Two more banked reviews to go. Typically I don’t care about live-action superheroes anymore. The “unreality” of comics and cartoons make a superhero world easier to accept than live-action, even with modern computer special effects. I think the big problem is that so many directors are afraid to embrace that, and even the MCU is starting to slide from those fun science fantasy worlds into being more “real world”, which isn’t as cool as you have to explain various powers that real world science tells us are completely impossible. The real world and imaginary world clash too much, and instead of the imaginary world giving us hints on how to be better in the real world, it seems the real world is invading and corrupting the imaginary world.

Still, I wanted to see if Green Lantern was really as terrible as so many on the internet claim. Granted my own thoughts when the movie came out were skeptical. The costume seemed unnecessarily sci-fi, Ryan Reynolds doesn’t come off as Hal Jordan given the roles he usually plays, and the aforementioned issue with live-action adaptations of comics. Movie-original superheroes can be tailored for live-action; animated, comics, and video game superheroes cannot. Still, there were parts of it that looked fun at the very least, something we don’t get from DC properties anymore. So why not give it a go and see if it lives up to the hate or if there’s actually something good here?

RELEASE DATE: 2011

RELEASED BY: Warner Brothers Entertainment

RUNTIME: 1 hr, 54 min

RATING: PG-13

VIEWING SOURCE FOR THIS REVIEW: HBO

STARRING: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, and Mark Strong

SCREENWRITERS: Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, and Marc Guggenheim (story & screenplay), with Michael Goldenberg (screenplay only)

DIRECTOR: Martin Campbell

BOX OFFICE: $219,851,172 worldwide, $$116,601,172 domestic according to IMDB

ESTIMATED BUDGET: $$200,000,000 according to IMDB

The Plot: Astronauts (not ours) accidentally unleashes Parallax (voice of Clancy Brown), a being tied to the yellow fear energy, that feeds off of fear. Years ago Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) managed to lock the monster in the “lost sector” of space. Parallax gets his revenge, but not before Sur sends his ring to a new champion, test pilot Hal Jordan (Reynolds). Now Jordan must learn what it means to be a Green Lantern, the protectors of the galaxy, and use the green energy of will to overcome fear. However, his greatest fear may be his own, and when scientist Hector Hammond (Sarsgaard) is infused with Parallax’s energy to become a psychic powerhouse, he’ll have to overcome it to save our world and the universe.

Why did you want to see it: While I’m not superhuge into Green Lantern the character was still a large part of my DC introduction thanks to his appearance on Super Friends and the various DC Filmation shows. Also, while I’ve heard a lot of really nasty attacks from many on the internet (Reynolds himself has picked on it, including in his more love super”hero” role of Deadpool) there actually a good defense from Lewis “Linkara” Lovhaug, who has also made the only good defense of The Last Jedi I’ve heard even if I didn’t agree with some of his points. That did at least turn any morbid curiosity into a genuine interest. Could you pull off Green Lantern in a live-action situation thanks to modern computer effects?

What did I think: The big question is whether or not this movie was really the dumpster fire I’ve heard it called online or if Lovhaug was right that it was actually good. As someone who has seen numerous superhero movies from around the world, actually thought The Pumaman wasn’t that bad (at least conceptually; in execution…we need to talk), not only have I seen worse, I have seen what a hot garbage of a superhero movie looks like. I mean, I complain about Snyder’s take on the Justice League and especially Superman but that’s purely from an adaptation standing because of what Superman means to me personally. If you really hate yourself, look up Super Fuzz or The Specials, the former being just dumb and the other being rather boring as a superhero movie. (I know The Specials has a few fans…somehow…but a bunch of heroes standing around verbally mistreating each other for around 90 minutes isn’t winning any points from me.) Or for something funny try a Turkish knockoff. This movie, and I will be pointing out faults mind you because nothing is perfect, was actually rather good, so put me in the camp of people who liked Green Lantern.

I mean, I still think the costume is overdoing it just to be sci-fi kewl but otherwise the effects are quite good. You can tell the difference between the light constructs and the rest of existence. The action in general is well shot, the characters aren’t terrible, and overall I thought the story was very inspirational. Not as aspirational as I’d expect, but we’ll get to adaptation errors in due course. However, I did come off of the movie feeling pumped and excited, seeing the hero overcome and become a better person as well as the hero he was meant to be and was inside. This is what Star Wars thought it was doing with Rey done right. (Great, now the Literature Devil has me doing it.) I honestly enjoyed myself from start to finish. This movie is well above any of those actual bad superhero movies I mentioned. I came out of it with the satisfaction I get from my kind of superhero tales and what made me a superhero fan when I was a kid.

Big text wall in this installment so to break things up, here’s the CG suit. It…grew on me somewhat during the movie.

I want to save Hal, and Reynold’s depiction, for last so let’s start with other characters. I kind of question having two villains in the movie, and Hector doesn’t even serve as Parallax’s herald or even any tie to him outside of accidental. What he does do is give this version of Hal a chance to see what he can be, and why the ring chose him even when he doubts himself. I don’t think Hector has been outside of the comics before, not even in the Green Lantern segments of Filmation’s various DC shows but frankly as modern threats go Hector’s psychic powers don’t really push him to A-rank villainy. Maybe on a TV show he’d make for a good recurring threat but in a movie this is basically the best they could do. Admittedly I don’t know a lot about Hector (the one comic I have with him in it actually saw him fighting the psychic form of Martin Stein in an unconscious Firestorm) so I can’t speak to this adaptation but for the movie he does make for a good threat…but at the cost of better building up Parallax as a threat, and given this character has a stronger place in Hal’s comic history turning him into Galactus from Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (almost literally) was not the way to go.

There were two more characters important to the story but didn’t fit into the summary. Well, “important” is up for debate. Tom Kalamku doesn’t get much to do and they race-swapped the Alaskan young man for a white grown-up, or at least he looks white. Taika Waititi, who does well with what little he’s given to do mind you, is from New Zealand (I looked it up) and frankly doesn’t look like he’s native Alaskan, at least to me. Apparently “be darker than the regular white people” was all they needed. Basically Tom is just there to help Hal in one scene, geek out over the costume, and then disappear from the movie. Changing him from the mechanic to the guy on the computers was a good idea given modern aircraft and a reliance on computers in planes, though it doesn’t make Hal and Tom as close as they would be as pilot and mechanic. I wish Tom had been given more to do but as it stands he doesn’t really feel all that necessary, with only Hal’s family having even less of a point when whatever they could contribute could be handled by Carol and even Tom.

Then there’s Carol Ferris (Lively). Here she’s another test pilot whose father owns the company and eventually promotes her to a position in charge. In the comics (pre-52 and pre-Crisis anyway) Carol was just the girl who took over her father’s company, and she ended the relationship with Hal because it wouldn’t look good dating an employee. Okay, did a quick bit of research as I didn’t read a lot of Green Lantern comics, and apparently Carol did become a pilot eventually, though I don’t know if she became a test pilot and it’s possible with the various retcons she was always a pilot now. At any rate her being a pilot here is so inconsequential it could have been anyone when all her good contributions, few as the character is given, happens when she’s in the upper offices. Plus here it was Hal who broke off their relationship as part of his character arc. Outside of an almost-triangle with Hector she basically suffers from the same problem: just being there as part of Hal’s arc. There is one scene where she helps Hal out but otherwise she’s a plot device. We don’t even see her get captured by Hector so basically she only serves a minor function, though hers is necessary to Hal’s arc. Hector could have also been anyone, maybe an actual agent for Parallax since we’re talking Galactus, but at least Carol’s connection to Hal shows his growth by the end. I just wanted her to do more besides that. I don’t expect her to go Star Sapphire, just actually do more in her association with Hal.

Next is the Corps’ role in the story. There isn’t much you can do with them in one story unless Hal training with them was the focus (it isn’t) and they do work well for the time they have. Someone went to the trouble of researching the various aliens that make up the Green Lantern Corps and I did recognize a couple outside of Tomar Re (Geoffrey Rush) and Kilowag (Michael Clark Duncan), who actually show up in a cameo thanks to computer imagery. And cameo is all they do before Sinestro (Strong) takes their place as Hal’s instructor. Frankly Sinestro could have done what they did so they end up being just more focused easter eggs like the rest of the Corps we see in group shots. I think the biggest flaw of the movie is that they try to have too many characters across Hal’s career at once, which is fine for comic fans like me but for the general audience it can come off as unnecessary. Also SPOILER FOR THE POST-CREDITS TO THE END OF THE PARAGRAPH–> this part seems to be there just to be a post-credit teaser, but if Hal proves the will energy is stronger than the fear energy, even to Sinestro after witnessing the last time the Lanterns went after Parallax, why does Sinestro still put on the yellow fear ring anyway? It’s not really clear why he decides to outside of teasing the Sinestro Corps in a sequel and because he eventually turns evil in the comics.

Finally there’s Hal himself. I did worry going in that Reynolds would be too much like his usual characters but we saw back in Pokémon: Detective Pikachu that he can tone that down if it isn’t right for the character, and it certainly isn’t for Hal. I do have one problem with Hal here but it’s on the writing side. Hal’s character arc isn’t about overcoming fear but overcoming his own ego. Hal is a bit too sure of himself in the early comics, though not as bad as Guy. Reynolds is given a different type of arrogance, although frankly one I wish the real Hal had. Being an artist isn’t the only reason I prefer Kyle Rayner despite growing up with Hal, who wasn’t as arrogant in Super Friends. In this version Hal has to overcome fear in himself after seeing his father die as a child when his plane explodes. It’s why he can’t get close to anyone and why he challenges himself so often. That’s not a bad character arc on its own, and Reynolds plays it fantastically. It’s just a bit closer to Kyle’s character arc, only replacing insecurity with irresponsibility, making this version of Hal a screw-up who doesn’t think until he’s forced to as he grows into his new lot in life as Green Lantern of Sector 2815, replacing one of the greatest Lanterns ever. Again, not bad and I almost prefer it, but not quite Hal’s character. As I said, what it lacks in aspiration it makes up for as inspirational as Hal learns to overcome his own fear not only in dealing with Hector but in his battle with Parallax as well as in dealing with others, and I can forgive it for its errors as what we get really does work.

Although we don’t see Hal get knocked out by his own arrogant stupidity. That’s not our Hal. 🙂

Was it worth the wait: Frankly yes, and if that puts me into a minor opinion on the internet…well it wouldn’t be the first time would it? Minor adaptation errors and too many characters in one shot aside this is a good interpretation of the characters for the most part. As a general superhero movie it hit all the right buttons. Frankly Green Lantern is a superhero movie worth seeing and it’s too bad the dark and gritty Snyderverse shoved it away. Ignore the anti-hype and give it a look for yourself.

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

2 responses »

  1. I am a semi-green lantern fan. I’ll freely admit that the Internet was way overblown with the “awfulness” of it, but I’m not quite as forgiving of it as you.

    And I have the director’s cut of the movie. 😉

    I’d sum it up as it felt like a trilogy crammed into one film. Parallax should have been the boss fight at the very end of a 3 movie saga. The first should have been more focused on the Corp itself (worldbuilding) and Hal’s training.

    And I still think Ryan would be a perfect Guy Gardner, but is not a great Hal Jordan.

    To sum it up, I’d rank this film as very mid. (because like you, I have seen way, WAY worse films – including Pumaman)

    Like

    • I don’t think Ryan could play up Guy’s level of jerkness, but I do agree that at least two movies could have been made out of this. I’d say the first would be Hal learning to be Green Lantern without the Corps and have him learn about it after dealing with Hector’s threat. The next film would be the Corp training (kind of like how Hal was a superhero on Earth before going to meet the Guardians) and if Parallax isn’t in that one then a third movie. Maybe the second is Sinestro’s fall and the third is him joining with Parallax and starting the Sinestro Corp. That probably could have worked better.

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