Review – Green Lantern
Yesterday’s dark stormy night was a perfect excuse to head out to see DC‘s attempt to kick start a third movie franchise with Green Lantern (but lets be honest I would have gone no matter the weather). Having just seen headlines of reviews, my expectations went from “nervously optimistic” to “low expectations.” Having heard of brutal reviews I was fully expecting this to be the “E.T. video game” of comic book movies, signaling the end of what’s become a summer movie tradition, the big comic book movie. I walked out of the theater with mixed thoughts, and pleasantly surprised.
Green Lantern is one of the top second tier DC comic book characters who’s basically a space cop who’s able to take his willpower and create objects and fly due to a ring left to him by a dying alien. When he’s not dressed in green, Green Lantern is fighter pilot Hal Jordan. In the comics he’s a cocky, straight laced character, who’s more arrogant and headstrong than anything. Knowing this I was a bit hesitant when hearing the news of Ryan Reynolds being cast as the character. He definitely has the look down, but his previous roles fall under the cocky/humor area. The movie rests on Reynolds’ shoulders just below the special fx.
The plot of the movie is probably the weakest part. Green Lantern must take on Hector Hammond and an evil entity called Parallax. The issue isn’t necessarily the plot itself, it’s pretty basic, it’s just the bad guys are too comical. Peter Sarsgaard does what he can with the character, and is actually pretty decent, but really, the character is a psychic with a giant tumor on his head. He’s kind of hard to not laugh at. Parallax is much better portrayed in the comic book, and in this movie gets a makeover akin to Galactus in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. It’s not an improvement. Why these two are the first baddies is only revealed in the highlight of the movie, an awesome post credit scene that left me giddy.
The movies is science fiction, more so than Batman or Superman and does it’s best to balance that with scenes on Earth and for some reason the humor that was added. This is a kids comic book movie, more so than DC’s other tent pole/pride, Batman. It’s a difficult thing to do and the movie almost pulls it off.
There’s a lot of things I’d have done different, the first being the tone and first bad guys, but for a summer popcorn flick, it’s not that bad. It’s a movie to see and the 3D added a little though not a whole lot. DC definitely aimed for a younger audience for this one, and it shows, but as an adult, there was still a lot I liked. Worth the cost of a ticket, but there’s definitely a lot of other movies I’d see first.
Direction: Directed by Martin Campbell who might be best known for rebooting the Bond franchise, the movie is decent. Most impressively the movie doesn’t suffer from quick action cuts like so many action movies. I actually think the direction was solid, with only some minor issues as far as some movements of the actors. But there’s a lot of CGI characters and special fx, which can be difficult to pull off, and I think Campbell actually did that quite well.
Acting: Reynolds was pretty close to Hal Jordan. Though he was a bit more humorous than I’d expect, he plays off the arrogant, cocky, ladies man quite well. Sarsgaard as Hammond was decent, he played the rejected/awkward nerd role well. Blake Lively as Carol Ferris was decent and probably the weakest of the bunch, to me she just came off as “too young” to be in the role she was. The strongest was Mark Strong as Sinestro. It’s clear a sequel will revolve around him (see post credits scene) and his acting and great screen time will likely make the sequel outshine the first movie.
Plot: The plot wasn’t necessarily the issue, it was the bad guys. I just wanted to laugh at them, and there just wasn’t a sense of danger or fear out of them. Hammond is a psychic/telekinetic with a large forehead and Parallax is Ultimate Galactus with some cooler effects. There was something that was just missing with them, probably because I didn’t care a whole lot about them. Maybe of the Hammond/Ferris/Jordan triangle was played up more and the movie just focused on that, it would have been better. But instead we have a spaz with some large forehead. I did enjoy Jordan’s growth into Green Lantern. There was a natural progression there and Reynolds played off the doubt well. The rest of the Corps. also received too little screen time. The sequel will clearly be focused on them, but it would have been nice to get me excited for that.
3D: The 3D in the beginning is fantastic as we’re given the history/backstory, but as the movie progresses it’s just not used. If all you’re paying is $1 for the 3D go for it, but I wouldn’t break the bank to see the movie this way.
Overall: Green Lantern reminded me as a cross between Superman Returns and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. There’s some solid small touches and there’s a lot going for it. What probably won’t get praise is the movie’s music and one particular scene that uses a few notes from John Williams Superman score. It’s a great nod. Overall, the movie is aimed at kids, but what’s missing is the magic I expect. Superman’s first flight, Iron Man learning to use his suit and Spider-Man’s first swing are iconic moments, there’s none here. Overall, it’s an enjoyable movie, but not a highlight.