TMP Reviews: Green Lantern

The Basics

In a universe as vast as it is mysterious, a small but powerful force has existed for centuries. Protectors of peace and justice, they are called the Green Lantern Corps. A brotherhood of warriors sworn to keep intergalactic order, each Green Lantern wears a ring that grants him superpowers. But when a new enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power in the Universe, their fate and the fate of Earth lie in the hands of their newest recruit, the first human ever selected: Hal Jordan.

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard
Written By: Greg Berlanti, Michael Green
Directed By: Martin Campbell

Green Lantern

The Delivery

I honestly do not know how to approach this review.  On one hand there were many things I was disappointed with in the film, but on the other I found myself still enjoying it.  It’s an odd conundrum and one that I’ve been contemplating pretty much since the credits started rolling.  But I will say this to start…I feel it’s worth seeing in the theaters.  Is it perfect?  Not at all, but there is a great element to it, and a very large entertainment factor that can’t be ignored.

As you read this, it’s important to remember that I have been a big fan of Green Lantern for a long time.  But don’t write that off.  I’ve found fans can be the most nitpicky on these comic book movies, and there are times where we can be more forgiving.  Either way, I still think you’ll find this review helpful.

Green Lantern

Let’s kick off with what worked. I really didn’t understand the critics who claimed the visual effects were flat or clunky.  Honestly, this is some of the best CGI around.  Oa looked absolutely amazing, and the shots of the thousands of alien Lanterns gathered together dropped my jaw.  The FX were stunning.  Hal Jordan’s suit came off looking way more natural than I ever expected, and after a few scenes I stopped thinking of it as a CGI render and as clothing he was wearing.  The aliens seemed very real, and although only two of them ever spoke, they appeared full of life, and not merely computer creations.  Nor did they seem cartoonish (which would have been incredibly easy).

Truly, any criticisms to the visuals seems like a stretch.  They pushed the boundaries of what’s been seen before and scored big with it.  The biggest problem with the effects stemmed from the fact that as gorgeous as everything was…you didn’t get to see it for long or enjoy it.  The filmmakers just kept coming back to Earth.  So we never really got the chance to enjoy the beauty of Oa or spend any time with the wonderful aliens they’d created.

Green Lantern

I’ve also heard many critics talk about the acting.  I for one liked it.  Peter Sarsgaard’s Hector Hammond was instantly creepy and memorable.  Ryan Reynolds was perfect for Hal Jordan.  I know many think he’d be a better Flash, but if you know the Hal Jordan character at all, Reynolds played it perfectly.  Mark Strong was easily one of the best parts of the film.  Every word Sinestro spoke, I was hooked on.  His speeches were perfectly inspiring and chilling.  I cannot put enough praise on his performance.  Hell, even Blake Lively did a pretty damn good job…and I just can’t stand her.  

Every actor did a really great job…Sadly they’re being blamed for the poor script writing.  I can tell you that none of the problems with the performances, stemmed from the actual acting.  Everything felt really good with the actors and characters, but the script just didn’t utilize them correctly.  Carol Ferris was relegated to the damsel in distress role, Sinestro just didn’t have enough screen time, and Hal Jordan couldn’t make up his mind.  On top of that, while I liked both Lively and Reynolds…they simply had no chemistry on scene.  It’s not that either of them did bad; there just wasn’t anything between them, so even the romantic parts seemed to fall flat, despite their best efforts.

Green Lantern

When it comes to Hector Hammond, I can’t decide if he was over-used or under-used.  It could really go either way, and once again it’s the problem with the script.  Ultimately…Parallax is the main villain in this movie.  That being the case, they focused way too much on Hector Hammond.  There is a lot of screen time used to set him up as a threat, but in the end he’s discarded as soon as Parallax arrives.  To that end, he felt like a complete waste, and I found myself wishing they’d used the screen time to focus on Hal training more on Oa, or the other Corps members trying to fight Parallax.  

On the other hand, Hector was incredibly brilliant to watch on screen.  And as much as they set him up, I found myself also wishing that HE had been the main villain instead.  If they had switched focus on him and made him the ultimate baddy in the film, I think the story would have worked much better.  Then they could have saved Parallax for an epic sequel.

And I think that’s the real problem with the film; they tried to go too epic too soon.  On the whole, I felt like I was watching two films instead of one; as if they crammed a sequel in here too.  Hammond feels like a starter bad guy.  The hero’s first hurdle before tackling the larger problems.  In that way, Hammond is perfect for the origin story, and he’s just strong enough to give Hal a real challenge, and something to overcome.

Green Lantern

Parallax is an epic villain.  Powerful enough to take on the entire Corps, as well as destroy entire planets with ease.  This isn’t something you’d normally expect a rookie hero to take on in his first rodeo.  It’d be like if Bruce Wayne took on the Joker as soon as he donned the cape and cowl.  These are things that really have to be worked up to.  It helps show a growth of the character.  

I actually liked Parallax in the movie.  I think he looked sufficiently menacing (if nothing like his comic book counter-part) and they set him up well….for a sequel.  I think that would have been the best.  Go ahead and establish him in this film, set him up as a the larger threat, but let Hal take care of Hector Hammond (essentially an agent of Parallax) in this film to develop his powers and THEN let’s take on Parallax in the next film.

Parallax

The script just tried to cram way too much into the film.  Instead of focusing on more of what made the film work, they chose instead to cram in more story than it could handle.  This made the movie feel disjointed and rushed; thus making the characters seem flat and undeveloped.  More attention paid to developing Hal’s powers and his understanding of them, more development of the Corps, and more Sinestro would have helped a lot.  But none of it could be done because there simply wasn’t time.

Speaking of which, there seems like a few scenes got cut on the editing floor that were really necessary.  While normally you can’t fathom these types of edits, while watching this film there were clear moments where I thought, “we missed something.  Something got cut”.  Like one scene when Carol realizes Hal is the Green Lantern.  Everything seems fine and dandy but then at the end of the scene she runs off crying.  For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why.  There was nothing in the conversation that could have caused this, so I felt like I was missing a key scene to explain that.

On top of that there’s the general lack of response by the public to the Green Lantern. I mean it’s almost as if these people see superheroes everyday and it was no big deal.  Again, feels like a scene or two is missing.

Hector Hammond

So, you’re probably thinking that with all of these complaints….why in the Hell did I say to check it out in theaters?  Potential.  That’s the biggest thing I walked away with from this movie.  It has tons of potential.  Sadly, this movie didn’t live up to all the potential it showed, but that doesn’t mean it can’t.  On the whole, I walked away wanting more.  I liked the characters (and the actors who played them), I loved the visuals, and loved the set up, so I’d really love to see another film.

Plus it was incredibly fun.  It’s honestly in the vein of the old school comic book movies; like the first Spider-Man and Batman.  There are lots of convenient things that happen in the plot (like Sinestro and the others showing up in time to save Hal, yet managing to miss the entire final battle) and some over the top dialogue.  But that’s pretty much true to form with the comics themselves.  This is a comic book movie in the truest form, and because of that it’s a bunch of fun to watch.

Green Lantern

It’s not a Dark Knight.  The realism of Nolan’s comic book universe just won’t work with this film (in fact it won’t work with a lot of comic movies so I think it’s time to stop trying), and so some audiences just aren’t prepared for something that is SO comic bookish.  

Despite all of the flaws and problems in the movie, I really enjoyed myself while I was watching it.  In the heat of the moment of the film, I didn’t worry about these issues, and was actually able to immerse myself in the film and have a bunch of fun with what I was given.  The humor is fairly natural and fits the character, the visuals and action was enough to keep me riveted, and the characters were worth seeing.  This movie had all the right elements for greatness, but a convoluted and over-crowded script kept it from reaching all that it could have been.

Green Lantern

The Scorecard

Acting – Once again, everyone gave solid performances and can’t be blamed for a script that didn’t use them properly.  

Direction – I’ll say that I’m glad Martin Campbell has already decided not to come back for a sequel (if there is one now).  While the direction wasn’t bad, and he did an excellent job of getting them through heavy CGI sequences, the choices he made about screen time and such just weren’t working. Besides which he admitted he wasn’t a Green Lantern fan – or even a comic book fan – when he took the job.  So let’s get someone in here who can fully appreciate all the material.

Writing – Like I said, this was the biggest freaking problem with the movie.  Too much crammed in, and not enough of what worked.  Too epic too soon.  

Sound – Nothing memorable about the soundtrack or music, but the sound effects for all of the constructs and stuff like that were spot on.

Visuals – Exceptional.  Like nothing that’s been seen or done before.  While there are a few times you can say a scene is too CGI, on the whole, they nail it.

Green Lantern

Overall

I had fun with this movie.  I enjoyed watching it, and had a lot of fun seeing all that it showed.  I just wished they would have focused on a few things, instead of stretching itself too thin.  There are problems.  Plenty of them.  But it is entertaining like any movie should be.  Don’t go in expecting greatness, like Dark Knight, and you’ll be able to see all of the potential this film had, and what the franchise can still do if given the chance.  Ultimately you will enjoy yourself while watching it, but walk away wishing it had done more.  

Green Lantern gets a 6.5 out of 10.  It seems low, but I assure you it’s worth seeing at least once.

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Loose Thoughts

– Wasn’t sure where to squeeze this in, but I felt like if Green Lantern had come out in 2001-2002 everyone would be talking about how amazing it is.  Not because of the visuals, but because it fits so perfectly in the brand of comic book movies from around then.

– The after/mid-credits scene is insanely cool for the fanboys…but it just makes no sense.  Honestly the way the story was going seemed like that scene should have been about 20 minutes earlier during the actual movie.  Story-wise it didn’t make sense where it was.

– Hal Jordan’s ‘hero voice’ was hilarious.

– Just like when I was reading the comics…I found myself wanting to punch the guardians right in the face.

-Jordan