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Criticwatch - May Nary A Quote Whore Escape My Sight

by Erik Childress

The fate of Green Lantern was sealed weeks ago. While the film had its planned press junket the first weekend of June, Warner Bros. announced to press in most every market that they will not be seeing the film until two days before opening. They weren't even waiting to see what their precious quote-seeking junket press thought of the film. They knew what they had on their hands and were determined to control the conversation until as close to the film's release as possible. And that's fine. It is their product. They have every right to protect it. But every critic who actually writes or can form a coherent non-hyperbolic thought - and even most readers - know the score when a film is being withheld from view for as long as possible. Any good film critic leaves the baggage of presupposition in the sight of the theater lights. Once that place goes dark, it's only about the movie. But why even tempt fate by illuminating the perception that your film sucks. There are easier ways to do that than creating such a divide between the whores and those who love film so much they don't want to see it tainted with crap like Green Lantern.

Last Summer, Warner Bros. had another mid-June opening based on a comic book property. It was called Jonah Hex. It opened on June 18, 2010 and they screened it for press on June 16. That film went on to receive a 13% rating with only 19-out-of-125 reviews in the positive. Why Rotten Tomatoes has let Prairie Miller post her positive review THREE TIMES remains a mystery. So let's just say 16-out-of-122 positive. Green Lantern has opened on June 17, 2011. It was screened around the country for most critics on June 15 (with a few specks seeing it on the 13th & 14th). It's not doing quite as bad as the better-than-Toy-Story 3, Jonah Hex, (according to Armond White), but 28-out-of-129 reviews positive (as of noon on June 17) for a 22% rating (and 4.4 average compared to Hex's 3.4) only makes the point. The studio had a crap picture and they knew it.

Some might want you to believe that this is a chicken-and-egg scenario though, that critics smelled blood in the water the minute they got their screening invites. And why shouldn't they? This is the standard that has been set whenever a studio screens a movie later than usual; an even bigger stamp of disapproval than the constant use of junket whores to pre-sell their movie - a practice that Warner Bros. adheres to more than any other studio. If it is all about protection, then the studios need to start enforcing their embargo practices. Warner Bros. could have screened Green Lantern on Monday for everybody and just told them to please hold their reviews until Thursday. Same result likely, but they remove the potential pause that they believe us fickle critics have going into every movie, let alone one screened 31 hours before the public can get their fix. Nevertheless before even the chosen few for those select Monday screenings got a look, the television ads for Green Lantern boasted the following:

"A must-see." - Lauren Sanchez
"Amazing." - D.L. Alemoru, Wave Publications
"Compelling." - Tim Wassberg, Inside Reel
"Action-packed" - Trey Alexander,
"Thrilling." - Julie Harkness, Made In Hollywood
"Dynamic." - David Sheehan - Hollywood Close-ups

Heard of any of those people? Try googling D.L. Alemoru and see what you come up with. Save your time, you'll find nothing. Tag Tim Wassberg and you'll find a bunch of interviews, seemingly without questions. Trey Alexander's last quote was calling The Sorcerer's Apprentice, "a blast" and Julie Harkness called WB's Edge of Darkness "powerful." Honestly, I had no knowledge of who Lauren Sanchez was until she was mentioned just the previous week on Tosh.O. I'm sure every fanboy on the planet enjoys looking at her, but do they really want to take her advice that Green Lantern is "a must-see" especially after seeing her previous recommendations:

"You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll remember why you loved going to the movies." (Australia)
"The most fun you'll have this holiday!" (Burlesque)

If it takes a Baz Luhrmann film and a wannabe Moulin Rouge that was so shitty the studio had to bribe Golden Globe voters to nominate it as a reminder of why you love going to the movies, well then maybe Green Lantern IS a must-see considering scale-wise it is better than those two films. We would just like to know where Warner Bros. dug up David Sheehan. Since his 2003 runner-up prize to Whore of the Year, Criticwatch hasn't seen much of the guy who once commented on the column by saying, "This is sooo mean. If anyone names me, fuck them." He then later said:

"A stunning movie experience." (I Am Legend)
"A celebration of the strength it takes to be different. Halle Berry steals the show with a sensational performance.” (X-Men: The Last Stand)
“The summer's first great comedy is here.” (Raising Helen)

Sorry, David, but fuck YOU. But there you have it. No screenings other than the junket and six quotes on the ads from whores who do not write the praise that they speak and occasionally even read them from a publicist's list. Hey, you want to change the perception Warner Bros., either dump the junkets or start inviting real critics to them. Not these:

"Summer fun goes green." - Patrick Stinson, Reelz Channel
"A wild ride. Stunning. The most action packed fun you'll have at the movies all summer." - Maria Salas

That's right. Reelz Channel, the cable network that actually gave Mark S. Allen his own show. Great quote, Stinson. Ironic that you polluted the film environment with it. But back to Mark S. Allen for a second. No, the usual WB whore staple isn't quoted on the ads (yet) but the tease for his show this week states:

"It may be the second Green super hero movie of the year, but it's worth the wait. Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds heat up the screen (even if it's just green screen) in THE GREEN LANTERN...they'll be answering your tough viewer questions!"

A high five to anyone who can get on live and ask Allen what it's like to constantly dry hump a studio. Then you can imagine Maria Salas doing it as she has done for years for Warner Bros. Yes, the woman who once called Nacho Libre "the perfect summer movie" has been a WB darling for a long time.

"A story that both kids and adults will truly enjoy." (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
"Great family entertainment." (Nancy Drew)
"One of the best sci-fi fantasy adventures since E.T." (The Last Mimzy)
"Amazing. Incredible. Heartwarming." (We Are Marshall)
"A rare gem." (The Time Traveler’s Wife)
"It will touch your heart like no other film this year. Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves are the best on-screen couple of our generation." (The Lake House)
"Grab your girlfriends and go see this summer’s most heartwarming film!" (My Sister’s Keeper)
"Sweet and romantic. A cool modern twist on the classic tale." (A Cinderella Story)

"Laugh-out-loud hilarious!" (Something Borrowed)
"A must see. A laugh out loud hilarious comedy. Crazy." (Hall Pass)
"Hilarious, laugh-out-loud funny." (Rumor Has It)

"Terrifying." (The Rite)
"Thrilling" (Fracture)
"Suspenseful and thrilling." (The Reaping)
"A spellbinding supernatural thriller." (Lady in the Water)
"Fantastic!" (Superman Returns)
"Heart-stopping action." (Batman Begins)
"Action-filled and exciting. Harrison Ford captivates you." (Firewall)
"An amazing thrill ride filled with twists and turns and a great cast!" (16 Blocks)
"A wild ride. Stunning. The most action packed fun you'll have at the movies all summer." (Green Lantern)

Maria Salas, ladies and gentleman. Her and Stinson ended up on the second round of Lantern commercials. But even more were on the way for the print ads on Friday:

"The must-see superhero movie of the summer. - Shireen Sandoval, FOX-TV
"Action-packed! Ryan Reynolds is the perfect Green Lantern!" - Rossiter Drake. The San Francisco Examiner
"Visually stunning. Reynolds soars!" - George Pennacchio, KABC-TV
"Tremendous fun and a great summer movie!" - Dan Jewel, Life & Style

Compare that to some of the negative reviews at Rotten Tomatoes:

"Green Lantern arrives and it's the dumbest superhero movie of the season." - James Verniere, Boston Herald
"You'll need superpowers of your own to survive this hell." - David Edwards, Daily Mirror
"An enterprise marked by an unlikable hero, patently unconvincing special effects and a muddled screenplay that chokes like LeBron James under the weight of giant gobs of raw exposition." - Peter Sobczynski, eFilmCritic

And that's just a taste of the 100+ negatives on hand for the film that currently ranks as the 14th worst-reviewed wide release of 2011. But this is who you have telling you to go see it.

"The perfect summer scare!" (A Perfect Getaway) – Shireen Sandoval, FOX-TV
"Poignant, incisive and proudly outrageous." (Sex and the City) - Rossiter Drake, The San Francisco Examiner
"...full of laughs, love and surprises." (Valentine's Day) - George Pennacchio, KABC-TV
"This phenomenally entertaining movie is better than front row seats!" (Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience) – Dan Jewel, Life & Style

But if you want the positive quote that is going to leave the true bad taste in your mouth is the one by VH-1's Carrie Keagan. If you haven't seen it yet, you may want to sit down. Or stand up as you might hurt yourself leaping out of your chair to run towards the nearest thing to kill it. Yes, this quote is so stupid, so ill-formed, so without forethought that breaking it down may cause your brain to swell to the size of Hector Hammond's. Ready?

"Star Wars meets Iron Man." - Carrie Keagan

WHAT???!!!!! When Keagan called Unknown "Taken meets The Bourne Identity" there was a modicum of sense to that. After all Liam Neeson was in Taken and Unknown is about a dude with memory loss that may have ties to secret agents. It's still a dumb quote with no originality to it that was probably listed in her press notes somewhere, but whatever.

When Keagan called The Rocker "Superbad meets School of Rock!" that was a bit dumber. Sure, The Rocker had Jonah Hill doppelganger Josh Gad (currently killing on Broadway's The Book of Mormon) and both featured young kids in bands. But Superbad was a very-"R" rated teen comedy about getting laid and The Rocker was a "PG-13" comedy about a drummer looking for redemption through his nephew's rock group. No one would ever confuse the two. Since quality comparison is not Keegan's strongsuit, Almost Famous or Josie and the Pussycats would have surely made a better match than Superbad.

But can you decipher what she is going for in calling Green Lantern "Star Wars meets Iron Man?" We'll take the second part first. OK, so I guess Hal Jordan and Tony Stark are both superheroes. Only Iron Man comes from the Marvel universe and the Lantern is from DC. Not that she was going for publication synchronicity anyway, but even she probably wasn't dumb enough to compare him to the best of the Batman and Superman films or the worst of Catwoman and The Spirit. So she picks the first superhero she can think of. Both have suits. One is man-made. The other ring-made. Both can fly, I guess. But Hal was more reluctant to his new powers while Stark used them first to survive and then combat evil head-on later. The two are not really comparable directly, but at least she's lost somewhere around the ballpark.

As for Star Wars? I don't know. Cause both movies are in space? The villain has a deep voice? What in the Sam Fuck are you talking about, Carrie? Is Kilowog supposed to be Yoda? Is it because of the rampant daddy issues in the film? Or just because the actor who plays Abin Sur also played Boba Fett's dad? The movie has way more in common with The Last Starfighter than any synonym of the words "Star" and "Wars." You have to stand up (in that PowerGirl outfit if you will, please) and explain what in the hell you are saying here in trying to sell this film to Star Wars fans. Then please shut up and never review a movie again - for Warner Bros. or any studio

"Sexy. Brilliant." (Sucker Punch) (Warner Bros.)
"The funniest movie of the year." (Hall Pass) (Warner Bros.)
"An instant classic. Hopkins is mesmerizing." (The Rite) (Warner Bros.)
"Will keep you on the edge of your seat." (Edge of Darkness) (Warner Bros.)
"X-cellent!" (The X-Files: I Want To Believe)
"27 more reasons to love Katherine Heigl!" (27 Dresses)
"Horror has a new name, and it’s Esther." (Orphan) (Warner Bros.)
"So hot, it hurts." (Zombie Strippers)
"It's the coolest thing I've seen." (Speed Racer) (Warner Bros.)
"Rocks from beginning to end." (Push)
"10,000 B.C. rocks!! It’s an adrenaline rush from start to finish." (10,000 B.C.) (Warner Bros.)

There's something amusing about a film where the intergalactic watch guards seek out the best and brightest to join their rank that then uses the worst of the worst to promote its cause. Even the two Petes (Travers and Hammond) went negative on Green Lantern. You couldn't get those two to agree like that on the latest Pirates of the Caribbean film, Something Borrowed or even Justin Bieber's Never Say Never. The three films they did both agree negatively on in 2011 is not a pretty list. Your Highness, Arthur and Sucker Punch. Two of them belong to Warner Bros. and now three when we count Green Lantern. Maybe in this film's case the whole idea of perception is a moot point. Doesn't matter when you screen it. Most critics will see it for the bad movie that it truly is while the same whores will give the studio precisely what they want.

So look out for Sony's Bad Teacher next week. Cause they are not screening stateside for most until Wednesday night as well.

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originally posted: 06/18/11 02:27:40
last updated: 06/18/11 02:55:26
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