I’m going to jump right out and say it, Green Lantern is pretty, damn good. I’m actually kind of lost as to why it’s been hammered with such negative reviews leading up to its opening. Why the 22% percent, Rotten Tomatoes? Green Lantern is far better than Fantastic Four (27%) or Catwoman (10%), so why is it labeled rotten? Are we fans now, too hard to please? Have we been made as tough and cruel as the streets of Gotham since The Dark Knight proved how gritty a comic book movie could be?
To enjoy Green Lantern you need to lighten up and embrace the zaniness of Silver Age comics. Yes, there are millions of aliens, an inter-stellar police force Earth had no knowledge of and magic rings could pop out of the sky at any moment and turn you into the universe’s next super hero. If you can accept these premises and not take yourself or the movie too seriously, you’ll have a blast with Green Lantern. If you go in looking for a deep, soul-searching experience dealing with heavy themes of what it means to become a hero, you’re gonna be disappointed.
Some spoilerific comments can be expected below the cut.
For fans of the comics and complete n00bs, the rise of hero, Hal Jordan is a familiar one. Cocky, self absorbed, ladies man is given great power and in turn must learn to temper such power with responsibility. It’s not a stretch to believe Reynolds as Hal, and it’s a result of good casting. He plays the test pilot as overconfident yet likable and charming. Sound like familiar role for Reynolds? He’s different from comic book Hal, not nearly as straight-laced, but to ask Reynolds to play him another way would have been the wrong choice.
His casting fits the tone of the movie, which is light-hearted and fun. It’s a faithful adaptation, never straying too far from it’s comic book origins. No major character is ever in real peril and you know in the end good triumphs over evil. But come on, even in the darkest of super hero movies we kind of always know good will win out. This movie asks you to sit back and enjoy the hero’s journey without any worry over whether he’ll reach his destination.
Love interest, fellow pilot and daughter of the company owner, Carol Ferris tries to be serious but her constant flirting with Hal leads you to believe she’ll never crack down on his antics. And surprisingly, after all the crap critics were giving her, Blake Lively is not terrible. She’s makes Carol capable but still in need of rescue when plot needs Green Lantern to impress. And I have to give Martin Campell and crew props for this, when she meets Green Lantern face to face she recognizes him as Hal almost immediately. I appreciate this scene because it’s ridiculous, even for a movie this fantastical, that someone whose known Hal all his life wouldn’t recognize him just because he’s covered up his cheekbones. Score one for not making Carol a poor copy of Lois Lane.
The stand outs performances are, not surprisingly, the villains. Oh wait, I’m sorry “villains.” Hector Hammond played by Peter Sarsgaard is delightfully creepy. Before his head becomes all huge and bumpy you feel sorry for the guy while at the same time he makes your skin crawl. His rise to power parallels Hal’s and they do a neat job comparing their journeys. Of course, once Parallax comes to town (a slightly altered version from his comic book origins, he’s a disgraced Guardian driven evil by the yellow energy of fear) there’s not much use for Hammond anymore and he’s quickly dispatched. But the real stand out is Mark Strong as Sinestro. Maybe it’s because as a fairly well read Lantern fan I know what’s coming. The whole time I’m watching Sinestro I’m looking for the villain peering through his shiny, green armor. And while there’s never anything blatant, like, “Oh look, this dude’s turning evil,” Strong plays Sinestro in a way you feel his dissatisfaction with the Guardians. Well, there is a little treat if you wait through the credits, so stay in your seat.
Green Lantern is far from perfect, and they never seem to capture the epicness of the Corps and their duties patrolling the universe and that’s because so much of this story is Earth-bound. But it’s Hal Jordan’s origin story, there’s plenty of time in sequels for him to be galavanting all over space sector 2814. I mentioned Parallax earlier and he’s the big bad for this film but he is altered quite a bit from the comics. It’s Parallax who attacks Abin Sur and causes him to crash land, and he’s who infects Hector and turns him into the psychic, lumpy head. No longer the embodiment of fear he’s now a Guardian gone rogue and bent on revenge against Oa. But for as powerful and terrifying as Parallax is in the comics he doesn’t really feel as big of threat in the flick. And when Hal defeats him (was there any doubt?) it seems rushed and little inexplicable. Earlier in the film we see Parallax wipe out four seasoned Lanterns, but Jordan’s first week on the job and he defeats him with out issue.
Any other complaints I had were really minor. Yes, the suit looks a little funny but as the movie progresses you’ll notice less and less. Oa is beautiful but our time spent there, and time with Kilowog and Tomar-Re, is all too brief. Again, sequels will rectify this but with the run time being only about 90 minutes I’m sure they could have added more time to develop these characters and this mysterious new world just as much as the human characters. One last thing, and I’m really being fangirl-y and nitpicky here but throughout the film they constantly refer to the light of the rings as enery. It’s the green energy of willpower, not the green light of willpower. I don’t know, seemed a little silly, like light was a crazy idea for these beings to possess but energy is an all encompsing enough term it sounds better? It’s weird.
Overall, where the movie is a success is introducing new people to the complicated mythology of the Green Lantern Corps. All of the characters are given brief yet believable motivation and the effects are really great. The constructs look awesome and while quite a few have been given away in clips in trailers there are still a few neat designs they saved as surprises. Again, you’ll just want more, as if this movie is only brushing the surface. Which as an origin story, it is. Green Lantern isn’t perfect, and no one’s walking away with any awards but you will enjoy yourself. And I don’t think we can ask for more from a summer popcorn flick.
But there could have been more Mogo.