Green Lantern (2011) Review

I have to say there is a chance that lowered expectations may have played a part in how I felt about the Green Lantern movie, but I liked it. Am I losing touch? It’s around11% with the critics on that tomato site, right about now. Did the critics feel that they gave Thor a free pass, so it was just time to bash a superhero film?

Is it a film that will transcend  the genre? Um… no. It’s in the middle of the pack when it comes to my superhero genre standards. Is it flawed? Yes. Of course, I’ll get to that. Is it entertaining? For me… Yes. I had a good time. I’m sure most fans of the character will enjoy the movie to some degree.

The film’s strength is the visuals, mainly of the realizations of some of the aliens in the film. The Guardians were rendered well as were some of the main Lanterns like Sinestro. They used Mark Strong’s face as the basis, but altered his appearance to create about as close to a live action version of the character as you can get. They even added some texture to his skin including a noticable facial scar.

Mark Strong did a nice job voicing the character, but I always imagined him with maybe a higher pitched (more sinister) voice and he seemed to smile a lot in the comics, mainly when he was getting the better of Hal. Tomar-Re and Killowog were also nicely rendered. Tomar-Re (voiced by Geoffry Rush) appeared like he just stepped right out of the comics. I liked Killowog (Michael Clarke Duncan), too, but they re-designed his appearance for some reason.

I didn’t see the point in some of it, though, such as making the Green Lantern superhero uniform a CGI effect seemed like a waste of money to me. And spending the money to animate so many of the Green Lantern Corps. to do nothing more than stand there, while managing to omit some of my favorites (!!!) like Katma Tui, Arisia and Ch’p.

The story bounces from one sequence to the next. It begins with a group of spacefarers of an alien race that have crashed on a remote planet. Conveniently they crash in an area where the immortal villain, Parallax, has been imprisoned by the Green Lantern Corps. The aliens literally fall into the prison chamber and Parallax makes short work of them and frees himself.

Cut to:Earth. And cue the pop rock track as Hal (Ryan Reynolds) wakes up with  (gasp) his latest conquest and (double gasp) he’s late for work and (triple gasp) nearly wresks hs car he’s in such a hurry (yawn…).

When he gets there, his hot ex-girlfriend Carol Ferris(whose dad owns a robotic stealth fighter manufacturing business) is there to greet him with the typical irritated banter that you see in these kinds of films. He (and she) are to fly against two of her dad’s ‘error free’ robots to prove that… I guess that they’re error free. Hal quickly proves they’re not but using stunts that I would think would get him fired and facing lawsuits, but I digress.

Immediately after, an alien representative of the Green Lantern Corps. crash lands at the beach and Hal is whisked away in order to receive his power ring. In the original comics, this was more of a random thing. Abin Sur (the alien) could see that Jordan was worthy so he gave Jordan the ring because Sur was dying. I wonder if he had not been wounded and crashed, would have given him his one ring? That didn’t make sense to me and seemed like the writers were unnecessarily cluttering a simple and effective origin in the attempts of giving their ‘better’ explanations. Anyway…

Hal gets the ring and shortly afterwards discovers its power. He does curse a little and drink a bit to show that he’s a cool guy. Nowadays, EVERY single superhero must A) drink (check) B) prove they can curse, C)kill someone and D) either score with the ladies onscreen or attend a strip club in order to satisfy the juvenile developmentally challenged editors that are in charge of the Big Two comics companies. Superheroes…. They have a NEED to portray superheroes this way (or at least a combination of 2 or 3 of those) … But I digress… Again…. Sorry. “Ah rant, therefore ah am.”

I have to stop at this point and say that I DID like Reynolds in this. I have not liked him in the films that I have seen in the past.  He was likable here. He was as heroic as the script would allow. He looked more like my idea of Hal Jordan than I thought he did. He didn’t get too many laughs, but he definitely showed fire in the role when it was called for.

Blake Lively has been taking a lot of hits from critics for her role as Carol, but I wouldn’t be one of those. She is a GREAT actress as evidenced to me from her role in The Town. If she wasn’t nominated for awards from that film, she should have been. She was good in that. She was likable here, she just didn’t have a whole lot to do, except to look pretty, which she is. I always blame the director/editor for bad performances by actors (usually), but here the blame is in part, because of the script.

They try to get her involved a little, but again the sequence is so illogical (first she’s unconscious, then she’s awake like nothing ever happened to her) that it fails to muster any kind of audience sympathy… At least in the crowd, I saw this with, who mostly watched silently as the bright colors and headache inducing 3D FX flashed before them.

There is another villain that gets involved: Hector Hammond. He’s a high school teacher brought in by his congressman father to examine the body of the alien Abin Sur. Yes, you heard me right. You’d think the government would have people for that, but no. They do explain it a little and Peter Sarsgaard is one of the better parts of the movie. He seemed to keep appearing in 30 second to a minute scenes, but he made the most of it.

He plays the character as shrewishly awkward. It’s too bad they didn’t feature him more as the main villain, instead of a footnote or subplot. Some of the things that they set up with him,might have been more interesting than the one note monster cloud that Parallax is.

 I did like Hector Hammond’s updated appearance far more than what he looked like originally. Even with the great artist Gil Kane, Hammond always looked a little silly.

They condensed his captivity in his own body to one quick half minute scene or two. In the comics he sometimes was after Hal’s ring because it would give him the ability to move and they kind of did that briefly in the film.

The story was just adequate, nothing more. It was sometimes illogical, sometimes skipped over important stepping stones on the way to each new big plot development and it had a short memory. Part of the problem was that the basis for a lot of this was from the Green Lantern of the 1990s. If there is one decade that  produced the least in terms of story quality it would be the 1990s. The 90s era in comics was a dark one. Comics creators like to blame speculators for the lenticular, golden foil, die cast, triple fold, glow in the dark, scratch and sniff covers and gimmicks that was heaped onto the comics reading public at that time. They chose that garbage over actually trying to come up with good stories. This was the era of a guy breaking Batman’s back (literally) and Batman recovers better than ever, Superman dying, four Superman imposters running around and everyone’s favorite Green Lantern going insane and killing people. The creative black hole that was the 1990s was the fault of the creators, not outside forces.

The main villain of the film, along with some of the new ‘mythology’ is from when I believe DC was trying to repair the damage that one of their idiot writers caused to the character. Some of the weakest parts of the film comes from the whole green willpower hooey and the yellow fear bunkum. I think the writer was trying to be deep.

That’s no less hokey in my eyes than the original idea that the Lantern’s rings were ineffective against the color yellow just because of a ‘necessary flaw in the construction of the Lantern power battery’. Anyway Parallax was an entity created to try and explain the fact that they stupidly wrote Hal going insane and killing people. Parallax  is a GIANT step up from the ‘space dust Galactus’ of the second Fantastic Four film, though.

Here was one of the many gaps in logic, though. Clearly there are thousands of Green Lanterns, but instead of sending them all out to defeat the evil force that was destroying entire worlds (and billions of victims), they send Sinestro and ten others… And if they didn’t send Ch’p, clearly the Guardians aren’t serious in eliminating the problem. This adds to another weakness of the film; giving the audience a reason to care. There are four  unnamed Lanterns killed by Parallax in this assault (which I think added to the total of four others that were killed earlier including the Lantern that gives Hal his ring), yet they’re only shown from a distance, so there’s no real reason to care about them when they die. They’re extras. Collateral CGI FX damage. Nothing more. So after one half hearted attempt at taking the creature out, they quit, apparently hoping the problem will just go away.

They also skipped  what would normally be ‘set-up’ in other films. The writers (of which there was a small army) wrote this as if they either had Attention Deficit Disorder or trusted that the audince would be filled with sufferers of the syndrome. For example, when Abin Sur goes in search of a human to recruit, there’s not even a scene where Hal sees a crash and investigates or anything like that. The ring just magically grabs him and takes him where he needs to go. Or when Hal gets to the center of the universe, the planet Oa, there’s not really an initiation/introduction as much as a half hearted stab at scenes we’ve all scene in better films. Compare this training sequence to that of Batman Begins.

There are other plot threads that seem to be in the movie to set the story up later, but a lot of them are just abruptly abandoned. There is a completely unnecessary (sequence (to the story), where Hal’s extended family reacts to his nearly dying in a plane crash. Then there’s another scene with the nephew as if this will be an important character. No. The fact that they’re angry at him seemed a little illogical, also. Most people would have reacted with the relief that he wasn’t killed. He IS a tets pilot, right? That’s his job. It’s dangerous.

Soooo, in short: FX great. Story not so great, but tolerable. Actors were pretty good with what they had to work with. Does it live up to what I would have hoped for? No. But, it is a little better than the insane critical backlash against it. You’d think there were politics involved. I can’t explain why so many have blasted this film. In my mind, it’s better than the recent Marvel outings Thor and X-Men First Class. But see for yourself and let me know what you think.

3.5 of 5

And stay through about a minute or so into the credits. This guy pops up again…. Oh and if you’re just surfing the net, please take a look at me drawing alien Green Lantern Killowog:

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