Damn. I just realized how many comic book superheroes are in town this Summer, on all fronts. We saw Thor in May, and he was awesome. The X-Men came back, and they were awesome. Captain America is still to come, and heck, even Cowboys and Aliens is based on a comic series. In the realm of video games, we saw the ecstatic return of Cole McGrath, as well as the Cape Crusader taking the trip of his life into Arkham City in the near future. (Oh yeah, and Green Hornet was way back in January, but we’ll throw him in too.) And right in the middle of all of this is DC and Warner Bros’ Green Lantern. My first thought: YAY! A DC movie that’s NOT about either of the two most overused, overrated superheroes of all time. My second thought was more or less apathy. I have not read any of the comics, and only knew of him from a few cameos on the Superman Animated Series. Yet that was all the more reason why reviewing such a movie would be interesting, as my experience could not be hindered on preexisting expectations and knowledge of the source material.
With that being said, how does Green Lantern hold up smack dab in the middle of a summer with so much competition? Especially when said competition has been legitimately strong so far?
Green Lantern is the perfect example of a movie with some wonderful ideas and great aesthetics, but its execution is clichéd, disjointed, and just downright mediocre. The best example for me would be to compare it to the Star Trek reboot in 2009: tons of viewers adored that movie. It was probably the biggest hit that summer, and I won’t be surprised if the very same viewers enjoy this too. It just rubbed me the wrong way because they took this really out there, big idea movie, and then just made it okay. And a lot of the things that bugged me are real nitpicky things the general audience might never notice or even consider a problem.
All things aside, I felt this movie started fairly strong. We get a quick intro narration of the planet Oa and the Green Lantern Corps. While it may be pointless, as we learn all this throughout the movie anyway, at least it’s narrated by Geoffrey Rush, whom as I’ve already pointed out in my Pirates 4 review, is really good at spouting exposition and making it somewhat engaging. Anyway, we see the evil entity known as Parallax (voiced by Clancy Brown. So far, I’m digging the cast) escape from his prison. He attacks the Corps’ highest-ranking soldier, Abin Sur, who, mortally wounded, barely manages to escape in a pod and make a course for “the nearest inhabited planet,” AKA where-the-heck-do-you-think?
From there, it’s your standard origin movie affair: Hero discovers powers. Antagonist gains powers. Hero trains powers. Hero is reluctant of his own power. Girl motivates Hero. Antagonist captures Girl. Hero saves Girl/World/Universe. The End… sequel bait.
Let’s elaborate a bit on the finer details. To start, I do like Ryan Reynolds. There were a lot of people that had a problem with him playing Hal Jordan, and as I haven’t read the comics, perhaps I’m not fit to comment on that, but I thought he was fun, and his reactions to the events surrounding him felt genuine. It kind of reminds me of last year how everyone was against Michael Cera playing Scott Pilgrim (though that movie ended up being phenomenal). After the Wolverine movie pretty much butchered what could have been Reynolds’ most awesome role ever, I’m glad he got another chance at the comic book scene. Though I don’t think he was perfect, and I can see how he didn’t really fit in with the rest of the Green Lantern Cast, I thought that was kind of the point.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about the supporting cast.
I really liked all the Green Lantern Corps members. Our narrator Geoffery Rush turns out to play my favorite of the group, Tomar-Re, Hal Jordan’s official icebreaker. MCD plays MCD in the MCD role of Kilowog (though that’s not a complaint. He’s perfect for the role), Jordan’s boot camp instructor for a good five minutes. Then there’s Mark Strong’s Sinestro, the commanding officer of all the Green Lanterns. He was the one character, besides Hal, I really saw had a chance to have an extremely dynamic story arc that grew throughout the course of the movie. Unfortunately, nether he, nor any of the other Lanterns, get as much screen time as I would have wanted.
Remember in Thor how the title character had all those fellow gods in the Asgard scenes to play with? Sure they weren’t all too developed either, but at least they did SOMETHING throughout the movie that wasn’t training or exposition dumping. They were involved in a fair chunk of the action, something I can’t say for these guys. Not only that, at least two-thirds of the movie takes place on Earth anyway, and we are introduced to dozens of people that are part of Jordan’s everyday life, none of which are as interesting as the three central human characters in Thor.
Perhaps this can be attributed to the movie’s length: 1 hour 45 minutes. In retrospective, that’s pretty short. I almost think it’s unfair. How come Warner Bros lets Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, Superman Returns, and all the Harry Potter movies clock in at approximately 2 and-a-half hours each, and Watchmen at over 3, but Green Lantern gets less than 2? When you watch the movie, it definitely shows because the editing and the way it segues into separate scenes is far too choppy. It’d be like me going through all my nitpicks one after another, trying really hard not to spoil anything, and leave you, the reader, to try and figure out how they all connect.
- Ryan Reynolds’ performance as Hal didn’t bug me. What did was the direction they decided to take Hal’s character, which I like to call Iron Man Syndrome. We get it. Tony Stark pulled off the “Irresponsible-Playboy-turned-superhero” and made it a popular trope. Green Hornet did it. Bruce Wayne in Nolan’s Batman is doing it, even Charles Xavier did it in First Class (though to give him credit, he was pretty good). Well from now on, unless your actor is as good as RDJ, forget it. Go back to having awkward nerds and brooding vengeance mongers.
- How come the first time we see aliens, they are talking in an alien language, but then Parallax shows up and speaks English too them and from then on all the aliens speak English?
- So Hal Jordan and Hector Hammond (the scientist that gets infected by Parallax) have parallel scenes that show them discovering their powers at the same time. I do like this trope, especially when it was done in the first Spider-Man. But the way the editing jumps back and forth just makes it fell too heavy-handed.
- Why bother introducing so many of Hal’s in-laws at the beginning of the movie if they never show up again?
- Wait? Hal and Hector know each other? They were old friends? And we only find this out half way through the movie when it’s already established they’re on opposite sides? Why didn’t we introduce this relationship earlier? Why not replace the scene with the in-laws with a more appropriate scene with the two of them?
- There’s a scene in a lab where the Green Lantern suddenly bust into the fray to save the day. Okay cool and all but… how did he know what was going on at that particular place at that particular time? Does the ring have an ability to sense danger and we just never touched on that?
- P.S. scene with Sinestro: Um… did that happen in the comics? Because if it did, it was not built up properly. It felt really out of place and out of character. I was actually totally cool with the triumphant end of the movie, and instead of getting me excited for a sequel, it just kind of killed the mood and took any credibility the character had. Makes me want to…want to…
Well, this review has been kind of a downer. I want to clarify that while I did have problems with it, I don’t think the movie was completely worthless, though if I, someone with no preexisting notion of this franchise, just kind of sort liked it, I’m sure fans are probably furious with it. As I said before, all the Green Lanterns looked great and were very well cast; I just wanted to see more of them. The effects were hit-or-miss, but when it was good, it was really good. I loved how the Planet Oa turned out so vast and detailed and many of the Power Ring effects looked really cool.
So whether Green Lantern gets a sequel, or gets canned and subsequently rebooted in a couple years, color me intrigued [Pranger’s Note: If Green Lantern doesn’t bring in a significant amount of cash from the opening weekend box office, there’s no chance it’s getting rebooted ever]. My only wish is that in the future, Warner Brothers treats this franchise with the same level of respect and credibility it gives Batman, Superman, and Harry Potter, because lets face it, those three have maybe one more movie left in them each. You’ll need something new to bring in the green.
Lots of movies this summer! Find out what’s good and what’s not: