Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan / Green Lantern
Blake Lively as Carol Ferris
Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond
Mark Strong as Sinestro
Temuera Morrison as Abin Sur
Jenna Craig as Carol Ferris at 11
Jon Tenney as Martin Jordan
Mike Doyle as Jack Jordan
Gattlin Griffith as Young Hal
Nick Jandl as Jim Jordan
Dylan James as Jason Jordan
Leanne Cochran as Janice Jordan
Geoffrey Rush as the voice of Tomar-Re
Michael Clarke Duncan as the voice of Kilowog
Directed by Martin Campbell
“Green Lantern” has some fun moments, great 3D effects, and a strong opening, but the second half of the film falters and never quite recovers. It’s still worth checking out on the big screen.
“Green Lantern” is based on the long running DC Comic.
Hal Jordan is a hotshot young pilot. He’s very skilled at his job, but he’s cocky, reckless, and not a team player. On top of that, he’s still haunted by the death of his father which he witnessed at a young age. So when an alien crash lands on Earth and must transfer his power to the best candidate on the planet, Hal does not seem like the best human for the job. But he’s given the power anyway.
The alien, Abin Sur, is a member of the Lantern Corp. They are a group of guardians who harness the green power of will in order to fight evil across the universe. This power is held in a ring which they must periodically recharge from a lantern-like battery. The Lanterns can use their power to form objects out of pure energy.
A new unstoppable force named Parallax is ravaging the galaxy. It mortally wounded Abin Sur, now it is ready to take on the rest of the galaxy. But Parallax gains a foothold on Earth as it infects a human scientist named Hector Hammond. Now it is up to Hal Jordan to learn to control his new powers and save Earth from Parallax. However, he’s going to have to learn to control his own fear and doubts first if he’s going to save the day.
“Green Lantern” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action.
I have to admit that I’m more of a Marvel man than a DC man. I’m familiar with Green Lantern, but I’ve never collected the comics. Still, I went into this film with an open mind. I’m a big fan of Martin Campbell (who did “GoldenEye,” “Casino Royale,” and “The Mask of Zorro”) and I figured that if anyone could do the material justice, it was Campbell. Unfortunately, while parts of “Green Lantern” were quite strong, the movie had a lot of missteps in other areas.
The movie starts out really well. I saw the film in 3D and was actually quite blown away by how well the 3D worked for this space-based film. The planets and stars really pop out on the big screen as well as the aliens and spaceships. (It really got me thinking how cool a 3D “Star Wars” would be.) We’re treated to an amazing, action-packed battle between Abin Sur and Parallax. Temuera Morrison (who played Jango Fett in “Star Wars”) is great as Abin Sur. From his fight moves to his makeup, he’s a cool character. And the cloud-like Parallax is also pretty impressive (though disturbingly similar to the “Fantastic Four” movie’s Galactus). As far as the opening scenes went, it was great for immersing the audience in this adventure.
We are then introduced to Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan. I have to give credit Reynolds he sells the character. He’s funny, likable, and basically holds the movie together. He takes what could otherwise be a ridiculous character in the wrong hands and sells it. I, personally, was more intrigued by the scenes set in space, but Reynolds still managed to make the Earth-bound scenes he was in fun as well.
Reynolds has some good chemistry with Blake Lively as Carol Ferris. She’s spirited, she’s the voice of reason for Jordan, and she’s fun to look at, too. As Lively delivers cheesy speeches about fear and will, you buy it from her.
Once Hal gains his powers and goes to the Lantern’s home planet of Oa to begin training, things get particularly interesting. We are treated to an impressive array of aliens that would do “Star Wars” proud. We meet Tomar-Re who is voiced by Geoffrey Rush and Kilowog voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan. The two offer some laughs as they indoctrinate Hal into his new role. Hal also meets Mark Strong as Sinestro. I have to give credit to Strong here. On the surface this is an absurd character he’s pink, he has a stupid haircut and moustache, he has Spock ears, and he’s named “Sinestro.” What hero is named “Sinestro”? His very name tells you that you shouldn’t trust him! Yet Mark Strong makes him cool. From his silky smooth voice to his impassioned speeches to his brutal fight scenes, he’s ultimately an interesting character. (And be sure to stay through the credits to see a cool bonus scene featuring him.)
What Didn’t Work:
Once Hal returns to Earth after having been indoctrinated, that’s when “Green Lantern” starts to fall apart.
First of all, despite the fact that Ryan Reynolds does a good job of portraying Jordan, he’s not a sympathetic character. He’s a fighter pilot, he’s the sexiest man alive, he has Blake Lively in love with him, and he has super powers. So when he whines that he can’t commit to a woman, you want to slap him. You’ve got Blake Lively fawning over you, you idiot! He whines that he is too irresponsible to save the Earth. You’ve got superpowers and you can fly through space, moron! He’s like the rich kid or the movie star or the high school jock that has every advantage in life, but they’re too irresponsible to realize it. It makes him completely unsympathetic. The Marvel characters like Peter Parker or Steve Rogers are the every-man weaklings who are given powers and make the most of it. Hal Jordan is the man who has everything, is given powers, and runs away from it. His character was simply not handled well.
Another character not handled well was Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond. While the jock is the hero, the nerd is the villain. They start out by making him the stereotypical nerd by having him play chess, be a science geek, and having a receding hairline and bad posture. They even have him pining for the cheerleader…er…Blake Lively. Once he is infected, he turns into an even more grotesque monster. This is one of the other big missteps of the film he looks like the Elephant Man. The audience literally laughed when he appeared on the screen. To make matters worse, they even put him in a mechanical wheelchair in the big finale. So by the end, you have an evil Elephant Man / Stephen Hawking villain battling the jock / Sexiest Man Alive over the Cheerleader. It’s like every terrible high school stereotype thrown onto the screen. Then there’s also the fact that they were childhood acquaintances which seems both unlikely and forced. It’s almost like they took the “Spider-Man” script and slightly tinkered with it to come up with “Green Lantern,” but the results are dramatically different.
Another problem the movie has is that it’s almost TOO faithful to the original comic. For example, Green Lantern has a mask. You don’t even realize how pathetic that is until, in the middle of a big action scene, Jordan runs away, gets into his Lantern costume, then appears in front of the crowd again…and nobody recognizes him. As he’s standing there in front of everyone and everybody is acting like, “Who’s that?”, it suddenly hits you how pathetically ineffective the mask is at concealing his identity. Fortunately they poke fun at the whole mask thing in a later scene and it is quite funny, but by that point their credibility has already been damaged. Another trademark of Green Lantern is the wild objects he makes with his ring. Some are effective like a sword, a wall, etc. But then at another point he makes an enormous Hot Wheels track to save someone. It sounds great on paper but is actually pretty stupid looking on screen. The same goes for some other constructs he makes in the big finale. Then there’s the fact that the green energy is actually willpower. The idea that a human emotion is a super-powerful energy may work in comics, but it’s a bit hard to buy in a movie.
“Green Lantern” also takes a major misstep with the alien race that supervises the Lantern Corps. When they face Parallax, who utilizes fear to battle their power of will, what do they do? They get the bright idea to use fear to fight fear. Excuse me? You’ve been using the power of will to save the universe since the beginning of time, then you have one little crisis and you quickly abandon everything your organization was founded on. So much for willpower. They are also the self-appointed guardians of the universe, yet when Earth is threatened by their greatest enemy, what do they do? They leave Hal Jordan to fight Parallax completely on his own despite the fact that they have thousands of other Green Lanterns who seem to regularly gather for pep rallies led by Sinestro. If these are the guardians of the galaxy, I think I’d rather rely on Superman and Batman. I’d even take Aquaman.
The movie has other problems, too. It almost feels like some scenes were deleted. For example, Hector is terrorizing some people and Hal flies out of nowhere and starts battling him. There’s no explanation for how he found him or that he was even looking for him in the first place. It’s like the attitude was, “This is a superhero movie. The hero and villain can fight whenever we want.” I also have to comment on the soundtrack. It was pretty disappointing which is surprising from James Newton Howard. It feels like it came from a TV show.
The Bottom Line:
While “Green Lantern” has a lot of problems, I still think it’s worth checking out on the big screen. It does have fun moments and the 3D is well done. Reign in your expectations and I think you’ll enjoy it more. But Marvel has absolutely nothing to worry about. Based on “Thor” and “X-Men: First Class,” the battle of the summer superhero movies clearly belongs to them before “Captain America” even hits screens.