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Zadzooks: Green Lantern: Extended Cut review (Blu-ray)

- The Washington Times - Friday, October 14, 2011

Earlier this year, DC Comics' Emerald Warrior made his debut in a live-action film starring Ryan Reynolds in the title role of Hal Jordan, cocky test pilot turned Guardian of Sector 2814.

The film, heavy on computer-generated special effects, arrives on Blu-ray in Green Lantern: Extended Cut (Warner Home Video, rated PG-13, $35.99) and, although it never resonated with critics and general movie audiences (numbed, perhaps, by the recent waves of superhero movies), it should please anyone dazzled by the comic book format.

In particular, the loyal fan of heroic pop art, fascinated by the Lantern mythos, will find a story construct similar to a typical sequential art issue touting a costumed crusader.

Viewers get a mix of a Green Lantern origins culled from DC editor Julius Schwartz' 1960s Silver Age revival of the hero and from 2008's Green Lantern: Secret Origin, a comic book series orchestrated by creator Geoff Johns, through a story that also incorporates a universe-consuming, fear-sucking villain.

Specifically, Hal Jordan is on a self-destruct mission while toying with the emotions of his childhood sweetheart, Carol Ferris, until his fateful meeting with alien Abin Sur who gives him the green power ring that transforms him into a member of the premier galaxy police.

Meanwhile, a battle wages against Parallax that involves lots of Green Lanterns, and ultimately the fate of the Earth will hang in the balance.

Much like the average superhero comic book, one-liners stack up with superficial character relationships while those big splash-page action scenes generate the smiles.

The best parts of the movie involve watching members of the Green Lantern Corps interact with Hal and each other, and watching the Green Lantern use his powers in splendid high definition.

Corps members hanging out on Oa (planetary headquarters to the group and beautifully brought to life) such as Sinestro (actor Mark Strong at his most irritated), lizard-bird Tomar-Re and the bulky Kilowog should satisfy along with flashes of R'amey Holl (a butterflylike female), Bzzd (a large fly), Stel (robot) and even face time with Guardians of the Galaxy (perfectly crafted). I'll gripe that this group never appears enough or when Hal needs them most.

Of course, Green Lantern uses the power ring and his creativity to construct nearly any object in his battles. Special effects not only deliver a fantastic costume (energy suit), but also has Hal and his cohorts produce, on the fly, such items as a sword, chain saw, steel pillars, giant fist, brick walls, rope, boulders, Gatling gun, anti-aircraft gun, jet planes and a small sun.

It's especially slick as Hal saves a senator using a Hot Wheels-inspired construct.

Ultimately, that's the bulk of a breezy two-hour "Green Lantern" that finishes with the possibility of a sequel, or, in my world, a second issue. Except that the Blu-ray price of admission is about nine times what one might pay for a comic book.

Note: One truly annoying part of the Blu-ray is watching the extended edition. It basically replays a scene from Hal's childhood that is already covered in tighter flashbacks later in the movie.

Best extras: When I wrote that the Green Lantern Blu-ray and movie is for the comic book fan, I meant it and the extras will not disappoint.

Let's start with a Maximum Movie Mode, not hosted by the director, Martin Campbell, but by the man responsible for the latest incarnation of Green Lantern, DC Entertainment's Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns.

Although it's a step backward for Warner Home Video innovation (refer to Zach Snyder's Maximum tutorial on "Watchmen" or Kevin Smith’s lunacy in “Cop Out”), it still packs quite an information wallop.

Content pops in via picture-in-picture segments during the movie almost every minute. Most interviews are conducted by Mr. Johns, who heaps tons of praise on all of those involved. He lets loose with a string of superlatives such as great, super impressed, awesome, psyched, loved, happy and super exciting on such folks as Ryan Reynolds and production designer Grant Major every chance he gets.

Studious fans will most appreciate the movie-to-comic characters comparisons pop ups and biographies loaded with art and highlighting Tom Kalmaku, Hal Jordan, Abin Sur and all of the major Corps members.

Other features in the Maximum Movie Mode include slide shows and focus points that break down everything from the U.C.A.V. dogfight to designing the planet Oa and a look at the Guardians.

Next, readers will enjoy the 20-minute documentary "Universe According to the Green Lantern" bursting with classic art from legends such as Gil Kane and Neil Adams. It takes a too brief look at the character in comics encompassing such eras as when the socially relevant Green Lantern teamed up with Green Arrow and his dark days as a mass-murdering deity. A cavalcade of industry creators pipes in, including Denny O'Neil. Dan Jurgens, Peter Tomasi, Ethan Van Sciver, and (of course) Geoff Johns.

Also, and most important for the hard-core comic book gamer, the package contains a code to unlock a yellow Sinestro Corps suit for the Dark Knight to wear in his latest video game adventure, Batman: Arkham City (PlayStation 3 only). Yeah, I agree, an odd choice for a costume but relevant as the brooding hero was recruited to the dark side by the group. As an FYI, there is even an action figure of him wearing the suit sitting in toy stores.

Read all about it: Warner Home Video includes a digital version of the first issue of the latest relaunch of the monthly Justice League comic book series.

This interactive slide show presentation automatically hones into every panel from the pages so viewers can read the dialogue bubbles (read quickly) and admire Jim Lee's awesome artwork on a big screen. A simple navigation menu allows the show to be stopped or moved forward and back.

As part of the "The New 52" initiative that renumbers and rewrites all of DC Comics' core superhero titles back to issue No. 1 (a desperate marketing gimmick for desperate times in the industry for sure), the book features the first meeting between Batman and the Green Lantern written by (who else?) Geoff Johns. Oh well, so much for the continuity in my 40-plus years of comic book reading.

Although Green Lantern makes a meaty appearance in the digital book, fans looking for a lengthier read on their hero should try the DC Comics' trade paperback Green Lantern: The Movie Prequels ($14.99), which compiles issues devoted to Hal Jordan, Sinestro, Kilowog, Abin Sur and Tomar-Re. Or, buy Green Lantern Super Spectacular No. 1 ($9.99) for a taste of stories over the years, including the 1965 tale "The Secret Origin of the Guardians" from Green Lantern no. 40, drawn by the legendary Gil Kane.

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