Gods and Monsters

Of all the superheroes coming out this spring and summer, the one I’ve been excited about the most is Green Lantern. I don’t generally read reviews, but just before the movie came out, I was seeing advanced word on Twitter that was discouraging me. Green Lantern just wasn’t getting very good advanced reviews or a good rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I went to the theater with lowered expectations and crossed fingers. The fact that I was seeing it in 3-D didn’t help, since I don’t generally like movies in 3-D and think the recent 3-D movement is nothing more than a cheap ploy to raise ticket prices.

And then the movie started and I was immediately captivated. By the end of the credits, I was exhilarated. As I told my friend Jeff, who I’d gone to the movie with, I felt like I was 10 years old all over again. I honestly don’t know why the movie isn’t getting rave reviews, because I loved it. (Well, truthfully, I do understand, because I realize not everyone likes what I like.) Also, the 3-D is really well done, which pleasantly surprised me.

This afternoon, I finally got around to seeing Thor, another movie I was excited to see, a movie that has gotten generally good reviews. And again, I felt like I was a little kid, enthralled and inspired by the movie. I don’t really understand why Thor has gotten good reviews while Green Lantern hasn’t, especially since the movies seem really similar to me. But the important thing is that I loved them both and they pushed the same Gee Whiz buttons inside of me.

Both movies move back and forth between epic, cosmic fantasy and terrestrial, personal drama. Both movies embrace the colorful melodrama of superhero comics, without veering into camp. (Both movies also feature heroes and villains with serious daddy issues. That doesn’t push my Gee Whiz buttons, but I’m amused by the similarity.) They both tell the kind of superhero story I’ve been wanting to see more of: huge, bright, trippy, thrilling, cheeky and earnest, with heroes who aren’t perfect but who honestly want to do good and struggle to be the best they can be. Neither Green Lantern nor Thor are particularly nuanced or subtle films, but both are solidly fun, entertaining and visually spectacular.

I want more of this. I want more fun, epic, cosmic stories that make me feel like a kid, wide-eyed and grinning. I want more movies, TV shows, books and comics that make me breathlessly exclaim, “Gee whiz!” Give me more mad, beautiful stories of gods and monsters and worlds in crisis.

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7 thoughts on “Gods and Monsters

  1. I am so glad you went to see Green Lantern despite the reviews. I knew you of all people would have the balanced POV I was looking for: you are a Fanboy but you are also very picky about how your beloved comic books and characters are treated. The one thing I sensed in all the reviews was a certain negativity towards the “earnest” quality you spoke of. And, really, while comics always have more of this than their movie versions, Green Lantern has it in spades to begin with, so I knew the critics were going to have an issue with it. To remain a respectable member of the press in this country, you cannot allow more than a little glimmer of your earnestness show (to prove you are still human, maybe). Otherwise, huge faux pas and you are ostracized by your black-belt Cynic comrades. Personally I don’t see why you can’t hold a black-belt in Cynicism and a green-belt in Earnestness at the same time.

    I am now definitely going to go see this *and* Thor (I bet your favorite thing about Thor was Kat Dennings! 😛 )and may even do a double feature as you did. I’ll have to see how my “absorbtion ability factor” is doing that day.

  2. Kat Dennings sure is the hawtness! You know me too well, Beth.

    Yeah, I’m not surprised a lot of reviewers are down on earnestness. I’ve one review of Green Lantern and while the reviewer and I both saw the same things, we reacted to them very differently. I see it as similar to music: one person’s brilliant guitar solo is another person’s squall of noise. And that’s cool. But it’s sad that earnest melodrama is scorned in favor of a certain “hip” distance and darkness.

  3. One reviewer, I think from msn.com, said Green Lantern should have gone for more camp like “Flash Gordon” (1980) did. I worship that movie, and Ryan Reynolds has the comedy chops to pull that kind of thing off but I think that would have pissed off more fans and driven away your average movie-goer. Plus, the comic just doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment. (Flash Gordon was a ’30s comic strip, so there were plenty of anachronisms to play around with in a cheesy 80s movie – and even then, it didn’t actually “work” box office-wise.)

  4. I love Flash Gordon, but it’s definitely a product of its time, and Green Lantern would SUCK if it were that campy. I think you’re right, today’s average moviegoer wouldn’t go for a campy superhero movie like that.

  5. Glad to hear this. It’s my Father’s Day matinee tomorrow (1:50).

  6. Interesting. I plan to see GL (and X-Men, and Captain America, and…) for the love of super heroes. It’s easier to recapture what I love about them in a movie than in an monthly comic, strangely enough. I think the gee-whiz factor starts to wear thin for me after a while, if there isn’t solid storytelling to back it up.

    Anyway, I wonder how Thor and GL compare for you with the “darker and edgier” of the X-Men franchise and the Nolan Batman films?

  7. I like the first two X-Men movies, didn’t like the third and haven’t seen First Class yet. I think I need to see Nolan’s Batman movies again, because while I liked them in the theater, I don’t remember them all that fondly. I think they’re well done cinematically, but Tim Burton’s Batman movies are more my style. Honestly, I’m pretty tired of seeing Batman as Grim Rich Guy With Lots Of Gadgets And An Armored Costume and would like to see Batman on film as The World’s Greatest Detective, Escape Artist And Martial Artist Who Uses Some Gadgets. Enough with the Frank Miller Batman already! But I also have to admit that Batman’s not my favorite superhero by a long shot. I’m much more a fan on Superman, Green Lantern, the Flash, the Atom, the Fantastic Four, Thor, Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family, the Doom Patrol, the New Gods and Mister Miracle.

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