Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong
Director: Martin Campbell
Chris’ Take: Green Lantern is the latest film to delve into the superhero genre, whose returns seem to be diminishing with every reboot and reimagining, especially when it comes to some of the lesser known heroes. While Green Lantern is one of the most intricate of comic book series, and is popular among comic book fans, it never really gained appeal outside of that, and Warner Bros. did their best to bring it to that wider audience.
Ryan Reynolds stars as Hal Jordan, a hot shot pilot whose father died flying test planes when he was younger. When an alien life form crash lands on earth and hands him a mysterious green ring and lantern, his life is turned upside down. He is whisked away to the planet Oa and is inducted into the Green Lantern Corps, a group of intergalactic peace keepers, who inform him that the ring allows the wearer anything that they can imagine and that the ring chooses someone without fear to carry it. Hal is placed as protector of Earth and soon has to deal with the rising threat of Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard), a professor who was infected by yellow energy found in the crashed aliens’ body, and also the greatest threat the entire galaxy has ever faced, Parallax, a mysterious lifeform that preys on fear.
Kind of like Fox News.
The writers certainly tried to cram as much as they could in the two hours or so that the movie ran. They tried to squeeze as much mythology and background about the Green Lantern Corps and the rest of the galaxy as possible in before actually being able to tell the story of Hal Jordan. Then, with what time they had left, they tried to build an extra villain into the story to occupy some time before Hal had to fight off Parallax and save the world. The structure felt very uneven and it seemed like there were gaps of time that were unaccounted for which made for a flimsy story when it could have been enriched.
Going into the film, I thought that the previews made the CGI look distracting, and while there times when it seemed overbearing, once you enter the world of Green Lantern, it is much more acceptable. While the graphics for the film were stunning, I thought that the extent of the ring’s power wasn’t portrayed to its full potential. Martin Campbell (Goldeneye, Mask of Zorro, Casino Royale) is an accomplished action director, and while he shot the scenes with visual flair, he failed to live up to the expectations that I had for him. With Goldeneye he had a knack for using over-the-top action sequences to entertain an audience, and Green Lantern seemed like a great opportunity for him to return to that and get away with it a bit more, but he seemed to rush each action scene as opposed to taking his time and putting his excessive budget to good use.
Ryan Reynolds did a formidable job as Hal Jordan, bringing a little bit of humor to the role as well. Peter Sarsgaard really let his freak flag fly as Hector Hammond, and it was enjoyable to watch him finally completely let loose, but he was in the movie less than I anticipated. They didn’t introduce him until 30 minutes into the film, and then when it came time for him to realize his superhuman powers he hardly got to use them before he had to make way for the even bigger villain, making his role seem unnecessary. Blake Lively, while I praised her work in The Town last fall, I have to say that they probably put a cardboard cutout of an attractive woman in there and there would’ve been the same amount of sincerity to the love story between her and Hal.
"Oh Hal, I like love you and stuff." "Get off me, woman."
All in all it wasn’t as bad as I was led to believe going into it, and maybe that’s why I was able to sit back and enjoy it a little bit more. It certainly is not among any of the greatest superhero films, it is distinctly average in just about every aspect, but I wouldn’t call it “bad” either. If anything, it left me hoping to see more of this series to see if they can move on from back story to make a richer story, which they set up extremely well by already making Sinestro (Mark Strong) a developed character, and handing him a yellow ring. I think since I was more interested in seeing the conflict between Sinestro and Hal develop, I will be more interested in Green Lantern 2 (already greenlighted) than I was in watching this film.
Pac’s Take: D.C. comics doesn’t bring their comics to the big screen nearly as much as Marvel does, and as a fan of their work more so than Marvel, I’m always excited to see a new film. This is the first time in the history of cinema where we’ve had the technological capability to bring the Green Lantern to live-action movies and as a first effort, it wasn’t terrible. The biggest concern that I had coming into the film was that the focus on the visual effects would hinder the development of the story of Hal Jordan becoming the Green Lantern. I don’t think that I was wrong about that this assumption either, while there were times that the film impressed me with its story development, I often felt cheated by its lack of depth. Hal Jordan didnt’ seem to be any different from many other superheros we’ve seen hit theaters recently, but his comic book character is one of the more complex.
As Chris mentioned above, I took issue with some of the time gaps, suggesting there may have been some very important scenes left on the cutting room floor. For instance, there was one scene where Hal, as the Green Lantern, showed up at Oa coincidentally at the perfect time to talk Sinestro down (I won’t go into further detail). More importantly, the movie suggested a friendship between Hammond and Hal Jordan, as well as a love triangle between them and Carol Ferris (Lively), but the relationships were never explained beyond a passing hello between the characters. For the general public who is not a fan of the comic, these relationships are foreign and needed to be developed better, I actually thought the film could have benefited from 15 more minutes and this was most likely a case of the studio trying to keep the run time under 2 hours.
In the first scene of the film I was a little put off by the graphics, but once actual human actors were introduced the film began to feel more grounded and my concerns were put to rest.
Like gingers, animated lifeforms have no soul.
Ryan Reynolds did a fine job as Hal Jordan, however his face and character may be oversaturating the superhero market because at times I had a hard time seeing the character and not the actor. Peter Sarsgaard was definitely the most entertaining to watch on-screen and it is a shame that Hector Hammond didn’t get more screen time. While Chris’s least favorite casting decision may have been Blake Lively, I was extremely distracted by the casting of Tim Robbins as Senator Hammond. There’s not enough movie magic in the world to make me believe that Tim Robbins (52) could be the father of Peter Sarsgard (40). While this disparity in age may work in an episode of Teen Mom, the disgruntled father-son relationship between the two did not work.
This seems like as good a time as any for a paternity test
On a final note, the fanboy in me was geeking out to see Angela Bassett as Amanda Waller. For those of you unfamiliar with the character (potential future spoiler alert), Amanda Waller is a major villain in the D.C. universe and becomes the leader of both the Suicide Squad and Checkmate (as the White Queen). Hopefully we’ll see her in future installments of the Green Lantern and possibly in other D.C. franchises.