CURRENT WEEKEND, PREVIOUS YEAR (FATHER’S DAY WEEKEND)

Green Lantern
Let’s face it, when it comes to getting their comic book properties on to the silver screen, Marvel has been kicking DC’s ass. DC suddenly realized that they had more than Batman and Superman at their disposal and put Green Lantern on the fast track for production, with release in 2011. To help better understand how the finished product turned out, here is this visual comparison.  Enjoy.

Green Lantern follows cocky test pilot Hal Jordan as he is recruited by an intergalactic peace-keeping group called the Lantern Corp. The gig involves wearing a power ring that manifests energy projections limited only by the wearer’s imagination and willpower.  But he’d better hurry up on embracing his destiny and all that jazz because there’s an oh so “fearsome” giant space cloud with a grudge coming to destroy the earth.

The superhero films that came out in 2011 were actually really good. That is, up until this one came out. Green Lantern comes off as such a banal, passionless product that its infinite other faults scream for attention. All of the space material on the lantern training planet and elsewhere in space could provide a less mediocre focus for the movie, seeing how all the scenes that take place there are the closest thing to what could be described as interesting.

“It should be set it mostly on Earth in order to show the main character’s humanity” – some test audience member that probably fucked the movie up in some way. Or some Warner Bros. executive early in the planning stages. Either way, bad call.

So instead, our story occurs mostly here on our big blue planet, and comes complete with thinly written characters with non-existent motivations, slapdash editing, one ridiculous villain and another utterly pointless one, bland action scenes, some genuinely stupid parts (an elaborate racetrack projection? Really?), an out of place and overbearing score, and the overall scope and feel of an early ’90s TV movie.

The only feasible excuse this movie could have for being so messy is that, because the movie did in fact run over budget, not all of the extensive effects shots could be finished by the release date, and therefore the movie needed to be re-cut to be more Earth-centric. But that theory only accounts for a portion of the awfulness at hand, and it is, after all, just a theory. Green Lantern is a missed opportunity, and one that Warner and DC will suffer because of for some time to come.

Green Lantern debuted this weekend in 2011 to a $53 mill opening weekend, but poor word of mouth saw to its rapid decline afterwards and while the movie made back its budget, it did little more at the box office.

Toy Story 3

I have to begin this selection with a short disclaimer: PIXAR movies don’t do as much for me as they do for others. Something about the computer animated romps doesn’t stick in my memory as strongly as a traditional, hand-drawn animated movie. But that’s not to say the movies are bad; usually they’re the opposite. In fact, it’s hard to make a case that Toy Story 3 isn’t a good, if not great movie.
Andy is going off to college and Woody, Buzz and rest of the gang of toys are more than a little concerned about their fate post Andy. Through a series of events, they all end up at a seemingly utopian day care center. Only Woody is suspicious and eventually realizes the center is quite distopian. Thus, the greatest animated adaption of The Great Escape is born.

It’s actually pretty impressive how dark and heavy Toy Story 3 is considering its status as something kids will enjoy. Yeah, it does have its fair share of juvenile humor (one of the few detractors the film has), but that’s not the majority. I mean, the biggest theme in the movie is what happens to a toy after their owner is done with them. They really drove home the idea that the garbage is the saddest, loneliest, most disturbing end a toy can have.

When I read early on that this would be a weeper, I just assumed they would use the sappy, manipulative, War Horse strategy to get audiences bawling. Luckily, it was not the case. The reason people got misty-eyed (including, possibly, myself) was because you still cared for the characters and seeing them given such a warm, caring goodbye hit all the right notes.

Toy Story 3 opened this weekend in 2010 to a mighty fine $110 mill and went on to be the highest grossing film, domestically and globally, in 2010.


The Incredible Hulk
People apparently weren’t too ecstatic about Ang Lee’s Hulk in 2003 and neither was Universal Pictures. The film rights reverted back to Marvel Studios after Universal waited too long for a sequel. Now, just by nature it’s tricky to make a good movie around a character like the Hulk, but I’m of the mind that they did that with The Incredible Hulk. Or, if not a good one, a fun one.
The sort of re-boot, sort of sequel picks up after summarizing the origin in the opening credits with Bruce Banner worker at a bottling plant in Rio de Janeiro, trying to cure his disease on the side. After possibly finding a way out through a mysterious benefactor back home, Banner returns to the U.S.A, but not before a brush with his pursuer Gen. Thunderbolt Ross. Ross and his agent, Emil Blonsky, have been tampering with the super-soldier serum, and the Hulk may be needed when things get out of hand.
The thing I think this movie has that the previous one didn’t is balance. Not only balance between the story and the action but balance between the comic book mythology of The Hulk and the television series from the ’70s, with Banner on the run, that many people find instantly recognizable. Edward Norton delivers a really grounded performance and is clearly interested in making sure the movie is good (which, incidentally, is why Marvel fired him; talk about backwards). I also found the villain this time around, Tim Roth, to be much more menacing and formidable, which is definitely what the movie needed.
Liv Tyler and William Hurt are just kind of there, there’s a lag a little after and hour in and the CGI has become a bit dated by today’s standards. The final battle turns into a CGI creature cluster-fuck but I don’t really see any scenario where it happens any other way and why should it? All three action sequences are unique and exciting in their own way and keep things fun at just the right point when they’re needed.
The Incredible Hulk isn’t a highly ambitious movie, but it is an incredibly fun one and provides a more entertaining, well rounded look at the one who smashes.
The Incredible Hulk opened this weekend in 2008 to $55 mill, compared to the original Hulk’s $62 mill opening (but the latter experienced a steeper drop afterwards). Incredible Hulk ended up making roughly the same amount of money and close to the same Tomato-meter rating as the original Hulk (around $263 mill worldwide and close to 66%, respectively), which was not enough to warrant a direct sequel. However, the positive attention given to the Hulk in The Avengers has stirred rumors of another stand alone Hulk movie in the future starring Mark Ruffalo.

Batman Begins
The movie that started the notion of a re-boot (not to mention a trilogy (fingers crossed) of badass movies) landed in 2005. From the beginning it was apparent that from now on Batman was going to be taken far more seriously than before and the fearsome predator of Gotham’s underworld was to be featured instead of the nippled cracker of quips.

Bruce Wayne has disappeared off the face of the Earth after the death of his parents. In reality, he has been around the world learning about criminality and training with a secret organization of assassins. After a falling out with them, he returns to Gotham City to find it more corrupt than ever. With the help of his trusted butler Alfred, scientist Lucias Fox, lieutenant Jim Gordon and assistant district attorney Rachel Dawes, he becomes the symbol the city needs to shake it out of apathy. As the Batman, his resolve will be tested against the secret forces out to destroy Gotham.

To make a confession, I wasn’t originally crazy about the movie the first time I saw it. It was too dark, mature, and complex for my stupid, 13 year old brain to comprehend. I didn’t read any of the comics, the animated series had ended and opted to go with the flashier The Batman, and the final note of the previous film franchise had been not particularly cerebral. It was only on repeat viewings that I discovered all the joys this movie had to unfurl. Seriously, it completely went over my head the first time that Liam Neeson was Ra’s al Ghul.

Now it stands as one of the greatest comic book movies ever. Putting the focus back on Batman and all his psychological complexities and not letting any of the villains get in the way of this untold story that was about him was essential. Director Christopher Nolan does a masterful job of telling a masterful script, brought to life by a mostly masterful cast. Aside from Katie Holmes and not quite enough Scarecrow for my tastes, the movie would probably be flawless. As is, it’s a superb, memorable turning point for modern film adaptions.

Batman Begins opened this weekend in 2005 to $48 mill. It was dubbed a strong but unimpressive opening by the blockbuster standards of the time. Grossing $205 mill in the U.S. and $372 worldwide, Begins sits as the eighth highest grossing movie of 2005. Its modest success didn’t foretell what was to come for the Batman franchise’s next installment. 

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