Green Lantern dazzles the eyes. Whether Hal Jordan is flying through the beautifully constructed world of Oa, battling the intricately detailed and disturbing being Parallax, or showing off his newly manifested willpower (or his abs), this film does not visually disappoint. Unfortunately, the visuals are its greatest success.
I enjoyed a few moments of the film, but I did not feel that it contained the heart and soul that the source material provides. Granted, I’m still working my way through the graphic novels, coming up to the Blackest Night epic right now, having allowed Green Lantern to be one of those gaps in my comic reading as I grew up. I read him here and there, encountering him in the Justice League, but never with any regularity. In the last few weeks, however, I’ve been doing a great job filling that hole, if I do say so myself.
The story here really is not that deep: Hal Jordan, irresponsible womanizer and ace fighter pilot, receives a ring from the dying Abin Sur, a legendary member of the Green Lantern Corps who defeated the terrifying, yellow embodiment of fear called Parallax. This ring initiates him into the intergalactic police force called the Green Lantern Corps, headquartered at Oa and governed by the immortal beings called The Guardians. He struggles with accepting this responsibility and must think it over. Meanwhile, Parallax has gotten a foothold on Earth and is coming to destroy it, unless Green Lantern’s light outshines evil’s might and turns blackest night into brightest day. (See what I did there?)
You’d think that a basic story like this would be pretty simple to execute. Unfortunately, the pacing was off and the film dragged quite often, causing the story to become a bit uneven. I don’t need high octane action from start to finish, and I think they were really attempting to inject some pensive moments into the story. It just didn’t work. Hal talked about wrestling with some personal demons, but I didn’t feel it. I wanted to feel that struggle, that battle within himself–manifested and mirrored through his struggle with Parallax–to do the right thing. Unfortunately, there were too many moments that were shattered by a snarky comment from
Hal Jordan Ryan Reynolds.
Let’s face it, we were watching Ryan Reynolds in a CGI green suit, not Hal Jordan. There were times he almost got there, but then he fell back into himself and took me out of it. Those who know me will possibly roll their eyes, but I’m telling you right now: Bradley Cooper would have done it (I’m possibly still bitter about that casting choice). Peter Sarsgaard managed with what he was given, though I think Hector Hammond was an unnecessary addition to the film. I see why he was there: to demonstrate what fear does when it takes hold, how it degenerates and destroys. It’s foreshadowing to the future of Sinestro (be sure to watch the clip after the credits for the moment I wanted to see throughout the film).
Speaking of Sinestro: Mark Strong did a great job, no surprise there. I hope they do make a sequel so that he can really shine in this role. Blake Lively was just fine as the civilian/boss side of Carol Ferris, but I’m sorry I just cannot buy her as the second best fighter pilot in the world. Just…no. She’s 24! She did well with what she was given, but that was just a bit too much.
If they’re going to market Geoff Johns’ Secret Origin trade paperbacks as movie tie-in editions, they should follow that story line! Geoff Johns has done a masterful job with his run of Green Lantern comics, and they gutted much of the heart and soul out of it. I think that Sinestro is really an intriguing character, and much of him complexity comes from his relationship with Hal. He becomes Hal’s mentor, just as Abin Sur was his. In the film, they’re nearly enemies, with Sinestro looking jealous at this upstart. The gravity of Hal’s decision should be accentuated by his fighting to earn the symbol on his chest through training. Instead, this newly minted member of the Green Lantern Corps does not really need anyone else, and with 10 minutes’ training he is able to defeat Parallax–one of the most deadly forces in the galaxy when no one else could.
I’m fine with having Parallax–he’s a terrifying foe–but there needed to be a deeper struggle between it and Hal, as this is one of the worst beings he will ever encounter, one which nearly defeats him and changes him. However, the final battle was maybe 5 minutes long, 10 if I’m being very generous. I didn’t get the menace as I should have, particularly as we had to split our time with Hector Hammond.
The more I think about it, the more irritated I become with this film. I’m griping about its shortcomings, but there were a few pretty OK moments. It was just unfortunate that they had to compete with some deeper, distracting structural flaws. I really want them to make a second one (good gravy, they made Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer!). I think they can really do well with it, particularly with some of the foreshadowing inserted in there, which I really did appreciate. Do go see it; maybe I’m being that guy who gets hung up on obscure facets of a film. Maybe those who are new to Green Lantern will not be distracted by some of the flaws–I truly hope so, and I might just envy you.
2 out of 5 stars