Jul 4, 2011

[Movies] Green Lantern (2011)

Green Lantern (2011)I became a Green Lantern fan shortly after Kyle Rayner took over the role of Green Lantern after Hal Jordan went mad and became Parallax - at least in terms of the comics. So yes, I was one of those who fell prey to the classic marketing gimmick of rebooting the comic with a new protagonist in the lead.

Green Lantern didn't always seem like a cool character to me - probably because I felt the concept of the power ring felt too much like magic. Plus it was insanely powerful and entrusting an individual with that kind of flexible might seemed wrong to me. But regardless, he's come a long way from his campy construct days to the rather expansive cosmic police force that they've become in the comic books.

When they announced the production of a Green Lantern movie, I felt the same skepticism we all feel when it comes to a new comic book movie franchise being established. It's a combination of skeptical excitement mixed in with irrational fear - I'm sure the geeks in the audience know exactly how I felt at the time.

But was it as bad as the critics presented it to be? Well that's hard to say right off the bat...

Green Lantern is the 2011 superhero science fiction action movie (say that ten times really fast now) based on the DC Comics hero of the same name. The movie was directed by Martin Campbell, who also directed movies like Casino Royale and The Mask of Zorro.

More or less in line with the original comic book lore, we're first introduced to the origins of the Green Lantern Corps itself. Thus we get the Guardians of the Universe coming together to harness the green power of will to create a peacekeeping force to maintain order in the universe. Unlike the comic, apparently the Corps had to face off against the fear-created entity known as Parallax (Clancy Brown), who was ultimately defeated and imprisoned by Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) of Sector 2814. But now Parallax as escaped his prison and his slowly gaining strength as he makes his way towards Oa, home of the Corps. Abin Sur has a brief encounter with the entity and is fatally wounded. With the last of his strength, he manages to launch an escape vessel and is brought to the nearest habitable planet - Earth.

There we meet Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), a cocky test pilot working with Ferris Aircraft who is a poster boy for irresponsibility. Hal continues to deal with personal issues regarding the death of his father, who was also a pilot. These issues spring up at inopportune moments, like in the middle of a demonstration of new automated fighter planes for the US government. Eventually he gets selected by Abin Sur's ring to become his successor and before anything can be properly explained, Abin Sur dies and Hal is left with a green ring and a strange looking lantern.

Thus we follow Hal has he comes to terms with his new powers as granted by the ring, his training to be a proper Green Lantern with the help of fellow lanterns Tomar-Re (Geoffrey Rush) and Kilowog (Michael Clarke Duncan) while Sinestro (Mark Strong) continues to look down on Hal given he seems an unworthy successor to his friend Abin Sur's ring. Sinestro continues to lead the Lanterns in their efforts while Parallax moves steadily closer and Hal just tries to figure out how to get his act together as the first human Green Lantern.

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 31:  Actor Ryan Reynolds...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeFirst, I'll admit that I have a bit of a thing for Ryan Reynolds. I've liked him ever since Two Guys and a Girl and I've found even more reason to like him ever since he bulked up for movies like Blade Trinity and Amityville Horror. So the prospects of seeing him in a skin-tight, CGI-enhanced Green Lantern costume on the big screen = totally worth my ticket money. I didn't even bother with the 3D - I didn't need to deal with the slightly darkened tone of all 3D movies at this point. And I enjoyed the added bonus of the gratuitous shirtless scenes they subject him too, ESPECIALLY the totally unnecessary "imprinting process" that required him to be in the skimpiest pair of alien underwear ever conceived. Good job.

With that out of the way, it's hard to say how I felt about Reynolds as Hal Jordan. From a comic book perspective, Reynolds penchant for humor always made him seem more like Kyle Rayner to me as opposed to Hal Jordan. In terms of just the movie, he did pretty decently as the protagonist although some of the emotional dramatic moments felt a little cheesy. Reynolds does have this adorable little puppy dog look he's mastered in his romantic comedy movies, but it felt weird to see it every time he started getting scared. The funny bits were fine - we're all used to his particular brand of dead pan sarcasm. But the drama definitely needed work.

Mark Strong was awesome as Sinestro, although in typical comic book movie fashion it seemed ridiculous that no one else realized his potential for evil. But he's not the villain here - instead we get the deformed Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) and the floating head Parallax. Sarsgaard was clearly just enjoying himself while making the most of a badly conceived movie version of his character. Parallax was just sad - a far, far cry from his original comic book form. Instead of a ferocious embodiment of the power of fear, we got a bobble head floating in a cloud of black whatever traveling across the galaxy.

What's with these black cloud / tentacle monsters? Why is it that when asked to make an awe-inspiring cosmic villain, Hollywood delves back into their memories of tentacle porn? Thus bad memories of the ridiculous black cloud known as Galactus in Rise of the Silver Surfer and and the precision nanobot cloud in the 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. BLACK CLOUDS ARE NOT SCARY. Fear is not embodied by an old alien that makes me think of Mars Attacks!

On the special effects front, the movie had a lot going for it. I felt the CGI recreations of the various alien Lanterns were pretty awesome. Prostheses and animatronic costumes would have been, but in no way would that have been cost effective given the size of the Corps. The various energy constructs were pretty cool too and their decision to give the constructs "weight" in terms of how they're formed was a nice touch. Oa was okay for the most part, although I wish it had been more green. And I wish the Lanterns actually had the civilized nature to meet in an actual building instead of some weird cave.

But seeing Ryan Reynolds floating head amidst CGI-rendered Lanterns and environments was a tad weird at times. I appreciate the lighting effect they created for him, but the lack of seamless-ness between his suit and his head made things feel a tad awkward at times.

The story definitely could have been better. It started out pretty well, but then got lost when we had to deal with Hal Jordan being a whiny bitch. Lanterns are supposed to be able to overcome fear - instead we had him overcoming daddy issues. Heck, everyone had daddy issues in this movie. Hal was stuck in the shadow of his father's premature death. Hector was caught in the shadow of his overbearing father. Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) was in the shadow of her own hair...or the shadow of her dad being the owner of the company while she's just a pilot.

The story went in too many directions and ended up with a very weak third act. Everyone overcomes their daddy issues (except for Carol apparently). The expected big fight against Parallax had a lot of fun moments, but clearly wasn't all there. And the Guardians of the Universe still decide to spend all their time on pillars without a roof or walls.

Green Lantern is a fun movie and not your run-of-the-mill superhero flick. Admittedly, the movie had too much "tell" versus "show" and non-fans of the comics will have more issues the story than the core fan base (who weren't all happy for the record). It gets 3.5 fun hard light constructs out of a possible 5. And the 0.5 was just for the imprinting sequence - oh fun.

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  1. I'm a Green Lantern fan since I was a kid, and I haven't watched the live action movie yet! Too busy with work. I hope Jaybob of torrents.to will be able to upload a copy of it soon so that I could judge it based on my own understanding of the Green Lantern story. Nice review BTW! I wish I could create an article/review like this :)

  2. You should definitely try to catch it in the theaters Elmer. Seeing Ryan Reynolds on the big screen is never something to pass up on, hehe