An Incredibly Controversial Movie Opinion

All right, here goes. This might be the very thing that pushes everyone over the edge to stop talking to me. But it’s something that, after today, I can no longer keep to myself.

I have to live my truth, no matter what it costs me.

The Opinion

Green Lantern is a pretty good movie, actually. It doesn’t deserve the scorn it received.

Released in 2011 and starring Ryan Reynolds, this is a fun piece of entertainment. After watching it again today at the request of the youngest padawan, I can plainly say that I enjoy it unapologetically.

Reynolds is far more restrained than he is in Deadpool, or even X-Men Origins: Wolverine. (As a side note: the former is not truly as great as its reputation, and the latter is not as bad as its own.) His comic instincts are still great, but it’s obvious that the director kept it turned down to a 7 or 8 instead of the typical “11.”

I like this level of Reynolds’ snark. It’s the same reason Just Friends works so well. He’s just as much of a smart aleck as he needs to be, instead of running roughshod over any semblance of emotional connection for a quick laugh.

The effects are overly ambitious, but I like ambitious effects. The production design is still very solid, and I like the tweaks they made to the technology to sell it as part of our “real world.” The supporting cast is strong, and sell their parts.

Green Lantern Ryan Reynolds | kesseljunkie
I said what I said.

It’s Fun

Mainly, though, it’s just fun. It has that comic book energy that’s been slowly draining out of that genre of films ever since executives realized they could focus group them into money printing exercises.

Of course they wanted to make money with this. Of course they wanted to make this their Connected Universe jump off point.

The amazing thing is, this is a perfect jumping off point for a connected universe. You’re on a galactic scale from the beginning, and building a world that would accept a Superman, Wonder Woman, or even a Martian Manhunter.

There are parts that don’t work. I’m not presenting this as the modern era’s Superman (1978) or Batman (1989). But it does have the grand scale and world-changing stakes that those did, while also having a sense of humor about the natural absurdity of it all.

It’s possible, even, to see Man of Steel is a logical counterbalance to Green Lantern, and therefore a better puzzle piece than starting point. Man of Steel is also far from perfect, and has a bit too much self-seriousness about itself, but is clearly a part of this world.

If you were to watch both back to back, I imagine you could draw the line from Dour Superman could find his way toward sharing screentime with Green Lantern’s more whimsical sense. They could then both learn from each other how to balance it all out.

Heck, Green Lantern’s super-saturated color palette could also bleed a little into Superman’s washed-out hues. You see the two extremes next to each and discover the direction both need to take to meet in the middle.

Too Much

I’m not trying to read too much into it. Again, Green Lantern is decidedly imperfect in a few key ways, not the least of which is too much plot crammed into a story that’s not robust enough to support it.

But it’s of a similar construction to 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. While that’s not as good as Green Lantern, it nonetheless has a similar flaw of trying to cram just too many producer demands into a single film. Green Lantern, however, at least has a more engaging ending and satisfying resolution.

I know what I risk by putting such a statement out there. I accept what is coming my way. But I’ll say it even more clearly this time.

I’d watch Green Lantern a hundred times again before I re-watch Iron Man 2 or even Thor: The Dark World. I could go even more controversial than that, but I think you get my point.

Green Lantern Ryan Reynolds | kesseljunkie
I know I’m not alone, too. Rally around me!

The Prophecy of Total Recall

Let’s get something out of the way first and foremost. The title and the inspiration for this blog came from a conversation with my pal, @craigsorrell. If I don’t acknowledge that off the bat, I’ll get an earful.

Total Recall, released in 1990, is not a particularly good film. To be sure, it’s got cheesy nostalgic appeal; there was a young kesseljunkie many years ago who saw the film in the theater and loved it.

He loved it so much he wanted to go right back in the theater and see it a second time. I know that he saw it more than once in the theater, because back then it was a lot cheaper to go to the movies and if something was mediocre it was still a cheaper option than anything else, so long as you didn’t get popcorn.

(That young kesseljunkie also had a friend who immediately pointed out that the physics of the atmosphere wouldn’t blah blah blah something something oxygen who cares yes we know and do not care.)

But part of growing up is being able to be honest with yourself about the things you once loved, and their place in your life. It’s OK to change and have your opinions or tastes change. It happens! Anyone who thinks they have it all figured by the time they hit their twenties is an idiot, a cult member, or both.

But what I’m talking about this time is the eerie prophetic quality of one scene in particular.

Two Weeks Total Recall GIF | kesseljunkie
You hear the voice in your head every time. EVERY TIME.

TWO WEEKS!

If you haven’t seen the movie, there’s a scene where a woman is going through customs on Mars and she declares she’s going to be there for two weeks. She then starts repeating “TWO WEEKS” with more and more fervor, pulling at her own lips as if her body has betrayed her.

As her breakdown continues, repeatedly saying “TWO WEEKS,” she backs away into the wall. You then find the real surprise: it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger in disguise! It’s not as satisfying as a Lando in disguise, but we make do.

But what I was discussing with my pal was, in this time we’re living everything is measured in TWO WEEKS. We just have to wait TWO WEEKS to see the latest doomsday predictions come to pass. We just have to wait TWO WEEKS to find out if that stuff about the thing is true. We’ll see in TWO WEEKS if Ghislaine Maxwell didn’t kill herself.

So I ventured an idea. What if Total Recall was at least partly written by someone who traveled from the future and was just screwing with us because TWO WEEKS would be a permanent GIF in usage and people would keep discussing and watching Total Recall.

I’m going to investigate this possibility and get back to you with what I find out.

In TWO WEEKS.

This is from my personal Special Edition of the movie.

Which Viewing Order Should I Choose?

OK, it’s been heavy around here lately, so here’s one that hopefully spurs some conversation that isn’t centered around anything but one of my favorite film series.

The question always comes up about the best “viewing order” for any franchise series, whether it’s the tiresome Machete Order which inexplicably ignores the criminally-underrated Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, or some other mix that is as tiring to debate as anything else.

Darth Funk has a cool costume | kesseljunkie
But does he get good Bluetooth reception in there?

Not What You Think

Oh, but I’m not talking about the Star Wars films. I’m talking about the movie franchise that out-Marvel®™©s Marvel©®™, the Fast & Furious franchise. Sure, the ride at Universal Orlando® is…not great…but I enjoy the movies. I enjoy some of them more than others, and love it as a whole. It’s a vibrant testament to entertainment at all costs.

As I was looking over the collection, though, I realized I’m not sure of the best viewing order! This is an important question with the ninth installment in the saga coming out in 2021. (It was supposed to be 2020, but ugh.)

Fast & Furious, which soft-reboots the series in a way that Lucasfilm should have studied for the sequel trilogy, is a prequel. Though the fourth movie, it takes place before the third.

Fast Five and Furious 6 (since retitled, but forget that noise) are prequels to The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift as well. This creates a small bit of a quandary with some technology questions, but honestly no one cares. It’s about the art!

Of course, when you have prequels, the question of story order and emotional impact gets difficult. I’m going to set aside the Star Wars films again in favor of another example.

You can argue that the emotional weight of any prequel is at least partly informed by the original film(s). I’m speaking in generalities, of course. I’m sure there are people ready to jump all over a statement like that to try to disprove it.

But I think it’s a fair point. While it’s fun and interesting to screw around with story order, would you love Indiana Jones as much in Temple of Doom if you hadn’t gotten to know him first when he was a more-likable and better person in Raiders of the Lost Ark?

Hobbs and Dom in Fast Five screenshot | kesseljunkie
How I greet all my friends now. We hate sleeves in warm climates.

Back to the Question

So I’m left with the essential question of what I should do. If I were to rearrange the order, and put the fourth, fifth, and sixth before the third, what happens to the first two?

The trick is that Fast & Furious does such a good job of soft-rebooting the franchise that the setup of the original film isn’t quite so necessary. So I’d have to find somewhere to place it as a flashback/prequel treatment in viewing order on its own.

Or perhaps the optimal viewing order is 1-4-5-6-3-7-8? In the spirit of the aforementioned Machete Order for Star Wars, I dropped 2 since apparently you’re allowed to do that for some reason.

This doesn’t even bring Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw, either. It can drop in after 8 for viewing, but that’s in hopes that something divulged in it ties in to F9.

Curious what others might say, especially after I make it clear right now that I think this series is, indeed, more entertaining and satisfying than the Marvel©®™ movies.

I said good day!

…One More Thing

Of course, none of this addresses the fact that Better Luck Tomorrow is technically part of this series and could be watched instead of 2 Fast 2 Furious without missing a beat. I could also watch BLT first overall. That would be interesting.

Second Chances

This is one from the archives, which was inspired by an episode of Nerd Nuptial, a show on The Nerd Party hosted by @TheInsaneRobin and The Girl. In it they asked why people give things – specifically movies – second chances when they didn’t like them the first time. As I stumbled across this post sitting in my drafts folder, I wanted to offer my own take.

This discussion exempts, of course, why we watch movies again that we enjoy. We watch them again because they offer something we need, and they’re a reliable commodity like a favorite dinner or candy bar. A truly good film can offers something a little different on a new viewing, or make you ponder their questions and themes as if they were fresh. A

Alternatively, they might just be thrilling and, like riding a roller coaster we’ve ridden before, we just want to experience a familiar thrill. We want to escape, to retreat from the world and let our hearts take over when our minds are tired. There are plenty of films out there that exist within that zone.

Back to the topic at hand, I think there are two big reasons why we give movies “second chances”….

Hope Springs Eternal

In the “Hope Springs Eternal” category, a rewatch happens in the case of a mediocre-to-bad movie made by someone whose work we typically enjoy. We feel compelled to do it.

After all, there are so many factors that go into enjoying a movie the first time around. How you feel, how the crowd is (if you see it in the theater), whether the day at work was rough, whether you’re just not in the right “place” at that time.

You could call this The Prometheus Factor: “I didn’t like this, but I figured I should have. There must have been something going on with me that day.” (Spoilers: No, it’s just a mess with an awful ending. And that ties into the second reason.)

Age is also a factor. I love to talk about the fact that decades later, when I was a different person and my tastes had changed, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me was no longer a reviled abomination that deserved contempt. I actually like it now.

Who knew?

Affirmation

The “Affirmation” possibility is because we want to affirm how right we were. And that’s OK, everyone needs a little affirmation now and then.

Additionally, movies that fail can give us a sense of relief, because they let us feel like our failures are OK, because at least we don’t fail on such a large scale.

Did you mess up for a meeting at work? At least you didn’t make Universal Soldier. Did you leave the car door unlocked in the driveway and someone stole the radio out of your car? At least you didn’t make Independence Day: Resurgence.

In Conclusion

In essence, we can’t really lose with a second chance. At worst, we confirm our first opinion and affirm our “correctness,” which can give a small ego boost.

At best, we find out we were just cranky on the first go, and we kind of like it after all. That happened with me on the aforementioned Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. It happened with me when I revisited The Shining as well!

It also happened with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. If you want to hear more about that…tune in real soon to something new happening over on The Nerd Party next week.

What’s Worth Saving?

This is not what you think it’s about. This is about movies, and is born out of a conversation with a chap I’ve known for decades.

He’s a really good guy, and occasionally we hit spots where we find ourselves accidentally exploring an issue that winds up going off on a bizarrely serious tangent.

In this case, we were talking about movies. As we both love to joke, the cult movie Phantasm has a remaster available for purchase thanks to JJ Abrams’ fandom of it. The movie is, to say the least, not wildly popular for a reason. There are some who even might say it kind of sucks.

I’m not the one on trial here!

What we got around to debating and wondering, yet again, was why Phantasm has a remaster but some of the truly classic long-lost gems don’t even have a decent modern release.

Take, for instance, the film 29th Street. This 1991 charmer stars Danny Aiello and Anthony Lapaglia in a dramatization of the real-life story of Frank Pesce, the first winner of the New York State Lottery. It’s set at Christmastime, and a used DVD copy of it goes for $72.24 on Amazon. It’s got a terrific supporting cast, it’s set at Christmas, and has a genuinely lovely story arc.

Why is there an affordable remaster of Phantasm, but not of that?

29th Street Movie 1991 Anthony LaPaglia Danny Aiello | kesseljunkie
It’s 100% better than Phantasm. I promise you that.

Before someone thinks they’ve got the answer to end all answers, I’m aware that if JJ Abrams, a powerful producer in Hollywood, is the fan of a movie then it’s going to get remastered.

I’m aware of the argument that there’s a financial side to things. They’re not going to bother with the restoration of a film that isn’t going to get money back for them.

I’m also aware that it highlights the arbitrary nature of film preservation.

Arbitrary

Any given film is special to someone. Trust me on this one.

Unlike previous generations we seem to care deeply about preserving past entertainment. Classic television shows have resurged on streaming platforms. It’s sparked debates about whether the show’s continued availability, if it’s available to modern audiences, forgives that times have changed since its airing.

Before I go off on a different tangent and this becomes a different argument, what I’m really fascinated by is why it bothers “us” so much when things we loved in the past aren’t redeemed in modern formats. Part of growing up is accepting that you’ll lose some things that were special to you.

Things that burned into our minds are literally a piece of us.
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

Emotional Attachment

Sometimes all that remains of your fondest moments are fading memories. For some, that’s just hard to accept.

Maybe that’s part of what’s at the core with certain films being pulled from different services. It’s actively invalidating a fond memory, and a time in your life that is sacred. It’s not so much the movie or the show itself that you’re trying to defend, but the sacrosanct remembrance of our collective youth.

For me, it’s just hard to accept that just because I didn’t remake Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in the most unbearably ham-handed way possible, or preside over the whimpering expiration of the Skywalker Saga, I don’t get to purchase a remaster of a film that I truly loved.

Maybe there’s some jealousy or hurt in there. To keep it personal, something I don’t like is treated with a reverence I feel undeserved, whether it’s Phantasm or the execrable Showgirls, while things that I do are actively cast by the wayside. Something about it seems unfair.

But then, life has always been unfair. Maybe some things just have to be accepted as destined for the dustbin.

Dust to Dust to Digital

Films – almost any entertainment, really – weren’t created with the idea that they would endure in perpetuity. They were created with the idea of entertaining and fulfilling an audience of its time. Some things falling by the wayside is inevitable.

Now, I’m not at all arguing for the erasure of films because times change. I’m staunchly for preserving them as they’re a part of a collective cultural record in the same way that the ruins at Pompeii are. We know a lot about how Roman society evolved in every aspect from politics to slavery thanks to what was preserved, often just as a function of accidental geology.

For that reason, yes, I think we should save all the films we can. I’m just making peace with the idea that the record won’t necessarily be as complete as it should.

Maybe as we transition to digital and streaming, it’ll get better. There are fewer physical considerations, even though technology continues to change rapidly even on that front.

Ha ha, your movie is really just 1100110
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