Every generation, nay more so decade has a genre of film that they overdo. Remember the ’60s were littered with Westerns featuring the likes of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. The ’70s were the time of the mob movies where men like DeNiro, Duvall and Brando became more like household names than they were. The ’80s had the love fetish for the action flick that turned so-so to even awful actors like Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold into superstars. The ’90s saw the love of Tom Hanks blossom into an unhealthy obsession with handing him awards. Our current generation has two big loves, the oversaturation of comic book films and remakes. Go down this years block buster list and excluding sequels we get how many comic films? Thor, X-Men: First Class, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Green Lantern, Captain America: The First Avenger, Cowboys and Aliens. And that is all just from May to July. Now the problem of late has been DC properties have been a bit sloppy excluding Batman but Marvel has got it’s shit together. Seriously, so if the skeptics were a bit what skeptical during the first screenings of Green Lantern would you be surprised?
Before I dive into the full length review let me explain what exactly Green Lantern is. It’s an intergalactic police force of aliens from all over the universe who have harnessed the power of will. Yes, will, and it’s emerald green. It is a great honor to be chosen to be a green lantern and they have one big enemy, it’s name is Parallax and it is yellow, aka the power of fear. Well not really their only enemy but you get the picture. The comic series was first published as Green Lantern in the 1940’s and featured what was called the Golden Age and Earth’s lantern was not Ryan Reynold’s character who didn’t appear until the 1960’s.
The film starts off with a narration explaining what the Green Lantern Corp is for those not familiar with the comic series as a group of explorers find what eventually becomes Parallax as it absorbs their fear and is able to escape. We get a cut to Abin Sur who happens to be the Lantern who imprisoned the evil power on a planet in what is known as the Lost Sector. Well it comes and literally rapes the living crap out of him and he goes off to find the replacement for the ring….on Earth.
Meanwhile Hal Jordan our hero is a brash young fighter pilot who throws caution to the wind. He’s irresponsible. He’s immature. As we can tell just from the first time we see him on screen. Sleeping with an unnamed woman. Being late for work. Wrapping a present while driving recklessly in his nice retro Mustang. We get the picture. He ends up breaking the rules of engagement and could cost the company a huge military contract. Yeah well Tony Stark wouldn’t do that now would he?
Eventually we get the gist of Jordan as he is an all about me, youthful and handsome individual (hey Ryan Reynolds is attractive). He gets called by the dying alien to take the ring and the oath. Meanwhile he begins to question everything about his own life after encountering the alien and the maturation of the character begins. After he leaves the alien’s body behind the stereotypical happens. The government picks up the alien and they examine it. Turns out some of parallax was in the alien and it goes into this scientist guy who is real meek and well just a guy who looks like on the side he does little children. Case closed.
Jordan tries winning back his love interest Carol Ferris and apologizes for a whole slew of stuff. Of course since Jordan didn’t think about his actions during the test of the new military weaponry it cost a bunch of people their jobs, this wasn’t explained until after he started getting the crap kicked out of him for no real reason until they say it. After he uses the ring’s power for the first time he is whisked away to the planet of the Lanterns. Here he gets the training he needs from a fishy guy (Tomar-Re) and a doggy like guy (Kilowog). Of course Sinestro takes him on a super crash course and essentially Jordan does what always does, quits.
It takes an attack by Parallax (Hector Hammond began to mutate or something like that) on Carol and an entire party for him to realize what he needs to do. Sinestro meanwhile encounters the immortal guardians and asks them for their help to defeat this evil, they then tell the creatures origin story, as it used to be one of them that tried to harness the power of fear. This lead to Sinestro saying that they should use it to defeat this evil before it comes to them to wipe them out. Jordan comes to terms with everything and requests the help of the guardians to stop it and they say essentially to fuck off. Jordan ends up saving the day on his own defeating Parallax by lobbing him into the sun. Sinestro then accepts Jordan as a Lantern. End credits. Brief scene that essentially sets up the sequel.
So how was the movie? Pacing problems and effects problems aside it wasn’t bad. I’m not saying that because I am being paid to. I’m not saying it because I love the comics. No. I went in with exceedingly low expectations. This is not a Marvel Comics film. Those have high expectations, those are tough to pull off. With the track record of DC over the years only Batman has left a wonderfully delicious taste in my mouth. So let’s dissect the film some more shall we?
The directing was a bit spotty. But then again the director (Martin Campbell) has moments where he is phenomenal (Casino Royale) and moments where you want the film to end now (Beyond Borders). He doesn’t do an awful job with what he has. No, he knows how to direct action well, see Casino Royale, Goldeneye, Mask of Zorro and you’ll see what I mean. While most action films are choppy and very bad for those with motion sickness these days during fight scenes this one maintains the basic standard camera stays still, it’s scripted and you know it, it’s not like you are in the action.
Next up let’s tear apart the acting. Ryan Reynolds I still feel was a bit of a miscast in this film but not enough to actually hurt the film. He has shown signs of maturation through his recent films and I always like it when a comedic actor goes and does a serious role. The problem for him was more the script than anything. The film seems like it was written for Reynolds and not for anyone else. I want to see Reynolds actually be a super hero not play himself in green tights. He did a great job though showing how a person can change thanks to traumatic events and other such things. While his supporting cast for a super hero movie didn’t seem as amazing as say any of the Batman movies it wasn’t awful.
Blake Lively as the love interest was just flat out awful. She tried too hard to steal some of the screen from her male lead and delivered lines like they were the flattest liter of Mountain Dew you would have ever had. I didn’t believe in anything she said and I kept praying that Parallax would eat her and that would be it. She’s the cancer of the acting in this film. As I sat there and watched her unconvinced that she didn’t love Jordan and then that she loved him just made me think what if there was a real actress in there, and to top it off she’s not attractive!
Peter Skarsgaard as the meek and mild scientist Hammond was a shocker casting for me. I have seen him in mainly award winning or nominated style of films and he’s not a bad actor to say the least, but the thought process here is hey let’s cast a good actor to play the minor villain in a super hero movie see how it plays out actually worked for them. He was way better than Lively but he didn’t try to hog the screen away from Reynolds. That’s the smart move there, most of the people who are seeing the film are there for Reynolds and not this funny named fella.
Angela Basset and Tim Robbins, both actors that had at one point relatively decent sized names, play small roles that seem almost slightly forgettable and that isn’t necessarily their fault. The script didn’t call for intense acting or even depth from their shallow and eventually murdered characters.
Meanwhile voice actors Geoffry Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan do what they can to salvage their characters. Tomar-Re who is voiced by Rush seems to lack a vast majority of depth to his lines but then again if you think about how hard voice acting is and then think has this man done it at all and then you realize he was the bloody pelican from Finding Nemo then you can’t forgive him and wish he actually sounded a bit more well mentory. Duncan has one of those voices that by default is rather intimidating and the added effect to it in the post process really made it stand out and not be a bit off like Rush.
But what about Mark Strong as the well foreshadowed evil in a sequel? He was great. The comic book fans know Sinestro puts on the yellow ring and is evil and becomes Hal Jordan’s worst enemy etc… it was well played out by Strong through the film. As you sit there and watch him deliver his lines with traces of hate, jealousy, and other nasty words that you would use to describe bad guys but he was great and I look forward to him being a bad guy in the sequel.
Now on to the scripting. It was okay. Needless to say there were pacing problems where at times it felt like the film flowed and breezed real fast. Skimming on important things and just taking a giant shit and staying on dull needless things for too long. This is partly director’s fault and mainly the writers. They tried to fit so much into the movie on it’s own without really thinking about the viewers. Sure the film does a large dose of fan service to the comic book aficionado but what about the casual fan? Doesn’t matter they’ll say, it’s got Ryan Reynolds. The dialogue at times was one of the worst I had seen in a while in a super hero movie and I just thought about some of the worst ones and it was okay. Not amazing. The big thing here is that this movie tried to be serious, I don’t think it wanted to be campy like Thor which is a bit scary if you think about it a little bit. Needless to say this could have been better.
Another negative about the film was the effects. Sure some of them looked amazing (the aliens) but some were just make me throw up awful (the suits). What they did for the actors in the film that weren’t 100% CGI was put them in a grey skintight suit and CG’d the costume on top of them which lead to a bit awkward looking characters mainly in Sinestro and Jordan. This became more and more obvious that they messed up when in some shots there was evidence of black in Jordan’s uniform and then others it was all green. This really got to me. Some of the constructs Jordan made with his ring were pretty neat but others just were bland and lifeless. It doesn’t surprise me that they beefed up the budget with 9 million extra dollars but even still the effects might have been some of the worst in the movie and this was put out in 3D? I mean really?
In the ultimate summary, if you go in with little to no expectations for a DC Comic film based off of one of their bigger franchises you’ll leave at least entertained. If you have a deep love for the corp you may just want to go refund your ticket now. It’s a fun entertaining feature that doesn’t require you to think too much into it but just enough to understand the complexities of it all which is still not that much. Ryan Reynolds has potential to be an actual super hero actor but it gets lost in a bad script and mediocre effects. I hand the corp what might be the most nicest score it has gotten giving it a nice solid C, or in better terms a 7.5/10.