Review Shooter: Green Lantern
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DC’s summer superhero entry is here! Yay?
If I had to come up with the complete title for this film, it’d be Green Lantern: An Earth-Bound Space Adventure. Although we do venture into space with the likes of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, Martin Campbell can’t help but direct this film back towards Earth as we know it.
A few years ago, this wouldn’t be too big of a complaint, but now, taking us to new worlds and really committing to them is what can make or break a superhero blockbuster. Thor threw audiences into Asgard, X-Men: First Class time warped us to the swinging sixties and V for Vendetta enveloped the story in a dystopian future. Showing us fans what we’ve been anticipating for months and yanking it all out from under us to return back to Earth shows a lack of confidence.
I hate to compare Green Lantern to Thor once again, but it can be said that the latter exceeds in showing us the strange new worlds its property has for audiences while Green Lantern gives the audience the lowdown right off the bat with a voiceover from Tomar Re (Geoffrey Rush). I can understand why the studio would have doubts about throwing unfamiliar audience members into space with ring slinging aliens and emotions in a visual spectrum, but I feel like starting the movie off this way and not letting us discover new things along with Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) chunked up the narrative a bit.
With this being the possible first of a franchise, this movie tells the origin of Hal Jordan and his induction into the Green Lantern Corps as its first human member. Although many super-powered beings in comics wear their own costume and have their own set of powers, what sets Green Lantern apart is that it’s about a police force that patrols the spaceways; instead of having a lone hero, there’s a team there always to back members up while they all wear the same symbol.
A journey always integral to the story is that of the main character. As the film ebbs and flows, the character needs to grow and learn to rise up to the situations they’re presented with. In Green Lantern, we get a main character akin to Tony Stark in that Hal Jordan is a cocky and sometimes unsafe test pilot that must learn to overcome his haphazardness and fears to face whatever is in his path.
Where I can say that Green Lantern really shines is in the design department. From the beginning of production, we fanboys were worried right away at how this strange part of the DC universe would translate to the big screen. Well I say rest easy fanboys and fangirls because everything here works. Although Hal’s suit looked a tad wonky in the first preview, in the final cut of the film they’ve touched it up more to give it an organic, skin-tight feel. I thought another great touch was how the emerald energy exploded underneath the lantern symbol and the energy coursed through the suit as more force was exerted. Another home run was the myriad of Corps members we saw, no matter how briefly.
Although I’ve heaped some praise on the film, I have more qualms with it than anything else. The start of these has to be the cast. When Reynolds was announced as Hal Jordan, the internet almost exploded with hate; when it comes down to it, he was one of the best parts of this origin tale. Reynolds brings an uncertain goodness to the role and lends his comedic side to scenes that are dulled down by his co-stars. Now that we’re done with that, let’s move onto the not so great acting. Blake Lively as Carol Ferris redefines the character; however, this isn’t a good thing. In the comics, Carol is a headstrong and independent woman looking forward to taking over her father’s company, Ferris Air; in the movie, Lively portrays Carol as somewhat boring daddy’s girl with a whiny beef against Hal. Then comes Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond; his head doesn’t get to the proportions it does in the comics, but it does certainly swell to Elephant Man sizes. Although Hammond is a shut-in who becomes a villain, sometimes Sarsgaard oversells it and the scenes suffer from it.
Now we should talk about one of the main problems with the film, which sadly is also the main villain, A.K.A. one of the reasons we’re supposed to care. In the comics, Parallax is the entity that represents fear in the universe. In the movie, Parallax is the fallen Guardian, Krona who absorbed yellow fear energy; so much so that he became comprised of it and seeks more throughout the universe. You’d think this more in-depth origin would serve the narrative of the film, but really it overly complicates matters. Did Parallax really need a place in this film? Are we supposed to buy a fresh member of the Corps defeating one of the most powerful forces in the universe in his first couple weeks? One other big thing changed for the movie was the look of Parallax. In the comics, he’s an insectoid comprised of yellow energy, but for the movie they’re opted for a large headed, spike-toothed form with tentacles comprised of souls Parallax has sucked in. Better than Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer’s Galactus-cloud? Yes, but the only difference is a hint of a personality. I think my friend, Tana, who isn’t familiar with Green Lantern summed it up best, “I liked it when the giant blob thing was flying through space like ‘NYAH NYAH NYAH!'”
Once again, the things that worked, worked. Tomar Re was charming with the voice of Geoffrey Rush and Kilowog was a hard ass drill sergeant with the booming voice of Michael Clarke Duncan. Hell, Mark Strong was a huge highlight as Sinestro, although he could’ve had a lot more to do. The Guardians were believable as leaders who knew more than they let on (especially if you read the comics). The power ring constructs, although a couple were a bit out there, were enjoyably bad-ass and creative. A lot of these factors are definite high notes and eye candy for fanboys.
However, it can’t go unsaid that were this film faltered, it fell flat on its domino-masked face. The team of four writers made it feel like the audience was being pulled in multiple narrative directions (the post-credits scene completely contradicts the events at the end of the movie). The editing confused the hell out of even me at times (we are on Earth, get a two second flash of Lanterns flying through space, and return to Earth). The biggest blunder has to be our lack of time in space/on Oa; Hal receives tips and gets introductory lessons on everything Green and then we go right back to Earth. This problem cuts back on the escapism we go to movies for and shows a lack of faith from Warner Bros.
At the end of the summer, we’re going to look back on the blockbusters that had us on the edge of our seats. Unfortunately, Green Lantern won’t be on that list. Hell, even I didn’t really care when Hal conquered Parallax through a space-game of cat and mouse. A big question that can be asked during this film is, “Sure, it looks cool but why should I care?”