Reviews: Green Lantern
Flawed? Yes. Still enjoyable? Of course.
I had been hesitant to see this movie based on some rather vitriolic commentary from my friends. When I finally found myself in possession of it through an unexpected gift, I felt obliged to see for myself what all the fuss was about. Why was this movie so reviled? Honestly, while I can see some of the "why," I have no idea why this gets as much hate as it does. There are some issues, sure, but it is an origin story, so we can expect a few bumps along the road. Hal does some... questionable things with his power, when a simpler method would get the job done much better (to quote one of the characters, "A racetrack? Really?"), but that can be explained by Hal being inexperienced and wanting to test out the limits of his new powers. The tone is bit schizophrenic at first, and takes a while to get going, due to the number of plotlines it has going, but it all consolidates quite nicely in the end, in this troper's opinion. And while the way some of those plotlines get consolidated are somewhat of an anticlimax, the movie as a whole doesn't suffer too badly from it. So, yes. This is a flawed movie. But focusing on the flaws ignores the good in it. The humor is well-done, the characters' relationships are believable and well-constructed. Hal does have some whiny moments, but it only makes the contrast of when he finally grows into a true Green Lantern all the sweeter. In all fairness, this is the best analogy of my opinion of the movie- like its protagonist, the movie is a bit rough. It has flaws, weaknesses, problems. But letting those flaws overcome the experience as a whole would be a mistake. There's good things here if you're willing to see them.
A nice, smooth flight, if you'll mind a little bumpiness.
To open up: I rather like this movie! It's not a deep masterpiece, but it's definitely entertaining, and does bring up some good points about heroes and superheroes, and has good characters, good effects, and many thrilling moments. Of course, that's not to say it's perfect. It's a strange blending of space opera and traditional superheroics, which, to many, may make the film seem unbalanced. Personally, I find it to be an interesting mix, taking space-faring and Star Wars-y ideas and mashing them together with crazed supervillains, heroic reputations, secret identities and government intervention. I think it's worth a shot to be open minded about it, and it's not a real FAULT of the movie, but it can be counted as a potential detractor. Reynolds does a rather good job of playing the part of reluctant superhero, actually bringing some genuine pathos to what could have been a bland, whiny character. Although some of his angst is slightly whiny, it works in the context of the movie, and makes his journey that much more believable. The supporting cast is also full of flair, Blake Lively as Carol Ferris, for instance, brings some energy and flair needed for an equally reluctant love interest, one who learns to truly love the hero as he becomes one. Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond, the movie's main, physical antagonist (the creature called Parallax being the Big Bad), creates a man who you could imagine toiling away for the rest of his life on needless things, one who you can believe would seize any power given to him, especially one powered by his own insecurities. Taika Waititi as Tom Kalmaku, Hal's best friend and 'sidekick', is pretty fun as well, giving us an entertaining 'dragged-along-for-the-ride' partner for Hal. Mark Strong's Sinestro is also very well acted, being both self-righteous, pompous, overly superior and, at the same time, heroic in his own way, making his inevitable descent to the dark-side proper and even a tiny bit sad. The rest of the cast does a solid job, overall. The special effects are also very, very well done, and provide some riveting action sequences. All in all, if you can accept some idiosyncratic ideas and mostly just-solid performances and a little fat, Green Lantern is a underrated action-adventure you should check out.
A bit confusuing to say the least.
Alright, so I'll admit to having been a bit jaded at the time when I watched the film, I'm probably going to be a bit biased in this review as well. So consider this fair warning. I didn't like it. I think it's best to say that it just felt like confused, I didn't feel anything toward the heroes, I felt sympathy for the human bad guy Hector Hammond, he was a college teacher/ geek who played online chess and ate ramen, his dad quite literally felt ashamed of him. As apposed to Hal, who has just about everything going for him, a girlfriend, high paying job, and now a ring that gives him super powers based off his imagination. I can't help but feel compelled to root for the empire here. Parralax should have had more build up in my opinion. I will compliment this film though in that it did make Sinestro feel legitimately "not evil" here, which of course makes it even more of a twist when he puts on the yellow ring at the end. Not that no one saw this coming. It's not good but it's not bad. It just sort of is.
I can't say much more than that. Its bland and watered down. They spent too much time introducing the character considering that they barely delivered a character (and had to graft Kyle's personality onto his just to tell the story they wanted to tell.) The problem is this. They couldn't introduce the Green Lantern Corps and Hal Jordan's human life in the same movie. They tried to split the difference and got nothing as a result. You may think the answer is to spend more time on those human characters but that borders on Bait And Switch. We're here to see the movie about the space cop with the magic ring. What you should do in the first movie is give us what we came here to see, the space cops and the magic rings. Give us grand glorious space battles, introduce us to this fantastic setting. While we're here for the spectacle, lay out some intriguing hooks about Hal Jordan. Our butts are in the seats enjoying the light show and we're starting to get to know the character through his actions. THEN next movie you go personal. You develop Hal more. You develop Sinestro more. They were friends in the first movie. Now you make it personal and make them turn on each other. NOW you can show us his human life.
Powerful and important movie [Some spoilers]
One of the things I was particularly impressed by was that they made the hero's character development explicitly essential to the plot. If Hal Jordan doesn't overcome his fear, Earth and the universe are doomed. And I particularly respected the way they had him overcome that fear. I've watched far too many anime where everything the hero accomplishes is done through Heroic Resolve. Resolve is essential in this story, but it's not enough. Hal Jordan has tried all his life to be the fearless hero he saw his father as, and his fear of commitment and success has beaten him every time. And finally, right before The Climax, he sits down with the people whom he loves and respects most in the world, and he confesses his fear and inadequacy, and they look him in the eye and tell him "You're not fearless, but you are courageous. Just like your father was." This is not some cheesy, one-size-fits-all "You can do it! We believe in you!" This is a personal statement of affirmation, based on long-term, intimate knowledge of the man behind the mask. If it hadn't been true, if it hadn't resonated and rung his soul like a giant gong, it wouldn't have worked. And boy did it work. It changed the man on the most fundamental level. It made him fearless. And fearlessness was exactly what was needed. In the ensuing battle, still ringing with the power of that soul-deep affirmation from the people who know him best, Hal Jordan shows us what fearlessness really looks like. It couldn't have happened without the ones close to him. If Hal's sister had kept her mouth shut, if she'd stumbled over her words and failed to look him in the eye, if she'd distanced herself from him over the previous decades and prioritized other things over learning to understand her brother, Parallax would have shredded him and then everyone else. Hal Jordan is not the only hero in this movie. This is why superhero movies are worth making and worth watching. If they're just flights of fancy, they're superfluous. But stories that teach us about the things that really matter: that is valuable. That's why I liked Green Lantern.
I Had Fun
The storyline wasn't perfectly executed, but it certainly wasn't bad. I enjoyed myself watching it with a friend, and I'd see a sequel if they made one. Bit disappointed that they didn't stick closer to the comics, but most films don't. The supporting cast also could have been fleshed out more, but I attribute this to the brevity of the film- you just don't have time to build up the same amount of character developement in a short film than you do throughout a long comic book run. This could definately be better than it is, but I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to see it. After all, I had a nice time there, and isn't that kind of the point of entertainment?
Fear vs. Courage
Green Lantern was not the best comic book movie that I've seen. But it was one of the better ones. I'll skip past the action and CGI (excellent, as usual), and focus on what made Green Lantern stand out from other comic book films. First, there's the whole discussion surrounding fear. In the real world, if someone says they are fearless, they are either lying or crazy. Had Hal simply put up a facade of fearlessness, Parallax would have crushed him. True courage comes from being able to ignore fear. And that's what makes Hal Jordan so powerful. The other thing was the romance plotline. Everyone knows that the guy gets the girl, so Green Lantern never pretended anything else. In fact, having that history between Hal and Carol gave them the rapport necessary for Carol to help Hal realize his true potential (see above), something a new love interest could not have done.
Where's the emotion?
The Green Lantern movie was fairly entertaining. Ryan Reynolds is a very charming actor and it was fun to see him as a superhero. Some of the action scenes were fun to watch and although the CG was obvious, it had moments where it was still aesthetically pleasing. Unfortunately, there was a lot of things that dragged this movie down story-wise. This movie had some very weak supporting characters. The Green Lantern Corps was cool, but Hal Jordan's family doesn't get much screentime and his Love Interest was boring. Sure, we are told Hal Jordan and his former paramour Carol Ferris care a lot for each other but the actors just don't have much chemistry. Hal Jordan has a best friend who also falls off the face of the movie pretty darn quickly. As a consequence, it was hard to care for the people Green Lantern was trying to save. Because of the weak characterization, the movie failed to deliver the drama and emotion it was trying to. The stakes were pretty darn high, too, but it didn't matter because I just didn't care for any of them. So while the movie wasn't terrible, it definitely fell flat when it tried to deliver a message about profound optimism and faith in mankind. This superhero's franchise is off to a shaky start, but perhaps there's some potential for a great movie to come out in the sequels.