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Elliott Serrano Presents:









You know it had to happen. With the success of The Dark Knight and its ‘gritty’ take on the Caped Crusader, the suits at Warner Bros. now want to apply the same formula to the other characters they have in their stables…

Don’t believe me? Well, this is from the Wall Street Journal: ‘(Warner Bros. Pictures Group President) Mr. (Jeff) Robinov wants his next pack of superhero movies to be bathed in the same brooding tone as "The Dark Knight." Creatively, he sees exploring the evil side to characters as the key to unlocking some of Warner Bros.' DC properties. "We're going to try to go dark to the extent that the characters allow it," he says. That goes for the company's Superman franchise as well.’

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The same thing happened in comics in the 80s, and we all know what happened there, don’t we? Well, knowing that history repeats itself again and again, I’m going to look into my crystal ball and give you reviews, yes REVIEWS, of the next three Warner Bros. comic-book films that you should expect to see in cinemas over the next few summers:

Green Lantern: In Blackest Night – Starring Nicholas Cage as Hal Jordan, Jennifer Anniston as Carol Ferris, John Cho as Pieface; Directed by Paul WS Anderson.

This film has been pegged as the first of what is projected to be a franchise. Pulling liberally from the GL mythos, Green Lantern: In Blackest Night tells the origin of the Emerald Knight, but changes some key components. Hal Jordan is no longer a womanizing test pilot, but a former fighter pilot from the Iraq War who is struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Haunted by the faces of the innocent people he feels responsible for killing in combat (‘It’s called collateral damage’ says his fellow veteran Tom ‘Pieface’ Kalmaku – played by John Cho) Jordan displays suicidal tendencies and pushes himself to the brink in whatever automotive conveyance he can find. The scene where he races his Ferrari Testarosa against traffic on the LA Expressway is a frenetic jumble and was reminiscent of Cage’s car chase in ‘The Rock.

One particular chase ends with him in the Nevada desert, stranded and near death, until a ‘UFO’ crash lands nearby. (Why they decided to get rid of the idea that the ring chooses its bearer is beyond me. I guess the writer’s thought that if audiences can accept that the symbiote from Spiderman 3 just happened to crash land close to where Peter Parker was picnicking, they’d also accept this tremendous coincidence.) Jordan approaches the spacecraft and encounters the alien pilot Abin Sur, played sparingly by Ben Kingsley. Informed that he must ‘assume the mantle’ of a Green Lantern ‘officer’, Jordan accepts the ‘alien power ring’ and is about to be told how it works when – believe it or not – Abin Sur dies.

The next hour and a half consists of Jordan trying to figure out how the ring works while he struggles with a drinking problem, resulting in a strange mash-up of The Greatest American Hero meets Leaving Las Vegas. Oh yeah, and John Malkovich as Parallax is a totally wasted performance.

____________________________________________

The Flash: Fastest Man Alive - Starring Eddie Murphy as Barry Allen; Janet Jackson as Iris West; Javier Bardem as Professor Zoom; Directed by Richard Donner.

Ok, how is Eddie Murphy still getting work these days? After the relative flop of Beverly Hills Cop 5, Murphy somehow manages to be cast in the role of Barry Allen, police forensic specialist and all-around science nerd. While assisting in an investigation of a series of serial-murders, Allen is targeted by the ‘Zoom Killer’ (as he has been dubbed by the media) played with eerie menace by Javier Bardem. The attempt on Allen’s life by the ‘Zoom Killer’ leads to an accident in the police lab that grants both Allen and ‘Zoom’ super-speed. The movie then becomes a chase between Allen and ‘Zoom’ as Zoom tries to use his newfound powers to up his body count, while Allen tries to stop him.

All in all, not a terrible concept, but the tone is all over the place. Murphy’s performance as an introvert is muted and in the beginning, almost as if he was trying to pull a Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The scenes with Bardem as the Zoom Killer (they never get around to actually calling him ‘Professor Zoom’) are downright creepy and sometimes disturbing. But then the two get their super-speed – with a mention of the Speed Force – and Murphy turns into Jim Carrey from The Mask and Bardem turns into Hannibal Lecter on speed (pun intended).

Janet Jackson returns to serve as Murphy’s love interest, and I kept waiting for Murphy to turn up as other multiple characters in the film, ala The Klumps.

And finally, with all the hoopla of Richard Donner returning to comic-book movies after getting fired from Superman 2, I have to say he should have stuck with the Lethal Weapon movies. Let’s face it, for all his insanity, Mel Gibson can still act.

_____________________________________________

Wonder Woman: Amazon in America – Starring Angelina Jolie as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman; Brad Pitt as Steve Trevor; Johnny Depp as Ares; Directed by Doug Liman.

Reuniting the team that brought us Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Wonder Woman: Amazon in America tells the story of Diana Prince, Amazon Warrior from Paradise Island and women’s advice columnist for the New York Times. After coming to ‘Man’s World’ on a mission of bringing peace, Diana (played by Jolie and looking pretty good considering her latest pregnancy resulted in triplets) decides to help ‘empower women’ by disguising herself as a mortal newspaper columnist.

Her job brings her into conflict with features editor Steve Trevor (played by real-life better-half Brad Pitt). The conflict turns to passion and Diana must then choose between finding peace with the man she loves and sacrificing it for the good of all ‘womankind.’ The plot didn’t make that much sense to me, and when Johnny Depp enters the picture to tempt Diana into giving up her mission and joining him to ‘conquer mortal man’, I was pretty much apathetic to everyone. The fight scenes were pretty cool, though, with Doug Liman pulling some tricks from his ‘Bourne Identity’ days. There’s a battle on top of the Statue of Liberty that evokes a Wonder Woman cover I saw once.

But the sub-plot where Steve Trevor revealed he was molested as a child just seemed unnecessary. Just what were they thinking when they wrote the script? It seemed like they made it up as they went.

So there you have it folks, reviews for the next 3 comic-book movies from the WB/DC Comics partnership. Pray that I’m wrong about these, cuz I’ll admit, these ideas really, REALLY suck.

But if you see them on the big screen, remember where you saw them first.

Elliott Serrano is a Comic-Book Writer/Columnist/Graphic Artist/Geek who will be checking the IMDB database over the next few weeks to see if these ideas make it into some motion picture pitches. They suck enough to have someone lift them and try to claim them as their own. Especially a film exec.

Visit the Comic Culture Warrior You Tube Channel and his blog for more rants and raves. You can also read his column Geek To Me, every other week or so in the Chicago Red Eye.

E.R. Serrano

 

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