Sunday, June 26, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
I have an old beaten-up copy of a Green Lantern comic from my childhood featuring a letter column in which a reader fantasised about what it would be like to see a Green Lantern movie in theatres; to see the green constructs of the ring-slinger's will power brought to life on the big screen, to hear the lantern's sacred oath spoken in surround sound, "wouldn't that be something?", he wondered.
Almost 20 years later, I was thinking much the same thing at last weekend's movie premiere. Talking with fellow GL comics fans, artist Michel Mulipola and TV personality Colin Mathura-Jeffree, we couldn't help but pinch ourselves: are we really about to see a movie starring Green Lantern?
Much like Marvel's Ironman, Green Lantern has always been considered a second-tier comics character without the brand recognition of Batman or Superman. But never the less, he's had a loyal fan-base since his re-introduction in Showcase Presents #22 from 1959 (an earlier namesake of the character existed in the 1940s). Re-imagined as the first human recruit in an intergalactic police force by writer John Broome, test pilot Hal Jordan was an immediate hit with fans. It didn't hurt that his adventures were drawn with dynamic action by the legendary artist Gil Kane, who fashioned one of comics' most iconic costume designs for the character, one which is still used in comics today and the basis for the film design.
Bringing a sci-fi comics character like Green Lantern to the silver screen is no easy task, one that was entrusted to kiwi director Martin Campbell. Known more for his gritty hands-on action films like Casino Royale, Edge of Darkness and The Mask of Zorro, Campbell certainly had his work cut out for him here; juggling an origin story, explaining the mythology of the Green Lantern Corp, and still trying to find time for humour and romance, while processing all of this in 3D. He may have bitten off more than he can chew, but for the most part he gets it right.
The movie opens with the introduction of the fear-infused entity Parallax, whose appetite for fear and destruction sets events in motion, as he escapes from his imprisonment in a distant sector of space, fatally injuring Green Lantern Abin Sur (an unrecognisable Tem Morrison) in the process. Making a bee-line for earth, Sur's power ring is seeking a worthy replacement, which it finds in the unlikely form of impulsive hot-shot pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds).
This opportunity to get waaay out of dodge comes at the right time for a restless Jordan, facing disciplinary action for his cocky pilot antics and generally written-off off by everyone bar his ex-girlfriend/boss Carol Farris (Blake Lively) and tech supporter Thomas (Taika Waititi). Once in possession of the ring, he's soon whisked away to the planet Oa, the home of the Green Lantern Corp, for alien boot-camp 101 with instructors Sinestro (a suitable arrogant Mark Strong), Tomar-Re (voiced by Geoffrey Rush) and Kilowog (voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan), and as much plot exposition as he can handle.
Meanwhile back on earth, nerdy scientist Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) is brought in by the government to study the remains of Abin Sur. The autopsy results in a different gift for Hammond: an infection of Parallax's yellow energy, which grants him with telepathic powers and an unsightly enlarged forehead. With their new found powers, Jordan and Hammond are soon on a collision course which inevitably leads to a final showdown with Parallax making a pit-stop to snack on Earth before his final destination, Oa.
As a film, Green Lantern visually stands apart from the crowd with it's unique look and eye-popping visuals, thanks in large part to a couple of Oscar winning kiwis: production designer Grant Major and costume designer Ngila Dickson.
Major's conception of Oa is a joy to behold and sets a new bar for digital environments; it's believably alien, with realistic textures and lighting effects that are only enhanced by the 3D processing. Dickson's decision to go with all CG costumes for the Green Lantern actors is probably the film's biggest gamble, and it pays off. As pure energy constructs themselves, the costumes neatly reinforce the story while making the human actors seamlessly blend in with the legion of CG created creatures. The fact this separation doesn't occur to you immediately only signals just how much of an achievement this really is. It's a true credit to both of them that this film is at it's best during it's cosmic sequences.
The film soars in outer-space, it's only when it comes back down to earth that it looses it's momentum on several fronts.
A back-story tying Hal, Hector and Carrol together as old friends is alluded to, but is frustratingly underplayed (maybe even cut for pace?), which would have helped give crucial scenes the emotional weight they desperately need. This becomes even more of an issue when the central theme should be 'strength of will can overcome fear'; and apart from a late rally from Reynolds, few of the other characters get the chance to show much of an emotional response at all. The humour and romance is wedged in between all these other moving parts, and comes across as a bit forced. Thankfully Reynolds' natural star-power and easy-going delivery sells the humour, and if he had more than a handful of scenes with Lively perhaps the romance would have felt more natural too (although female viewers may disagree, as apparently a little Reynolds goes a long way!). Drawbacks in the scripting aside, Chambell along with team of effects expects, still manages to elevate this material and give it the grand space opera treatment it deserves.
As is customary with comic films these days, there's a fun after credits teaser; although DC should take note: a teaser scene shouldn't be a plot point that appears to be forgotten from the main feature, as it looks more like a plot-hole and less like a extra treat.
Overall, Green Lantern is a promising addition to Warner Bros/DC Comics franchise of comic-based movies, and will hopefully get a the chance to fly again in a sequel free of it's origin story restraints. Best of all, it's easily the most accomplished 3D film to come along since Avatar, which along makes it well worth the ride across the universe.
Friday, June 10, 2011
The second issue from the Dunedin Comics Collective is out now, with a fantastic line-up on comics and tunes!
The comics section contains contributions from: Mat Tait, Robert Scott, Barry Linton, Tim Cornelius, Tokerau Wilson, Ary Jenson, Tom Garden, Garry McLachlan, Chris Stapp, Don Ferns, Scott Savage, Stu Medley, Corn Stone, Dylan Horrocks, Dan Brader & Yi Lang Chen, Alex Gilks, Spencer Hall, Ben Carroll, Roger Langridge, Sam Orchard, Glen Ross, Maria Brett, Barry Linton, Chris Stapp, and 'A History of Dunedin Comics' by Wellington comics historian Tim Bollinger.
The tunes section features songs from: Psychic Maps, Opposite Sex, Sonic Smith, Swampy, Left Or Right, Silo, Thundercub, Mr. Biscuits, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Robert Scott, John White, The Dark Beaks, Shakes and the Swell Guys, Brown, The Communist Rainbow Relationship, The Doyleys, Onesie, The Old Psychiatrists Club, Physicks, Idiot Prayer, TFF, Sewage, Crude, Bl
DUD#2 is $20NZ and can be ordered online HERE or you can look for it at these select comic stores around the country: Heroes 4 Sale & Gotham Comics (Auckland), Mark One Comics (Hamilton), Graphic (Wellington) and Comics Compulsion (Christchurch).
If you're an aspiring cartoonist and would like to feature in a future issue (issue #3 is coming together as we speak), check out the Dunedin Comic Collective Blog HERE to find out how you can be involved!
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Friday, June 3, 2011
The details are finally out on Roger Langridge's new comics series Snarked!, to be published in October from KABOOM, the new kids comics imprint from BOOM Studios. Here's the official press release with the details:
June 2, 2011 – Los Angeles, CA – This August, KABOOM! and Roger Langridge want to give you a taste of the all-new All-Ages ongoing series SNARKED with the $1US SNARKED #0 prelude leading into this October’s exciting SNARKED #1! Written and drawn by Roger Langridge, the artistic mastermind behind the fan-favorite MUPPET SHOW COMIC BOOK and THOR: THE MIGHTY AVENGER, SNARKED is a bold re-imagining of Lewis Caroll’s topsy-turvy world! Also shipping this August, for the adult fans of Roger’s work, an all-new trade paperback featuring Langridge’s previously uncollected alt-comix material THE SHOW MUST GO ON, making August a month of Roger Langridge goodness you won’t want to miss!
“Very few cartoonists can combine all-ages fun with exciting adventure, but Roger Langridge pulls it off and makes it look easy!” says BOOM! Studios Editor-in-Chief Matt Gagnon. “Roger’s masterful art along with with his impeccable comedic timing and knack for storytelling will make SNARKED a new classic for comics and literature fans alike.”
“Roger Langridge has another hit on his hands with SNARKED!” says BOOM! Studios Marketing Director Chip Mosher. “Equal parts wonder, action, and hilarity, Roger Langridge has created a stunning world perfect for young and old readers alike! Fans of fantastic tales only have great things to look forward to in ROGER LANGRIDGE’S SNARKED!”
ROGER LANGRIDGE’S SNARKED #0 brings Lewis Carroll’s imaginative world to new heights in a side-splitting adventure that can only be explained as… SNARKED! Presenting a fresh and incredibly modern “Langridge” spin on an already-warped classic, the SNARKED adventure starts here with a self-contained 8-page story featuring The Walrus and The Carpenter from THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS – that’s right, the same Walrus that inspired the Beatles song “I Am the Walrus” is now in Roger Langridge’s merry, mad hands for new all-ages adventures at KABOOM! This $1 all-new original 8-page complete story also contains a full issue’s worth of back matter and dives deep into the world of SNARKED with an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the new series. Don’t miss this comic book industry event! Buy the $1US issue now, pick up the series in October!
THE SHOW MUST GO ON TPB is a volume of previously uncollected cartoon strips written and drawn by Roger Langridge. This title, published under the alt-comix imprint BOOM! Town, is suggested for more mature readers and ships in August with a price point of $14.99US.
What follows is a four page preview of Snarked! #0 to give you a free taste of what's to come:
The welcome announcement of The Show Must Go TPB should be of particular interest to long-time fans of Roger's work. Always a keen contributor to various comics community anthologies and jams, this collection will provide a great showcase for many of these rarely seen gems that Roger has produced over the years.
Above: The cover for The Show Must Go On Trade Paperback by Roger Langridge. Copyright Roger Langridge 2011.
So head down to your nearest comic shop and give Snarked! #0 a try in August for the special price of only $1US dollar! The Show Must Go will also be available that month for $14.99US. With the NZ dollar hitting record highs at the moment, you should be able to pick up these books for a song! (which in this case, it's likely to be "I am the Walrus";)
-AK! Coo Coo Ka-choo!