is chosen by the ring and transported to the crash site, where the dying Abin Sur appoints him a Green Lantern, telling him to take the lantern and speak the oath. At home he says the oath and is later whisked away to the Green Lantern Corps home planet of Oa, where he meets and trains with veteran Corps members Tomar-Re and Kilowog and Corps leader Sinestro, who believes he is unfit and fearful. Jordan quits and returns to Earth, keeping the power ring and lantern.
Meanwhile, scientist Hector Hammond is summoned by his father, Senator Robert Hammond, to a secret government facility to perform an autopsy on Abin Sur’s body. A piece of Parallax inside the corpse enters Hammond, giving him telepathic and telekinetic powers, at the cost of his sanity. After discovering that he was chosen for the secret work only due to his father’s influence, Hammond attempts to kill his father by telekinetically sabotaging his helicopter at a party. Jordan saves the senator and the party guests, including his childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris. Later, Hammond successfully kills his father by burning him alive, and Jordan learns of Parallax coming to Earth.
Back on Oa, the Guardians tell Sinestro that Parallax was once one of their own until he desired to control the yellow essence of fear, only to become the embodiment of fear itself. Arguing that the way to fight fear is by fear itself, Sinestro requests that the Guardians forge a ring of the same yellow power, preparing to concede Earth’s destruction to Parallax in order to protect Oa. Jordan appears and tries to convince the Guardians that fear will turn the users evil if its power is used, but they reject his pleas, and he returns to Earth to try to defeat Parallax alone feeling defeated.
Upon returning to Earth as the Lantern, Jordan saves Ferris from Hammond after a brief showdown with him. Parallax arrives, consumes Hammond’s life force, killing him and then wreaks havoc on Coast City. After a fierce battle, with new-found strength, Jordan lures Parallax away from Earth and toward the Sun, destroying and killing Parallax. He loses consciousness after the battle and falls toward the sun, but is saved by Sinestro, Kilowog, and Tomar-Re. Later, the entire Green Lantern Corps congratulates him for his bravery. Sinestro tells Jordan he now bears the responsibility of protecting his sector as a Green Lantern.
In a mid-credits scene, Sinestro steals the yellow ring and places it on his finger, causing his green suit and eyes to change to yellow.
Some people who hate on this film obviously couldn’t suspend their disbelief long enough to enjoy it. It’s not the greatest DC film, but the outer space sequences were really cool, especially in 3D, and Ryan Reynolds’ suit effects were cool. The final battle may have been weak, but I’m sure they were hoping to set up sequels with larger battles.
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REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE DOOM

CAST (VOICES)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Tim Daly (Superman: TAS)
Susan Eisenber (Justice League)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville)
Bumper Robinson (Marvel’s Avengers Assemble)
Carlos Alazraqui (Happy Feet)
Claudia Black (The Originals)
Paul Blackthorne (Arrow)
Olivia D’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Alexis Denisof (Angel)
Phil Morris (Bottoms Up)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Grey Griffin (Justice League: Cosmic Clash)
Robin Atins Downes (Babylon 5)
Juliet Landau (Buffy)

Assembled by Vandal Savage, the elite members of the Legion of Doom—Bane, Cheetah, Mirror Master, Star Sapphire, Ma’alefa’ak and Metallo—are shown how to beat each and every member of the Justice League of America. Using the specific weaknesses of each hero, the Legion heads out to destroy their counterparts and bring them to their knees so Vandal Savage could implement the next phase of his plan: annihilating the majority of the human race so he can bring about a new world order from its ashes. To make things worse, Vandal Savage didn’t discover how to destroy the Justice League on his own, and when the answer as to who was responsible is revealed, the JLA is rocked to its core with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

Man, I love this movie. It features an all-star cast of all-star superheroes going up against an all-star roster of evil supervillains. Finally, we get to see the villains stick it to the heroes in a big way and not let up until the JLA is down. And I mean really down. It’s not often you see Superman on the brink of death, Batman humiliated and defeated, Flash completely screwed, Green Lantern a broken man, Martian Manhunter totally incapacitated, and Wonder Woman so messed up she doesn’t know what to do or which way to turn.

This flick is based on the “Tower of Babel” Justice League story arc by Mark Waid, who is arguably one of the best comic book writers on the planet. I can’t comment on this flick’s faithfulness to that storyline because it’s been over ten years since I last read it, but I do remember the overall premise and this movie delivered on that.

The heroes and villains look great in this movie, and it does well in showcasing their various powers and abilities. It’s also an exciting movie that is fast-paced, has a sense of atmosphere, a sense of taking place in the overall DC Universe—thanks to other heroes and villains not mentioned above showing up—and gives the JLA a threat that even they might not be able to handle. And that’s the thing with a JLA movie: the threat needs to be so huge and so dangerous that it takes them as a team to solve the issue, and considering each one of them is extremely powerful in their own right, that threat needs to be mega huge, not just physically but psychologically as well. Justice League: Doom has that and delivers it in spades. Also features the voice talent from the Justice League animated series so that totally adds to it as well, giving it a sense of familiarity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT

CAST (VOICES)

Christopher Meloni (Man of Steel)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)
Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)
Michael Madsen (Species)
John Larroquette (The Batman)
Kurtwood Smith (Agent Carter)
Larry Drake (Darkman)
William Schallert (Santa Barbara_
Malachi Throne (Catch Me If You Can)
Olivia D’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Juliet Landau (Angel)

Before any other sentient beings existed in the universe, a race of beings calling themselves the Guardians of the Universe harnessed the power of the green element, the greatest power in the universe, to create the Green Lantern battery. However, the battery was vulnerable to the color yellow, the one part of the light spectrum that could resist green. The Guardians hid the most concentrated source of yellow energy, the yellow element, to prevent others from using it against them.

After the death of Abin Sur, several Green Lanterns arrive to take Ferris Aircraft’s test pilot Hal Jordan (Christopher Meloni) to the Green Lantern Corps on Oa. He is placed under the supervision of respected senior officer Sinestro (Victor Garber), who is investigating Abin’s murder. While undercover on the ship of Kanjar Ro (Kurtwood Smith) searching for the whereabouts of the stolen yellow element, Abin had come under attack. Fleeing to Earth, he had his ring find his successor and died of his injury shortly after. Unbeknownst to the other Green Lanterns, Sinestro had provided Kanjar with the location of the element in order to have it fashioned into a weapon of comparable power to the Green Lantern battery.

Jordan quickly comes to understand that Sinestro’s beliefs are not in line with those of the Guardians: Sinestro believes that the Guardians have reduced the Corps to merely picking up the messes criminals create as opposed to proactively dealing with the problem. During a mission to capture Kanjar Ro, Jordan is knocked unconscious by Kanjar’s energy staff. Sinestro comes in and kills Kanjar, pinning the blame on Jordan. As punishment, the Guardians strip Jordan of his ring.  While Jordan waits to be taken home, Sinestro uses his ring to temporarily animate Kanjar’s corpse, allowing him to learn the location of Qward where the yellow element weapon is being fashioned. Jordan convinces fellow Lanterns Boodikka (Tricia Helfer) and Kilowog (Michael Madsen) that Sinestro is not what he seems. When they catch Sinestro red-handed, Boodikka reveals her true allegiance and incapacitates Kilowog, allowing Sinestro to escape. Jordan tricks her into destroying Kanjar’s unstable energy staff, the explosion launching her into the tools hanging from the ceiling and killing her.

On Qward, the Weaponers bestow Sinestro with the yellow ring and battery, the latter of which resembles Ranx the Sentient City. Using its power, he lays waste to Oa, the yellow light easily overpowering the Green Lantern rings. The yellow battery destroys the green battery, rendering all the Green Lantern Corps’ power rings inert and causing death by asphyxiation of countless Green Lanterns who were in space at the time of their rings’ failure. Jordan, having recovered his ring moments too late, finds the battery and pounds on the inert green element. He places his ring on the small crack that appears, absorbing the whole of its power. Imbued with the full might of the green energy, he destroys the yellow battery by crushing it between two moons.

Having exhausted most of the green power to destroy the yellow battery, Jordan is left to fight against Sinestro under his own power. After an intense hand-to-hand battle without constructs, Jordan uses the last of his power to knock Sinestro to the surface of Oa where Kilowog crushes the yellow ring (as well as Sinestro’s hand) with his foot. Having regained partial power to his ring earlier, Kilowog takes to the air and saves Jordan from a fatal fall to the planet’s surface. Once Oa is rebuilt and the Green Lantern battery restored, the Guardians give the privilege of leading the Corps in reciting the Green Lantern oath to Jordan. Jordan then leaves for Earth to check in with his other boss, Carol Ferris (Olivia d’Abo), remarking on the long “commute”.The animation is excelent  Some things are computer generated and they do stand. The action scenes do look very good, especially with all the various ring generated colour auras flying around the screen. And some of them are quite pacy and exciting. All of it builds to an epic and involving big action finale.

REVIEW: JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER

CAST
David Boreanaz (Angel)
Miguel Ferrer (Robocop)
Neil Patrick Harris (The Smurfs)
John Heard (Home Alone)
Lucy Lawless (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Kyle MacLachlan (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Lex Lang (Constantine TV)
Phil Morris (Smallville)
Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer)
Brooke Shields (The Blue Lagoon)
Jeremy Sisto (Wrong turn)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Joe Mantegna (The Simpsons)
Alan Ritchson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014)

Darwyn Cooke entered the comic book world via an animation career that included a stint on the staff of Batman: The Animated Series. He quickly impressed fans with his clean, classic illustration style, using old ideas as fodder for fresh visions. It’s kind of fitting, then, that things have come full circle, and now his old animation cohorts are adapting one of his comic books into a movie. Justice League: The New Frontier is directed by frequent Cooke collaborator David Bullock, and it is based on the 2004 comic book miniseries The New Frontier. In that drawn adventure novel, the writer/artist used his love of 1950s comics and culture to weave a complex tapestry using a host of genres, characters, and real world political touchstones. It is a gorgeous book, and for the most part, massively entertaining.

A 75-minute film is actually a far more compact means of expression than a sprawling comic book miniseries. Bullock, working with Cooke as a creative consultant, has dropped a lot of the backstory, relegating subplots on Monster Island with the Losers and the original Suicide Squad to quick mentions. This leaves the full running time devoted to the superhero mission and the rise of two new heroes.

Justice League: The New Frontier starts just at the end of the Korean War, putting America in the middle of the space race and the Red Scare. Superheroes have been swept up in the xenophobic hysteria, with the public being convinced that men hiding their identities behind masks are no better than the communists who plan revolutions behind closed doors. Superman (voiced by Kyle MacLachlan) is still functioning above board, having signed a loyalty oath to America. So does Wonder Woman (Lucy Lawless), though she is less enamored with the American Way the more paranoid and oppressive it gets. Other heroes, like Batman (Jeremy Sisto) and the Flash (Neil Patrick Harris), are still serving the public, but they risk arrest with every good deed they do. In the midst of all this fear and loathing, a primordial psychic force that has watched from the shadows as mankind has grown more dangerous and self-destructive over the centuries has begun shoring up its power to put an end to the human scourge. Calling itself “the Center” (as in “of all things”), this creature has become the stuff of cults and legends, controlling the minds of men and monsters alike.

Also coming to the fore at this time are two new super beings, and they are ostensibly the leads of the ensemble cast. Hal Jordan (David Boreanaz) is a veteran and a test pilot who many believe to be a coward due to his refusal to fire his guns in battle. His nobility will eventually lead to him being chosen as the Green Lantern, a cosmic defender assigned to protect Earth. The other hero is J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter (Miguel Ferrer), who through a quirk of science was teleported to and stranded on our planet. He is the most representative of the “other,” the things we fear because they are different. Jordan’s political ideas make him like the communists, whereas J’onzz’ green skin gives the storytellers room to tie his plight into race.

Justice League: The New Frontier is an entertaining animated adventure. Based on a multi-leveled comic book by Darwyn Cooke, it features the greatest heroes of the DC Comics universe banding together in the 1950s to fight a villain who is feeding on the hatred and paranoia of the times to rid the Earth of the human scourge. The movie is more streamlined and has a solid story that fits well into the new Warner Bros. effort to bring slightly more adult cartoons directly to DVD. The animation is mostly clean and dynamic, and as a whole, it’s an impressive two-disc release filled with lots of extras.