Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Green Lantern Trailer #2 Brings Up a Few Points

Here's the newest Green Lantern trailer, which showed at WonderCon this weekend in San Francisco. In my opinion, its a bit of a step up from the last trailer.

In the era of CGI or in the era of matte-FX, big FX movies have had an issue that's hard to overcome: how do you get a trailer out that shows off your movie when your FX aren't done?

Not to mention, what is the appropriate tone to take with your trailer well before the movie has only been shot, but the storytelling that goes on in editing hasn't been done?

I'll say this: the new trailer, whether you like it or not, is a lot closer to what I think of when I think of Green Lantern comics than what I saw in the first trailer. The first trailer felt more like "what would happen if Ryan Reynolds became a super hero?" than "Ryan Reynolds is playing Hal Jordan, who becomes a Green Lantern", going for half the length of the trailer before hinting at anything... interesting. And then was a montage of confusing imagery that wasn't going to mean much except to veteran Lantern fans, and even then... well, it just wasn't anything all that promising.

I'm still not sold on the movie, but at least someone stepped in to cut a trailer that was more "Epic Space Opera" than "Wacky Summer Comedy". And I can only hope the footage is there, along with the script, to bring the best parts of Green Lantern and its 50-year history in comics to the screen, and not let the usual issues with stars, wayward directors, producers with notes, etc... get in the way.

But, man, I don't even know that its worth it anymore to show trailers much more than two or so months before a film's release. I don't recall the last time I heard anything but comic fans and non-comic fans alike finding reasons that a superhero adaptation was going to be awful, and usually for pretty minor reasons. And, as someone who has talked a lot online for years about comics, movies and the place where they meet... I'm as guilty as the next guy.

But I'm not doing it anymore. The patterns are too obvious.

1) The first images of the costume are released, and even if its an exact replica of the comics, the internets light up, mocking the look. The one exception: Iron Man. But when movies or TV make alterations to make the superhero not look like a crazy person, people go crazy. Yes, I'd like to see a Batman more like the comics in the movies, but deep-down, I know that look basically boils down to the Adam West costume. And did you really think Wonder Woman was going to go live-action in 2011, and they weren't going to put pants on her? How many columns would have been written about a pantless WW had the producers gone that route?

Also, you cannot make an 8-foot CGI Hulk and not get "Shrek" comparisons, but... if you want a bulky 8-foot thing that's green, it really doesn't matter what design you go with. Two similarly sized green things are going to get comparisons. We get it.

2) The first trailer is going to have to cut out some key elements of what you, comic nerd, believe is super-important to explaining the character. The problem is - that's usually too much story for a trailer. Most first trailers are there to give you impressions: who is in the movie, is it a superhero movie, is it funny, etc... And, as I mentioned before, if the movie isn't all practical effects, its going to be pretty short on better CGI. It just might not be ready yet.

3) Some really bad movies have awesome trailers. But cool looking scenes don't really indicate a decent movie. I'm the first to say: Sucker Punch had a really slick trailer. Tron Legacy? GREAT trailer and teaser trailer. People get paid a lot of money to make random footage thrown at them look like a good way to spend an evening and $20. These days I wait to see how things are going at and word of mouth.

4) Every idea for a movie sounds stupid or brilliant, especially superhero-type stuff, depending on who is telling you about it. Superhero comics have taught me one thing: there are no bad ideas, only bad execution. So, do not trust snarky online movie-people, and doubly do not trust snarky people in magazines. Today it seems obvious that all the world will love an X-Man, but before Singer's version of X-Men came out? Man, the press was not sure what to do with this whole "X-Men" idea. I think the press has finally realized - people like Singer didn't bring new ideas to X-Men, those ideas were already there. They just understood enough about the idea behind the comics that they could make that idea work.

Guys who dress up as spiders and bats and refuse to use guns while taking on armed criminals is a stupid idea. Except when it isn't.

5) That thing you love about your favorite superhero? Or even that one detail you think is crucial? It may not be in the movie at all. That does not mean, super-fanboy, that the movies is going to be awful.

Anyway, these days I'm trying to give superhero movies a lot more breathing room before I start getting cranked up enough to complain too much. I still remember a world before Sam Raimi got an enormous budget and made a lovely ode to 60's and 70's-era Spider-Man comics into a movie. I saw The Phantom, The Shadow, 1990's Captain America, 1970's Captain America, some TV movie Spider-Man, Batman and Robin, TV-era Hulk (its really pretty bad), 1990's TV The Flash... and many of these I like or own on DVD. But we're spoiled in 2011, forgetting that the idea of spending a ton of money on a Green Lantern movie back in the day would have been unthinkable, let alone recreating a recognizable Oa and its occupants.

That doesn't mean every superhero movie coming out these days is good or worth seeing (I can name two Fantastic Four movies you can do without watching), but... these days I think its a wait-and-see game. Don't judge a movie by the first trailer or your initial reaction to a costume if it doesn't match the, frankly, impossible designs created for 2-d drawings of ridiculously proportioned men and women.

Give it a shot, be patient, and wait for the reviews and definitely wait for at least the second trailer.


Gerry said...

Well said.I think the thing to remember is comic book movies are adaptations. If it was the exact same thing as the comic, there would really be no point. Not to mention the fact that, even in the comics, characters are constantly re-interpreted. So when people say "it's not like in the comics," the question is which comic, by which creator and in what era?

The League said...

Exactly! Anyway, its a funny era to be in, when so many comics and super-hero based movies are hitting the screen that you can actually draw generalizations and see patterns forming with each successive year's worth of superhero movies.

Simon MacDonald said...

I'm willing to give Green Lantern a chance but for my summer movie going $ it is currently sitting third behind:

1) Nazi punching Captain America
2) Natalie Portman staring Thor

I saw Tron: Legacy on the plane coming back from Boston. It looked nice, had a great soundtrack but still kinda sucked.

The League said...

I had to do some apologizing after mobilizing a small group to see Tron: Legacy. It was - not good.

I am deeply skeptical of the director assigned to Captain America, but he could surprise me. Mostly, he makes bland movies that are inoffensive, usually cliche-ridden and largely forgettable. But I love the concept, and it seems like the studio took it very seriously, so...

I have no expectations for Thor one way or another. I also don't know much about the character, so its going to be mostly new to me.

Simon MacDonald said...

Luckily I was able to fast forward through the boring parts of Tron: Legacy on the plane. The whole bit with Flynn senior and his mystical ramblings could easily be skipped. They really needed to do more light cycle racing. I think that was my favourite part in both movies.

I can't see how it would be possible for them to screw up Captain America. A literal underdog who undergoes a radical experiment so he can punch Nazi's. As long as they don't mess with the core of the story they should be okay.

I was a big fan of Walt Simonsons Thor when he was writing and drawing it. Plus I just love mythology. They are going to mess with the mythology a bit and make them space gods but it still could be good.

The League said...

In the past, I've felt Johnston's movies just felt sort of... perfunctory. Like he was going through the motions without any real energy. His more recent efforts include last years' "Wolfman" and the paint by numbers movies of "Hidalgo" and "Jurassic Park III". Really, my favorite of his movies is "The Rocketeer", but that may be because it features a jet pack and Jennifer Connelly.

Simon MacDonald said...

Speaking of Thor here is a good article on how awesome Simonson's Thor was:

Great, now I have to go dig up a copy of the Rocketeer to watch.