Friday, August 26, 2011

Enjoy Your Last Weekend Free of Stress and Rage

Starting next weekend, all of those good feelings and general boredom come to a screeching halt, as we embark on one of the greatest challenges man can face:  enduring a college football season.  So if you've got anything important to do, I suggest you knock it out this weekend or it's not getting done until December at the earliest.  For example, I've got to find a new couch so that I can have a place to fully recline, other than the floor (which is still in play), while taking in all 12-14 hours of games.  If I don't get that done, I could set a new personal record for pacing and lying on a hardwood floor.

So whatever it is you need to do, DO IT, including saying goodbye to family and friends (unless they are just as sick as you are, then you'll have plenty of time to talk, but it will be about nothing meaningful).  If you have nothing to do, other than wait, one of our new contributors offers a questionable at best way to pass the time in seeing Green Lantern.  Yes, it came out weeks ago, but that's what makes seeing it now such a better use of wasting time.  To push you in that direction, here's Venkman's review.

Green Lantern is a Shitpile
By Peter Venkman

Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is a cock-sure test pilot for Ferris Aviation, and he wants to fly your plane, girl. In his first day on screen, Hal wakes up next to a bangin’ blonde (one-night stand) whom he invites to drink “water from his tap”, shows up significantly late to work on a day when he is scheduled to fly an uber-experimental aircraft in front of some government big-wigs, promptly crashes (unnecessarily) said aircraft, arrives late to his nephew’s birthday party, then inherits a green power ring-pop from a dying alien, Abin Sur (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Barney the dinosaur).

So, for future reference, you should never enter into a theater expecting to witness the heart-warming tale of a responsible, rule-abiding, mild-mannered test pilot- in fact, this person does not exist. If Top Gun, Air America, Iron Eagle, Firebirds, Fire Fox, Pearl Harbor, Stealth and Starship Troopers have taught us anything, it’s that pilots are acutely incapable of adhering to the norms of society because, dammit, they’d lose the edge!

Anyway, unbeknownst to Hal, shit’s about to get real on planet Oa (just go with it). The Yellow-essence of fear, “Parallax”, as represented by a gaseous yellow fart, has escaped from prison (didn’t see that coming) and has decided to scare the people of Earth shitless. Clearly, the only way to combat the evil Parallax is with the Green gaseous fart, “Will Power”, as produced by the green ring-pops of the Green Lantern Corps.

Back on Earth, Dreamboat Reynolds is fighting a losing battle as he tries to split time between his renewed romantic interest and fellow test-pilot, Carol Ferris (Blake Lively, who I would have rather watched read names from the phonebook for two hours), and his hard-core Green Lantern Will Power training montages with Tomar-Re (an actual chicken), Kilowog (?), and Sinestro (a handsome devil). As Yellow Fart draws closer to Earth, Sinestro asks the Guardians to fashion a Yellow-Fart-Fear-Ring as, in his reddish noggin, this is the only way to defeat Parallax.

It is here at the close of Act II that H-Jordan heeds the call to heroism and announces to the Guardians that it is ludicrous to fight fear with fear because then the Yellow Fart wins! In a clear-cut case of paper beats rock, Hal explains that his Green Will Power Farts will trump Parallax’s Yellow Fear Farts every time, essentially because it’s the American Way. And wouldn’t you know it, Van Wilder lassos Parallax with his Green Will Power Fart Rope and throws Yellow Fart into the yellow Sun. (Yellow does beat Yellow?)

Scouring the Internets, the vast majority of critics would have you believe that Green Lantern’s greatest failure was cheesy special effects. This is a lazy, bullshit answer. The alien planet Oa didn’t look very realistic to you, but you were fine with cinematic depictions of Krypton? Audiences will employ a suspension of disbelief for almost anything as long as the story and direction are decent, but unfortunately, this film possesses neither. Let’s examine Lantern director Martin Campbell’s previous 10 films:

Film     Budget (Millions)     Worldwide Gross:

1. Edge of Darkness     60     81
2. Casino Royale     150     594
3. The Legend of Zorro     75     74
4. Beyond Borders     35     12
5. Vertical Limit     75     215
6. The Mask of Zorro     65     140
7. Goldeneye     60     350
8. No Escape     20     15
9. Defenseless     n/a     6
10. Criminal Law     n/a     10

(Ed: Pretty sure those last two aren't films, but classes taught at your local YMCA.)

In short, only 5 of Campbell’s 10 previous films turned a profit, two of these being James Bond films, which I’m inclined to throw out altogether. The cinematic and woman-“shlapping” exploits of Sir Sean Connery have pretty much ensured that audiences will always turn up in droves for any Bond film, no matter who dons the tuxedo. His other money-earners were a critically-panned Edge of Darkness, the Zorro re-boot, Legend of Zorro, and the Chris O’Donnell actioner Vertical Limit (WTF?). Regardless, some high-ranking executive at Warner Brothers decided this was the man to entrust with 250+ million dollars and DC comics’ third most popular property (arguably) behind Batman and Superman.

Even more troubling is the indefensible writing team of Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim, and Michael Goldenberg (side-note: any screenplay with 4 credited writers is a sure-fire disaster). I have broken down their greatest achievements prior to Lantern:

Greg Berlanti:  Dawson’s Creek, Jack and Bobby
Michael Green:  Heroes, Jack and Bobby
Marc Guggenheim:  Eli Stone, Jack and Bobby
Michael Goldenberg:  Contact, Peter Pan

(Ed:  Note to self:  Don't watch Jack and Bobby.)

Clearly, the writing heavyweight in this group is Mr. Goldenberg, if for no other reason than the fact that he alone had absolutely nothing to do with the ill-fated WB series, Jack and Bobby (2004), of which IMDB offers the following indecipherable plot summary:

“Faux documentary series from 2049 about Bobby McCallister, the US president elected eight years earlier, and his older brother Jack. Talking head interviews with Bobby's staff are combined with reenactment footage of the McCallisters' teenage years, dealing with a pot smoking mother and typical high school drama. Also explored is Jack's tentative romance with Courtney Benedict, who would eventually become Bobby's first lady.”

Why this smart political teen-drama is no longer on the air, I have no idea- everyone knows the WB’s coveted demographic was elbow deep into “rockin’ the vote” and “voting or dying” in 2004. What I do know is that Berlanti, Green, and Guggenheim must have learned of an executive's love of puppycide and taunting old people, and used their new-found knowledge to land the writing job of their dreams, which brings us to the final reason Green Lantern was a complete disaster:  the entire story is built around the notion that fear is always bad and willpower is always good. I will now debunk this premise in 3 sentences:

I would imagine it takes an astoundingly large measure of willpower for a sane German officer to send Jews to a gas chamber. I possess a great fear of sharks, which is why I don’t swim three miles out into the Gulf of Mexico, slit my leg, and attach a chum-sicle to my junk. Sometimes willpower is unspeakably evil, and conversely, fear can actually save your life.

Gray’s writing team of Chinese children with notepads and pencils could have penned a better script than this putrid abomination. If we’ve learned anything today, it is that talented up-and-comers in both the directing and writing fields might as well choose an alternate profession as Warner Brothers has proven beyond all reasonable doubt that they will insist on helping their own “fail upwards” to the tune of a 100 million dollar loss.

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