The Future on the Cheap

In an odd way, Green Lantern is conceptually what I want to see more of in superhero movies, even if it doesn’t completely fulfill the promise of science fiction. It’s a story about a world opening up beyond our comprehension, that places humanity within a greater context. The dialogue looks reasonably snappy here, and it seems like the movie will have a sense of humor. But oh, does the movie look visually awful:

My first thought was that it looks cheap, though that’s probably not exactly right. The budget’s a reported $150 million, isn’t tremendously high for something that’s going to involve this many effects shots, only $10 million more than the budget for Captain America: The First Avenger. But I wonder if the sweep of the story (or at least the story’s conceptions) and the budget just don’t match up in this day and age. If we’re going to see this many different things, we expect them to look good, as James Cameron’s conditioned us.

This is one of the problems of telling good stories about alien civilizations or human advancements—the pace of scientific progress and the changes in how we live that accompany that progress are now so rapid that images of the future aren’t an impossible dream. They’re conceivable, and so it’s not enough to put something slapdash on screen and expect audiences to sign in wonder. As our imaginations have expanded, so has the need to produce something truly exciting to stimulate them.