In Brightest Day, In Darkest Dawn, Beware Green Lantern’s Yawn…
The filmmakers behind Green Lantern have been all-too-quick to compare it to Star Wars. Unfortunately, the comparison is apt. Green Lantern is very reminiscent of Star Wars…Episode I… The Phantom Men’s Ass. For every visually interesting moment or action sequence there is an equally dull or juvenile exchange, and the movie is rife with bizarre gaps in logic.
I have to start by saying that I do not read Green Lantern and therefore know very little about how the film diverges from the comic. Because of this I went into the movie with very little in the way of expectations, but the movie still managed to disappoint me. Due to my limited knowledge of the Green Lantern universe, my major gripes are not with how good of a comic to movie translation the film is, but how underwhelming of a movie it is in general.
The Green Lantern Corps is an intergalactic peace keeping force who have harnessed the “emerald energy” of will as a tool to mete out justice. When one of the Corps’ elite members, Abin Sur, is attacked by a mysterious alien and mortally wounded, he begins searching for a replacement. He arrives on the nearest inhabited planet, Midgard/Earth, and sends his ring to seek out one who is worthy of the power and responsibility of being a Green Lantern. The ring chooses a test pilot, Hal Jordan (played with affable charm by Ryan Reynolds) and he sets off on a journey to the Lantern Corps’ home world to learn how to wield his new-found power. Hal is spirited away to Oa, a distant planet that is inhabited by the architects of the Corp and serves as a training ground for new recruits. The design of Oa (composed entirely of CGI) and its many inhabitants is one of the movie’s highlights. The whole training sequence where Hal meets other Green Lanterns and learns how to focus his imagination through his power ring to create “hard light constructs” is where the movie shines. This sequence lasts about ten minutes, then it’s back to Earth. We are only given a cursory introduction to the other members of the Corp and before we even get to learn anyone’s back-story, the film’s budget and creative steam runs out. When Hal returns to Earth, every single boring minute and frame of film is an exercise in paint-by-numbers (with lots of green paint) storytelling and every plot development is painfully predictable. The whole show just plain lacks creativity and that’s the real problem here.
We must hurry back to Earth before our budget runs out!
Hal’s Green Lantern power ring allows him to construct anything he can imagine and utilize it to accomplish various tasks. Apparently, a prerequisite for becoming a Green Lantern is to possess the dullest, most pedestrian imagination possible. Hal squanders his ring’s power to conjure a sword, a brick wall, a big fist, and a bucket of water throughout the film. Had the ring chosen…
With great cabbage, comes great responsibility…
a head of cabbage to be the newest GLC (Green Lantern Corp) recruit, I’m sure it would have been able to come up with some more interesting constructs (maybe a wall of coleslaw or a fist composed of coleslaw… perhaps a bucket of coleslaw). The effects are done well, especially the suit or second skin that the powering gives to its bearer. The suit actually looks different on the various races that make up the GLC. On certain aliens it creates an effect that looks like scales, on others it looks like a green hide, and on Ryan Reynolds it appears as a second layer of musculature. The suit flexes and moves with the characters and pulses with green energy. The CGI for the suit actually looks quite good most of the time, but there are a couple of weird moments where the effect doesn’t mesh with the live actor and it looks like Ryan Reynolds’ floating head with a CGI body underneath.
There are also a few subplots that are shoehorned into the film that never have a pay off. For example, there is a scene where Angela Basset’s character’s tragic back-story is shown as a flashback, after which she pretty much disappears for the rest of the film. While we’re on the subject of unnecessary characters and the overly talented actors who play them, Peter Sarsgard plays one of the film’s villains (Hector Hammond). Peter Sarsgard is an extremely talented actor but simply cannot keep himself from chewing the scenery then punching through its remains with giant ham-fists. It’s not really his fault, as he isn’t given much to do but scream and keep his massive head from lolling to the side like some rotting melon filled with… coleslaw.
Most epic comb-over ever!
Overall, I was just plain bored by the Green Lantern. I expected more from director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, Goldeneye, and the Mask of Zorro), who’s previous work I have really enjoyed. There may be a lot that was left 0n the cutting room floor that, when restored (much like DareDevil), would make for a more compelling and cohesive tale, but that’s no excuse for squandering the potential of a beloved franchise and the generosity of millions of fans. The most disappointing thing about the film is that it almost assures there will be no Justice League movie, and that Ryan Reynolds will never get to play The Flash (a character he has been attached to for years and one that would have been a far better fit for his talents). They do leave a few bread crumbs at the end of the film in order to leave the doors open for sequels, but I doubt anyone will care about what happens next.
Recommendati0n: Instead of watching the Green Lantern, go watch the Green Mile, or the Green Zone, or even the Green Hornet. Hell, I’ll even throw in Soylent Green as a throw-back. Wait ’till this flick hits Green-Ray, as hopefully there will be a Director’s Cut that restores some subplots and covers up plot holes.
The More You Know: Ryan Reynolds has had a tumultuous career as a superhero. He played Hannibal King in the disappointing finale to the Blade Trilogy, was cast as Wade Wilson/Deadpool in the awful X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and now has played Hal Jordan in the Green Lantern. At least he is trying to spread out the disappointment between both MARVEL and DC universes.
-Ryan Reynolds dated Alanis Morisette for 5 years. A little ironic, don’t ya think?
-Ryan Reynolds would have been the perfect choice to play Richard Rider in a Nova movie. (Nova and the Nova Corps are the MARVEL Universe’s analog of DC’s Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps). Even their names are similar!
-After doing some more research, I have found that the movie skews pretty far from the source material when it comes to several of the main characters and how they’re represented on screen.
-If you go see it, there is an extra scene after the credits.
A far better choice for a Green Lantern recruit. Even better than that head of cabbage from before…