Movies based on comic books and graphic novels have become a staple in the mainstream blockbuster crowd, with huge hits like Iron Man, The Dark Knight, and Watchmen. With more than 30+ comic book movies released in the last ten years, the genre has developed a sort of “Color-By-Numbers” method of making superhero movies: Pick a generic guy, give him powers, give him an adversary, make millions of dollars in the theater. While we all love to watch our childhood memories come to life on the silver screen, I’m not certain that every comic book hero needs a film. Is it just a matter of time until every hero gets his film counterpart? Maybe, we’ll get to see Crispin Glover tackle “Doctor Strange” and Rutger Hauer don an “Aquaman” costume. That was sarcasm, those would be terrible films.
(I’d like to say that I’m not an expert or previous fan of The Green Lantern character or comics. I’m not going to be judging this as a comparison between the comics and the movie, I’m just going to cover the movie. So, please don’t fannihilate me.)
Hal Jordan, a dashing test pilot/male model, is swept away by a green light when an alien crash lands on Earth. This light takes him to the dying Green Lantern, Abin Sur, who tells Jordan that he was chosen by a ring to be his replacement for the Green Lantern Corps. The Green Lantern Corps is an intergalactic (planetary!) group of guardians that harness willpower into constructable energy. Each of the 3,600 members takes a sector of the universe and becomes that area’s protector. Since the ring swept Hal off his feet, he has been chosen to protect Earth and the sector it lies in. The conflict of the plot lies in the escape of Parallax, an entity that preys on fear (the opposite of willpower) and is going to attempt to destroy the Green Lantern Corps. While I like the fact that Hal Jordan becomes part of a very impressive team, that is hardly played up at all in the film. It’s mostly just Hal being a big, green badass. You know, every superhero movie has a complicated back story and reason for being, but Green Lantern‘s opening scene is a 10 minute narrative explaining all of this. It kind of irks me to have to sit through a lengthy explanation of plot, when other movies let the plot unfold and subtly explain the back story during the rest of the movie. Also, for some reason or another, I couldn’t hear some of the dialogue. So, good luck understanding and remembering all of the names of the alien planets and characters.
The performances from Green Lantern are a very mixed bag. Ryan Reynolds delivers the same wise cracking, rule breaking character he has played in almost every movie. The Green Lantern’s love interest, Blake Lively, simply didn’t stand out at all. She could have been replaced with any other pretty girl or fair looking mannequin and nobody would’ve noticed. As you can imagine, that somewhat dampers the chemistry between Reynolds and Lively. What surprised me was the performance brought by Mark Strong, playing Sinestro. He had a believable fierceness and stern devotion that sold him as that character. Peter Sarsgaard played one of the villains, Hector Hammond. The delivery of the character was completely puzzling, leaving me to wonder if I loved it or hated it. He had such a blatant overtone of creepy and awkward, it almost lightened up the sinister scenes he was involved in. After thinking about it, I’m pretty sure I loved how he played Hector. Now, some of the side characters played by Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan went completely under the radar. While it doesn’t surprise me that Duncan took a small voice role, I was shocked to find out that Geoffrey Rush voiced a fellow Green Lantern. He voiced the character well, but it didn’t really matter due to the small number of scenes that he was in.
Like the acting, the effects in Green Lantern were hit and miss. While some scenes were very beautifully animated, others were laughably bad. An example of good would be when you first see Oa, the home planet of the Green Lanterns. It is quite an impressive sight with unique buildings and floating islands. It was an enjoyable change of scenery from the cities of Earth. My favorite example of the bad effects is immediately after you see Oa for the first time. When Hal learns to fly, there is a short flying scene with him and an accompanying Lantern. The entire background is CG, the other Lantern is CG, Hal Jordan’s body is CG, but then you have Ryan Reynolds’ real head making “Ooh” and “Ahh” faces right in the middle of the shot. It looked so bad, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There are numerous examples of bad effects, but it doesn’t really matter. If you’re a die hard fan or have an unbreakable suspension of disbelief, you’ll breeze right past these flaws.
To take a break from the negativity, Green Lantern did provide some exciting action scenes and genuinely made me interested in reading the comics to get a better understanding for the series. Since Green Lantern’s power is to create anything Hal can think of, it does make for interesting battles and action scenes. It was fun to see giant green fists flying, anti-aircraft guns appearing out of thin air and race car helicopters. With an after credits scene setting up a sequel, Green Lantern has got more potential to become a good series than some of the other comic based movies of late. On a stranger note, this movie had some of the worst haircuts I’ve ever seen. She-mullets, skullets, pompadours and even a Barracuda Jackson. I don’t know why a lot of characters were given such cheesy haircuts, but it definitely caught my eye.
In the end, Green Lantern…dies. I’m kidding, I’m just summing up. In the end, Green Lantern is a popcorn flick, trying to cash in on the summer movie crowd. While there is a great potential for Green Lantern to grow into a fun series of movies, this film puts the series onto shaky footing. Hopefully, Hal Jordan will return with a better sequel. Until then, we’re left with yet another mediocre superhero movie.
I give Green Lantern 3 “Hands-Free Drinks” out of 5