Genre: Superhero, science-fiction
Director/s: Martin Campbell
Running Time: 114 mins
Budget: $200 million
Released: 17 June 2011
A test pilot is granted a mystical green ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe – imdb
Given the current success of Marvel Studios growing library of superhero films, it’s only natural that their main competitor – DC Comics, would want to cut in on the action, however it seems that unless Christopher Nolan is behind it, DC comic-book adaptations just don’t have what it takes to draw audiences, with the possible exception of Watchmen.
Okay, so with a $200 million budget one has to wonder what went wrong. Since the concept of superheroes is a very visual thing to begin with, I believe that these type of films have to be one part special effects and one part good storytelling so that firstly, the film looks believable (as can be) and recognizable to its comic-book counterpart and secondly, so that the plot is interesting and engaging enough to appease fans and casual viewers alike. So which one of these things was Green Lantern Missing? Well, both really…
So don’t get me wrong, Green Lantern is an effects-heavy film, there’s no doubt about that and a lot of it does look good, such as the space scenery, the Green Lantern’s home planet Oa as well as the various alien species and of course the power ring’s manifestations. Unfortunately, some of Hal Jordan’s (Ryan Reynolds) flight scenes just didn’t look very believable and he looked rather ridiculous wearing that mask, especially when his eyes changed to a washed-out blue colour. My main issue regarding the visuals however is with the film’s lead antagonist – Parallax, who looked poorly constructed (CGI-wise) and almost cartoon-like. Parallax is supposed to be this sinister, threatening entity but resembled a Jim Henson muppet more than anything else (think it had a lot to do with how the animators stylized the eyes), and everything that followed past the creature’s head just looked like a swirling mess.
So visually, apart from the abomination that is Parallax, the Green Lantern costumes did look pretty impressive (apart from Jordan’s ‘Green Hornet‘ mask) and a lot of the alien species present were faithful to their comic-book counterparts. On a non-special effects note, I feel that Ryan Reynolds did not do Green Lantern justice and that he was a poor choice for the role of Hal Jordan. Reynolds is usually associated with comedy/romantic comedy films and I feel that his inclusion in this film took away from the overall tone, often making the film seem like a joke and overly comedic, and while perhaps the film tries not to take itself too seriously, I know that Reynolds has what it takes in portraying a tough guy, but only perhaps when he dons his beard, such as in Smokin’ Aces, Blade Trinity and so forth. Reynold’s performance just came off as goofy in my opinion.
Moving on from special effects, the character that I found to be most interesting was Sinestro, played by Mark Strong, it’s just a pity that he didn’t fulfill his purpose in the film – that of lead antagonist. The film goes to the effort of having Sinestro convince the Guardians to forge the yellow ring (powered by fear as opposed to will) in order to ‘fight fear with fear’ only to not have him use it. I was expecting an epic battle between Sinestro and the Green Lantern Corp, but all we get is a stinger at the end of the film suggesting that Sinestro has fallen from grace, this left me feeling cheated and while I understand that the first Green Lantern film is basically an origin movie and that the filmmakers obviously did this to pave the way for a sequel, given the expense of the film, the negative reception overall and the mediocrity of the plot, I don’t see the point of making a sequel (which has already been confirmed).
Peter Sarsgaard plays the role of Hector Hammond, a scientist who gets exposed to alien DNA of the Parallax entity, causing his brain to grow to enormous proportions as well as granting him psionic powers. Hammond is the film’s secondary antagonist and does a good job of thrashing Jordan, which begs the question, if one has a magical ring that can make any thought tangible why in the hell does Jordan never create a force field to protect himself, consistently throughout the film, Jordan is smacked around like a rag-doll, and the idea that he could never think of any defensive manifestations leaves much to be desired.
Plot-wise, Green Lantern fails hard, it’s a case of too much too soon and even though the story progresses rather quickly, it gets bogged down with extensive, boring scenes that feel like filler material until the next special-effects-laden sequence pops up. Green Lantern’s plot is generic and predictable, which is a shame especially considering the amount of reference material the filmmakers had at their disposal. Parallax is an uninteresting antagonist, who uses another boring bad guy (Hammond) to do most of his dirty work until he arrives on earth for a four-minute showdown with Hal Jordan, and were the film to have Sinestro as the villain, Green Lantern may have been halfway decent. And it’s really a shame that Green Lantern’s first public display involved him conjuring up a race car and having it spin around a track in order to save civilians, c’mon man – Superman stopping a 747 crashing into an arena filled with thousands of people was a hell of a way to make an entrance, not stupid race cars…
…if one has a magical ring that can make any thought tangible why in the hell does Jordan never create a force field to protect himself…
To conclude, Green Lantern is a disappointing, special effects-heavy film, with a wafer thin plot and poor character development. There aren’t too many redeeming qualities about this film, so repeat viewing is unlikely to happen. The action scenes aren’t even frequent enough to keep children entertained, children who seem to be the only demographic this film is intended for given the comedic (unintentionally so I imagine) nature of this film. A sequel to Green Lantern has been given the green light and I shudder to think how bad it will be. DC Comics seriously need to start taking the reigns of their properties if they hope to leave an impact in the film market or at the very least contend with Marvel Studios consistently successful comic to film adaptations. If I had the power ring, I’d use it to vaporize every copy of this film in existence. Avoid.