I've always enjoyed watching DC Comics' stable of heroes in cartoons and films more than actually reading about them in comics. To me, DC's heroes were, for the most part, more "super" than Marvel's crop of characters. They always seemed to be a bit more fantastical and otherworldly. Sure, Marvel has plenty of heroes who acquired there powers from things like radioactive spiders and the force cosmic, but they always came across as more human than the bulk of DC's heroes. They had to deal with more "human" problems than the DC guys and gals. DC heroes are also a bit more cartoonish in nature in my opinion (with a few exceptions), and therefore looked better on the TV screen than say, the Punisher or Ghost Rider. Heck, the DC crowd even seemed to have fancier costumes (Martian Manhunter looks fabulous)! For this reason, I preferred watching DC heroes and reading about Marvel ones.
So it should come as no surprise when I say that I was looking forward to a Green Lantern film. As far as flash and cartoonish looks go, the green guy has a lot going for him. I mean, the guy has a ring that can create just about anything he dreams up. He's draped in a black and green costume and he's part of an intergalactic corps of peacekeepers! If that doesn't say "fantastical," I don't know what does!
On the flip side, Hal Jordan's Green Lantern is one of the most serious characters in the DC universe. He's not a pushover, has dealt with a number of really human problems, and often has run-ins with fellow heroes when they have differences of opinion. Outside of Bruce Wayne, Jordan might be the most grounded hero in all of DC.
So after I heard that the annoyingly comedic Ryan Reynolds, he of National Lampoon's Van Wilder and Two Guys and a Girl fame, was going to don the green tights, my excitement dwindled a bit. This guy has been murder to a couple of excellent comics characters over the last few years. He made Hannibal King a bad joke-spewing schmuck in Blade: Trinity, and Deadpool an even bigger douche than he is portrayed as in the comics (and I like him in the comics!).
Then the trailers hit, and although I thought that Reynolds looked really cool in the costume, I never found the complete motivation to go see the film at the theater. It was one of those films that I wanted to see, but had so many doubts in my mind that I didn't put any effort into finding the extra time to actually get into the car and drive down to the movies. I decided to wait on the DVD.
When the DVD did come out, I went full poozer and picked it up on the day of its release. I actually debated on skipping a party I was invited to in order to watch the film instead! When I did get back from the party (around 11:30 pm), I plopped onto the couch and watched the whole film. I immediately formed a shocking opinion about the movie once it was over: It had its bad moments and Ryan Reynolds in it, but I still liked it quite a bit.
Briefly, Green Lantern tells us the story of Hal Jordan, a cocky test pilot haunted by the death of his father who is chosen by the ring of Abin Sur, who is mortally wounded by Parallax (who I'll get to later), to be the new Green Lantern of Sector 2814. Jordan then goes through training on the planet Oa, home of the Green Lantern Corps.
Abin Sur's body is recovered by the feds, and examined by Hector Hammond, an underachieving scientist who winds up being infected by a bit of Parallax (who I promise to get to) that was left behind in Abin Sur after he is attacked. The infection gives Hammond powers that he uses against his own father and attempts to use them against Hal as well.
Meanwhile, Parallax (I told you I'd get to him) is ticked off at the Green Lantern Corps for having imprisoned him for so long (he escapes his prison and murders Abin Sur and plenty of others at the beginning of the film) and decides to venture to Earth to consume the fear of its inhabitants in order to be strong enough to take down the entire Corps and destroy the planet Oa.
Who stands in Parallax' way? Hal Jordan. Why? Because the Corps (primarily the Green Lantern Sinestro and the supposedly all-knowing Guardians of the Universe) have denied him assistance because they believe that a being born of and powered by fear can only be destroyed by fear.
Will all things end up sunny? You'll have to see the film to find out.
While all of this is playing out, Blake Lively looks pretty, we briefly meet a few of the other Lanterns, Tim Robbins plays a politician, and Angela Bassett gets mistaken by me to be Alfre Woodard.
Whew! You got all of that? I hope so, because it all happens that quickly during the film. It is paced very, very quickly and as a result, left me wanting more. I wanted to see more of Oa and the other Lanterns. I wanted a deeper look at characters like Sinestro and Hammond. I wanted more time to be spent on Hal Jordan's growth as a Lantern.
But I didn't get any of that. What I did get was a somewhat toned-down performance from Ryan Reynolds. While he wasn't a true realization of Hal Jordan in my book, he was a good fit for the film's overall tone. He did get in a few smart aleck quips, but not enough to turn me off to the character completely.
I also got some solid performances from the supporting cast. Mark Strong as Sinestro was particularly good. While it isn't looking particularly good for a sequel to this film, I'd love to see Sinestro get a shot at more screen time. Michael Clarke Duncan and Geoffrey Rush did great jobs as the voices of Kilowog and Tomar-Re, respectively, despite not having nearly enough time on the screen. Clancy Brown, whom I feel deserves more accolades than he's received for his other work, provided the gravelly voice of Parallax and although he was pretty hush-hush, he did a fine job.
Tim Robbins is pretty good as Senator Hammond (Hector's father), as is Angela Bassett as Dr. Waller, but neither of them added much to the film overall. They just simply weren't on screen enough to be given a chance at development.
Taika Waititi delivers the best line in the film when he sees Hal Jordan "turn" into the Green Lantern. He portrayed Thomas Kalmaku, Jordan's good friend and associate. Blake Lively takes a turn as Hal's love interest, Carol Ferris, and does a decent job with a limited role.
The film's special effects were rather cartoonish in the beginning, but got better as the film progressed. I was especially impressed by the look of Parallax once he broke free of his prison. He was a genuinely wicked looking being. The planet Oa looked great as well. Much like Asgard in Thor, it actually looked alien and brilliant.
The look of the Corps members was pretty slick as well. I liked Hal Jordan's costume and was particularly fond of Sinestro's look.
The only effect that I didn't entirely like was Peter Sarsgaard's receding hairline and eventual bulbous protustion. I know that Hammond has a big noggin in the comics but come on, folks, don't make it so cheesy looking!
The music, while very good, lacked a true "hero theme" for Hal Jordan. That probably bugged me more than anything. When our hero takes flight or goes into battle, he needs a good theme song to kick rear to. That wasn't provided here.
I often felt that the film was attempting to smash as much fanboy info into the film as possible so that DC-philes would stay in their seats and trying to play to the general film audience at the same time too often. Had the producers and writers just made either a straight comic film or a homogenous flick for all, the outcome would have been much better. Instead, they tried pandering to both sides of the green ring and as a result ended up with a so-so final product.
Despite all of this, I believe that Green Lantern is worthy of multiple viewings. It isn't perfect, but it has enough "gee-whiz" factor going for it that I've found myself watching it regularly. I'm giving it four stars because Reynolds performed beyond my expectations and the film is a visual treat. I honestly hope and pray that a sequel is made. Perhaps it won't feature Reynolds, but I do think that Mark Strong gave a solid enough performance as Sinestro as to warrant a return to the role.
Hardcore DC fanboys will probably not like this film as much as more casual DC fans will, but general audiences will get a kick out of this popcorn-packed release.
What did you think of this review?