Green Lantern

July 27, 2011 at 6:18 pm Leave a comment

Let’s start off my saying I’m a big fan of Green Lantern. So when reviewing this movie, the challenge is do I review it as a fan or as an average movie goer?Because I believe the two will have very different experiences while watching this movie. I can see how someone who knows nothing about Green Lantern would come away from this movie hurt and confused. While fans of the comic will come away less hurt and confused.

Green Lantern is a difficult character to explain to begin with. Hal Jordan was given a ring and a lantern by a dying alien. Thus he is recruited to be a part of  an intergalactic police force.  Unlike most super heroes, who fight villains on Earth, Green Lantern fights threats to Earth that are in Outer Space.  Because he deals with strange aliens and emotions represented by colored energy, Green Lantern is a little more difficult to grasp than you’re common hero. You know, the kind with super strength who knock out bank robbers in one punch. This movie did itself no favors when explaining material that is already difficult to explain. Vital pieces of information about how this world works are explained in one line of dialogue that you could have easily missed. Everything does get explained. It seemed too rushed though.

One of the prime examples of this is Hal Jordan’s training sequences. This should have been a major part of the movie. What little we do get was enjoyable. But it was done in such a rush that you are left feeling like Hal failed his training and is ill prepared for the threats he will face. Apparently, all you need to learn everything you need to know about being a Green Lantern can be learned in ten minutes.  If they had handled it like Batman’s training in Batman Begins, this movie would have been infinitely better. Instead, it looks like he was train improperly. Also, Kilowog, brilliantly voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan, gets a very small roll in this movie as a result of this lack of training. In the comics, this character is a very big deal and the main trainer of new Green Lanterns. Kilowog deserved a much bigger role given how well the character is played and that Hal Jordan needs training to learn about his new powers.

In comic book movies, the origin story can always be rocky. I think it’s most effectively done in movies like Spider Man. It’s important to have one strong villain with a clear goal. In Spider Man, The Green Goblin was his primary villain. Spider Man has many more powerful villains so it was important to match him up against an opponent whom wouldn’t overshadow the emerging hero,  yet still be a legitimate threat. In Green Lantern, they pair him up against two of his most power villains, Hector Hammond and Parallax. For the non-fan, it  probably doesn’t seem important. However, I think general audiences recognized that these villains were only half developed. Hector Hammond would have been a fine villain for this movie if he had some clear goals. As it stands now, he is just jealous of Hal Jordan and hates his father. Whether in original continuity or the Secret Origins comic which inspired much of this movie, Hector Hammond and his powers are not related to Parallax. So why have them intertwined? By saving Parallax for a later movie, they could have spent more time developing Hector Hammond, the b-love story, and other parts of the story that could have used more focus. As it stands now, there was just too much going on to follow or fully develop two villains.

When it comes to the performances, the actors really did an excellent job. My biggest fear going into the movie was Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan. Considering the characters Reynolds usually plays, I though he would be more suited to playing Green Lantern Guy Gardner than Hal Jordan. But to my surprise, he did a great job.  Even though this movie didn’t do well, I hope they make more so I can see him play this character again. He is very much what I imagine Hal Jordan is like when I read the comics. Peter Sarsgaard was good as Hector Hammond, I just wish the writers had done more with the character. Mark Strong as Sinestro was beyond awesome. He nailed that character.  He is something of the third villain in this movie. Sinestro is the leader of the Green Lantern Corps and seriously doubts Hal Jordan’s worthiness to be a Green Lantern. The movie would have been a lot better if it had just been about Hal Jordan earning Sinestro’s respect. That is what happens by the end of the movie but with the strong performances given by Reynolds and Strong, that could have been the whole movie, without the need for Parallax or Hector Hammond.  The voice acting on the CGI characters was pretty well done. I already mentioned Michael Clarke Duncan as Kilowog. Clancy Brown, The Kurgan from Highlander, voiced Parallax and did very well with the ten lines of dialogue he was given.  The noticable except to the good acting was Blake Lively as Carol Ferris. This was suppose to be a break out role for her. I really don’t think she took the material very seriously. She seemed bored most of the time. She comes off as very monotone and uninterested anything that is going on. It wouldn’t be such a big issue if so much of the movie wasn’t dedicated to  her and the love story. Considering Carol Ferris is suppose to be Star Sapphire later on, essentially a Purple Lantern with powers similar to Green Lantern but using Love instead of Will, I can’t imagine keeping this actress for this role. She may be a very fine actress. A lot of insiders seemed to think so prior to this movie. But this role might not have been right for her.

That brings me to the tone of the movie. We have two very different things going on in this movie and often they clash. There is the Earthbound love story vs introduction to an intergalactic police force with strange aliens on a strange alien world. Its very jarring when we go between the two. One minute Hal Jordan is in a bar talking with the girl about their complicated past, next minute he is on a strange alien world surrounded by odd looking creatures. One should have been dominate over the other. Instead they are given equal footing. The result is unsettling and strains the credibility of an already fantastic premise.

Finally, I noticed something about the theme of Green Lantern. The story they are trying to tell is the power of will overcoming fear. However, it was far more effectively told in Batman Begins. When you consider that Scarecrow was a villain who used a gas to generate fear and Parallax is a giant monster that feeds on fear to become more powerful, its hard to understand why Green Lantern was less effective. Surely, Parallax is more threatening given the description. The difference comes in how the writers handled the heroes. Bruce Wayne went on a long, complicated journey and intense training to overcome his fears, embrace them, become Batman and save Gotham City from a gas attack. Hal Jordan’s journey is a lot less clear. He seemed to have failed at his training. Sinestro insults him, telling Jordan that he reeks of fear. He turns away from his responsibilities at first.  We see other Green Lanterns, more experienced than Hal Jordan, consumed by Parallax with ease.  So why was Hal Jordan able to defeat Parallax and throw him into the sun? The only difference I see is that he was given a pep talk by his girlfriend. It just didn’t feel like he earned his victory. It felt like he won because he was the hero of the movie and suppose to win.

Green Lantern can best be called a wasted opportunity. Similar to Spider Man 3, they tried to do too much and the movie suffered for it. Those two movies are almost paralleled to each other, minus the stupid strutting down the street sequences.  They tried to fit too much into one movie and as a result, much of the characters and themes are under-developed. There are a lot of elements to make for a good movie. However, the movie fails to capitalize on these elements due to overwriting. I sincerely hope they make more Green Lantern movies because Ryan Reynold’s was so good in the role. Next time, they had better keep it simple stupid.


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