The Best Movie Critic + TIME

Green Lantern

Justin here with a look at Green Lantern

I’m incapable of giving an unbiased assessment of Green Lantern. I knew beforehand that no matter what Director Martin Campbell but on screen it would never live up to what my ideal GL movie is. Green Lantern is one of my favorite comics. I’ve read hundreds of issues. I love the mythology and outlandishness that goes with it. Thinking back on the movie, it had a lot of what I love about the comics. There were also A LOT of issues big and small, and not fanboy problems either. Overall though, I thought there’s a lot to like in Green Lantern. It succeeded for me to a surprising extent, however, I’m not sure if I can recommend it though...

Green Lantern gets a lot right. Ryan Reynolds is a perfectly fine Hal Jordan. I don’t really get his appeal, but I can’t think of anyone else who would have been better here. Maybe if Nathan Fillion was 10 years younger. Martin Campbell does well with action scenes. I hated Casino Royale for how the romance plot was handled, but Campbell brings the same immediacy to GL that the action scenes in Royale had – no small task considering how much of the movie was CG. Speaking of which, I didn’t mind the crazy over the top CG everywhere as much as I thought I would. I actually liked Reynold’s GL suit, the constructs were pretty awesome, and the scenes on Oa were the best parts of the movie.

I actually saw this in 3D, something I usually don’t do. I don’t like the added expense and it’s annoying wearing the Real D glasses over my prescription pair. The 3D was totally awesome though. Easily the best 3D I’ve seen in a movie. I saw GL with some family members who also saw Thor in 3D, they said that GL’s 3D was better. While I would definitely recommend the 3D, I don’t think it’s essential to this movie (or any other movie for that matter).

The supporting cast was pretty damn good overall. I thought Blake Lively did an OK job with what she was given. Peter Sarsgaard was a really solid Hector Hammond. He hit the right balance of creepy, pathetic, and menacing. The winner though was by far, Mark Strong, who did an awesome job as Sinestro. It was really a shame that he wasn’t in the movie more. I thought for sure that the majority of this movie would be spent on Hal training to be an effective Green Lantern with the evil Sinestro. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The alien voices were all pretty good except for Kilowag who received Michael Clark Duncan in a phoned-in, type-casted role. Nothing against Duncan, but I would have preferred someone a little more interesting. Henry Rollins just played Kilowag in the DTV Green Lantern: Emerald Knights movie, he would have been a fine choice.

The major problems Green Lantern had were in the story structure department. This is a movie that ended up reeking of committee involvement. Parts of this seem a little too much like Iron Man. Green Lantern pretty much requires a huge information dump to understand what the hell is going on. Unfortunately, "tell, don’t show," was the order of the movie. Green Lantern clocks in under 2 hours but I felt totally exhausted by the end. The plot advances at a break-neck speed but not in the good way. I wanted more time in space to take in the spectacle. I wanted to see GL impress people on earth. Instead, we just catch glimpses of each as the plot marches to its end.

There’s a scene about 2/3rds of the way through the movie where the evil psychic, Hector Hammond is terrorizing his captors in a lab. Seemingly out of nowhere, Green Lantern shows up to save the day. At this point even I was so confused that I had to ask my wife how GL knew to go there. From then on, the main villain of the movie switched to Parallax, who is an evil space worm thing that’s supposed to be the embodiment of pure evil. Now I know this shit inside and out, but I just threw my hands up and decided to roll with the rest of the movie. It didn’t make much sense and the movie just got wackier and more nonsensical from there. I really really hope there’s a director’s cut floating around somewhere that can make sense of this.

The thing that amazes me most about Green Lantern is that it even got made. I don’t mean that because the movie was bad or anything – but this movie is impossible to pitch. Most great movies can be pitched in one or two sentences: A giant shark terrorizes a small tourist community before the big 4th of July weekend, and only three men can stop it. Space samurai’s with magic powers fight the forces of evil, also with bitchin’ space ships. An amoral bar owner hides his old flame so she can escape before the Nazis catch her. Clueless small-town girl from “different places” goes to Las Vegas to become a showgirl and finds out the harsh realities of that world. So how do you pitch Green Lantern? If I said space cops, you would go somewhere completely wrong. If I said, they also have the ability to harness their willpower to make shapes and things to fight people with, you'd be even more confused. I could futilely add that only one of them is human and he’s friends with this red-skinned dude who later turns out to be evil and fights with the yellow power of fear.

It’s a hard sell.

The eminent Green Lantern comic writer, Geoff Johns, was a producer on this movie. The film uses a lot of his ideas and characterizations. Johns got his start working for Richard Donner. It’s easy to see that Donner influence in this movie. There’s a scene with an out of control helicopter and a damsel in distress that effectively homage’s the classic double jeopardy scene in Superman I. And in the same way that I LOVE Superman I from watching it over and over again as a kid, I think that Green Lantern will find a devoted younger audience. Green Lantern really captures that grand sense of scale and awesomeness in a way that the Marvel movies don’t.

Green Lantern isn’t a great movie, but I liked it. I got a huge thrill sweeping down into Oa and seeing all the aliens. I loved seeing the characters make constructs with their rings. I liked watching Green Lantern fly around the city saving people and fighting the big evil fear octopus. Green Lantern made me feel like a kid. I liked it, but I’m totally biased. If you want a less biased opinion, my wife liked it about as much as Thor. Your mileage may vary.

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Green Lantern + TIME