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Green Lantern

Posted by Luke Brown On June - 16 - 2011

I consider myself a pretty big Green Lantern fan. I’ve been reading the various Green Lantern comics faithfully for more than fifteen years. Imagine my excitement when Warner Brothers and DC Comics announced they’d finally be bringing GL to the silver screen. Sadly, that excitement was completely wiped away by my experience at the movie theater this week. While Green Lantern isn’t anywhere near as terrible as Ghost Rider, Punisher: War Zone, Batman and Robin, or Elektra, the film doesn’t just struggle to be coherent, it also has a hard time just being fun.

Green Lantern
Directed by Martin Campbell
Written by Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim, and Michael Goldenberg

Now before we really get into what’s so wrong about this movie, I want you all to know that I’m not the type of comic fan and movie-goer that condemns a film immediately for straying from the source material. When adapting comics (or any literary source for that matter), there are going to be plenty of changes made to the core story in the film. That’s fine. I have no quarrel with the four writers of Green Lantern for taking some liberties with the original material. I do however take issue with four different professional writers being unable to give Green Lantern a coherent or engaging plot or any form of real characterization.

This interpretation of Hal Jordan’s origin begins with Abin Sur crashing on Earth. The alien has fatal injuries caused by the villainous Parallax, and must find a successor to his position as Green Lantern of sector 2814. Hal accepts his responsibility begrudgingly, and is soon transported to Oa to begin his training. There he meets a handful of other Lanterns who aren’t so sure a human has what it takes to be a member of the Green Lantern Corps. Hal’s biggest detractor is Sinestro, a close friend of Abin Sur’s, who doesn’t believe Hal is worthy of the ring at all. From there the movie takes more than a few predictable turns as Hal returns to Earth, grows into being a hero, and ultimately saves the universe.

What upset me the most about this film was how uninspired and by-the-numbers the plot was. There wasn’t a hint of originality in the entire script, and many of the major beats of Hal growing into the hero we comic fans know and love fall incredibly flat. It’s a real shame too because there are moments when you think that the movie is going to get on track, but those hopes are soon dashed by the need to quickly progress from plot point to plot point as fast as possible. That’s not to say Ryan Reynolds isn’t given time to be Ryan Reynolds. There are plenty of zingers and one-liners for the man to deliver, but even those are so predictably bad that the writers, especially Marc Guggenheim, should be ashamed. That said, I was one of the few people not laughing when the movie wanted me to laugh, or shouting in excitement when the movie wanted me to. I guess the general movie-going public will eat this film’s blandness right up.

Green Lantern also doesn’t have a very strong supporting cast. Now I’m not going to put the lack of memorable characters all on the actors. Some of the blame also lies with the writers here, but it appears that like so many actors that came before them, those appearing in this film have a very “Whatever. It’s a comic book” attitude. I suppose I could place all of the fault of Carol Ferris being nothing more than vapid eye candy on the writers for believing that just because she’s a pilot and in charge of a business that she’s a strong female lead, and therefore they don’t have to write her as compelling or smart, or give her any kind of characteristics other than hotness. That would be unfair, as Blake Lively seems to have gone to the January Jones school of acting, and delivers each line with such indifference that it’s awkward and uncomfortable to watch. To say she has any chemistry with Ryan Reynolds whatsoever would be a lie. The relationship they share is completely one-sided, and exists solely for the purpose of progressing plot.

The bigger waste though is Mark Strong. Oh what great casting it was to put Mark Strong in the role of Sinestro. It may have been a bit on the nose, but the man has proven countless times before how brilliant he is in any role. Why the writers decided that Sinestro should be in the movie as little as possible is beyond me. I’d be shocked if you managed to compile a montage of Sinestro clips from the film that was longer than the trailer for this movie. Completely wasted, and the only real purpose he serves, and this should not come as a spoiler to anyone, is to set up the sequel. Nowhere in this entire film is there a single hint of any sort of rivalry between Hal and Sinestro. Nowhere in this entire movie is there the slightest indication that Sinestro is the type of person that will turn evil. Mark Strong does his best, but with what he’s given there really isn’t much to work with.

SPOILERS (skip down below to avoid some heavy spoilage)

As the film portrays Sinestro, the casual viewer would have no idea that he eventually turns bad. However, that doesn’t stop the writers from including a post-credit sequence in which Sinestro dons a yellow ring of fear, and turns evil instantly. They couldn’t even bother including Sinestro’s turn to the dark side in the actual film. They had to put it after the credits, where a great deal of people in the theater missed it. More importantly though, IT MAKES NO SENSE. The character is still good, and actually welcoming towards Hal during the finale of the film. It’s sloppy, cheap, ineffective, and though the writers are clearly including it as fan-service, that’s all it is. It’s there for die-hards to get excited about a sequel, yet for the casual person it’s extremely unclear as to why it even happens.

END SPOILERS

I got to see the film in 3D, though I wish I hadn’t. I have a feeling the effects will look much better in 2D. The constructs look cool, and and for the most part, the movie has convinced me that a completely computer-generated suit actually works. The 3D is pretty pointless in the actual film, and really is more of a distraction than anything else. Green Lantern is also missing a real theme. Superman has one. Batman has one. Even the Flash got a real theme. Here though, there are some hints of a knock-off Superman theme, but nothing I could repeat to you once I left the theater. As far as scores go, that means this film’s composer (James Newton Howard) has completely failed the audience and character. Green Lantern is supposed to usher in a new wave of DC movie properties, yet he’s not even good enough for his own music. Pathetic.

Despite all of those complaints, Green Lantern still manages to be better than the worst of Marvel’s B-List character films. That’s not saying a whole lot given the recent success of films like Thor, The Dark Knight, and Iron Man 1 and 2, but at least it isn’t a complete and utter piece of garbage. That’s about the nicest thing I can say about a movie for which I’ve been waiting half of my life. And believe me, my expectations were set fairly low. I was not enticed by the trailers, and really was holding all judgment until I got to see the final product. I’m glad that there was finally a Green Lantern movie that made it to theaters around the world. Ultimately though, it’s a pretty big disappointment, and I’d rather watch the animated feature Green Lantern: First Flight again. That’s a far superior film on all fronts, and you’d do well to check that out after you see the live-action flick.

DC and Warner Brothers still have a long way to go if they hope to capture the feeling and fanbase the way that the Marvel movies have, and I hope they get it right eventually. Right now though, Green Lantern is going to be overshadowed by bigger and better films from the comic publisher’s main rival. Whether or not everyone involved is able to learn from this movie’s mistakes and create a competent and appealing sequel won’t be known for quite a while. In the meantime, we’ll all just have to cross our fingers that Christopher Nolan can end his Batman trilogy with the style and grace not afforded Green Lantern.

58 – Mediocre.


1 Response so far
  1. The Quarter Bin » Blog Archive » Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Said,

    [...] sure what to expect. While the film definitely makes better use of the technology than some others in recent memory, it’s often very subtle, and there are times when it’s hard to tell if it’s even there. A few [...]

    Posted on July 12th, 2011 at 9:27 AM

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