Monday, February 8, 2016

Green Lantern Outshines Green Hornet

The Green Lantern (2011, Martin Campbell) not only kept to the story line, it took itself seriously.  The Green Hornet (2011, Michel Gondry) failed to make use of a rich story line, and was a joke on itself. 

Movies like these are always made for the fans. Many of those - perhaps most- are established followers to some degree or other.  In addition, the producers always hope to draw upon the millions who do not know the story, and who are looking for something new. They will become the new fans for next release. 

 Of those who enjoyed Lord of the Rings, only a minority slogged through three volumes of elvish poetry and grammar, and only a minority of them read The Silmarillion.  I know for a fact that many of my conservative comrades on did not read Atlas Shrugged either before or after seeing the movies. And few who did have read The Virtue of Selfishness. 

While I knew about Kato, I did not know Lenore Case (a constant as Britt Reid’s secretary), or Michael Axford (a reporter in two movies in 1940 and 1941, now the editor, played by Edward James Olmos.)  However, Wikipedia is our common memory. That said, when I was about three, we had a Hudson Hornet and being green, I called it The Green Hornet, so I must have known the radio show. And, as a young adult, I learned that Britt Reid was a grandnephew of John Reid, the Lone Ranger.  I had some other tangential exposures to the story over the years.

When they first were on the market, I had the presence of mind to buy the Dark Knight series as gifts for my wife. But it was only a couple of years ago that I picked up on the Green Lantern and several other comics, and only because of Big Bang Theory. The library and comic stores were both big helps. So, I am not a trufan, I confess.

Not only did Michel Gondry and Seth Rogen (star and writer with Evan Goldberg) fail to make the best use of a developed narrative, they besmirched it. From radio into movies, television, and several comic publishers, the Green Hornet has had a complex career, and several incarnations. In this version, Britt Reid’s contempt for everyone around him, especially Kato, and Kato’s servility were sickening. Given the recorded history of Lenore Case since 1936, Cameron Diaz’s talent was wasted. In the year 2011, she could have come out early as the brains of the group. And she should not have needed to kick Britt in the nuts. By 2011, he should have been a better person.

The Green Lantern held true to the story, and was written and played as seriously as a comic book can be. Although Hal Jordan is a swaggering jet jockey, he is not an idiot. And he is not mean. And his serious side is evident from the first, so that when he is called upon to be heroic on an inter-galactic scale, it is believable in the context of the story.

"In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil's might,

Beware my power, Green Lantern's light !"


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