Green Lantern (2011)

When Van Wilder and a Gossip Girl went to space

The Green Lantern Corps are intergalactic space police who patrol galaxy, with their power coming from the green energy which is put into their power rings, which is powered by willpower. The Green Lantern Abin Sur encounters an ancient entity he imprisoned years ago, Parallax, who feeds upon fear, and is mortally wounded in the encounter and escapes in a spaceship, which crashes upon Earth. Knowing he won't survive, Abin Sur has his power ring select a replacement, which chooses Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) to take over and become the Green Lantern of Sector 2814 (Earth). Hal must overcome his fears and rise to the challenge of becoming a Green Lantern.

The casting choices for the two leads, Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris, were met with backlash from the fans, as almost every comic-book casting choice is nowadays, and I feel the backlash was unwarranted, as Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively play their roles very well indeed. Their characters, however, have much left to be desired. Hal is a weak character, played off as the renegade, quipping womanizer from his first on-screen appearance, which doesn't help as I ended up comparing him to the much stronger character of Tony Stark from Iron Man. The film tries to go into deeper detail about the character by saying Hal's afraid, trying to show him off as a character who acts strong but really has some vulnerabilities and fears he's trying to hide away, but we just end up getting more about how he doesn't stick with one thing, making the character more of a quitter and a jackass, and in that sense, it doesn't help how Hal quits the Green Lantern Corps after barely a day there, and the most development he gets is to not be a quitter. Carol begins the film as a tough girl who can stand on her own two feet, but as the film goes on, she quits being a tough girl and is relegated to being nothing more than a love interest and a damsel in distress.

Peter Sarsgaard gives a tremendous performance as Dr Hector Hammond, a man bored with his life, who feels he cannot make a proper name for himself because he'll always stand in the shadow of his senator father, is given great abilities after being infected by Parallax, not wanting to lose them, especially since his father had nothing to do with him gaining them. I would say that Hector is the best character in this film, as he comes off like quite a sympathetic character, and the way he develops into a villain is built-up and handled well so that it doesn't feel out of place, unlike the post-credits scene. Parallax was a good villain, but the look of him really let the character down, as they try to make him this big menacing entity, but you're just left with an angry, fanged face on a cloud of diarrhea, which doesn't help you take it seriously.

There was quite the number of characters that were not used to their full potential in this film. Amanda Waller's appearance in this film feels like they're trying to make her the DC answer to Nick Fury in the Marvel films that are building up to The Avengers, but it fails and she comes off as a pretty useless character. Not much better can be said for Senator Hammond, who does nothing and is wasted as a character, making this the second comic-book film that Tim Robbins is wasted in. The Green Lantern Corps were criminally underused, as the only scenes we saw of them actually engaging in a fight was when Sinestro and Kilowog were training Hal. Surely with Parallax threatening the Corps, there'd be a good scene to show why they're the law enforcement of the galaxy.

"I love your aftershave, what is it?"

I find it curious how most of the scenes in this film are spent on Earth, considering this film was boasted as a space opera. Little time was actually spent on Oa, the Green Lanterns' planet, and that is quite a shame, as the scenes spent on there are amongst the best scenes of the film, and contains some of the best characters. A lot of the scenes on Earth feel like they're trying too hard to establish Hal's emotional relationships to his family  and friends,falling short of the mark. One of the most notable scenes is when Hal and Carol are in a bar, which tries to expand on Carol and Hal's relationship, but ultimately fails, especially considering how boring the scene actually is. They also try to take an element from the comics where Hal is haunted by his father's death in an exploding airplane, but doesn't give us much more on that than Hal having a flashback to the actual moment.

There was controversy over the Green Lanterns costume, especially with his mask, calling it a bad Photoshop job and all. When Hal first had the mask on, the mask was glaringly out of place, but as the film went on, it felt less like that, and by the end, it was an acceptable part of the costume that felt in place. The idea that the Green Lantern costume was another skin as opposed to skin-tight Lycra is an idea I liked, as it felt like a different take on a superhero's costume. The best thing about the Green Lantern Corps was their power being whatever they could think of, with the only limits being what their mind can conceive, as it's a very original idea that the FX handles very well. The constructs that Hal makes are quite creative, and have a bit of a Looney Tunes feel to them, what with him creating the likes of water to catch a falling person and a racing car on a circuit to guide a helicopter to safety.

The action scenes are quite great to watch, nothing spectacular, just great, but I did like how the action wasn't shoehorned in just for the sake of action, but they were actually there to help the plot along. The dialogue is quite cliched, however. The film also tries too hard to be funny, by giving Hal a number of quips, and whilst this fails, it does help that the film isn't trying to be a dark and gritty origin, or even a stuffy and serious film, that it is actually trying to have some fun.

Green Lantern is not the disaster of a film that critics would have you believe. Granted, the dialogue and characterization is in poor standard, and it is quite disappointing how the film stays on Earth for most of the running time, but it is a film that can be enjoyable and a good entry point into the Emerald Knight and the Corps. I would, however, say that the DC Animated film Green Lantern: First Flight is a better way to enter yourself into the Green Lantern character. This is still a good film, and it's at least worth a rent.


Myerla said…
Good thing about film criticism is we all have different opinions. Personally I found very little fun to be had for this film. Found it dull. What annoyed me the most was Hal's best friend turns up, then vanishes, then turns up again. Poor use of characters is problematic. Nice review, mind.
Tommy Durbin said…
Nice job on this one. You seem to like it more than most people do. Great review!
James Rodrigues said…
I'm a big fan of comic book movies, especially the Marvel/DC ones, so i'm known for being a bit easy on a number of comic book films (Thomas Janes The Punisher and Daredevil also)
Jesse P said…
I must admit their was never a point in this film were i didn't enjoy it... or found it boring.

I'm a giant fan of this stuff but as you pointed out "Little Time was spent on Oa" kind of bumps my rating down, but overall they did a much better Job than i saw on the trailer. My rating a 60%

Nice Review!
James Rodrigues said…
@Jesse P it's great to hear that i'm not the only one who enjoyed this film. I was considering bumping it down to 3 stars (a 60%), but how fun I found the film considered me otherwise
HarleyQuinn said…
I would like to see this movie, great review as always!
MP said…
I feel like it was lazy film making the plot and character development a back seat with the special effects.
MP said…
But great review though
James Rodrigues said…
@HarleyQuinn i'd like to see your opinions on this film

@MP I can agree with your views, it was that, but I found more enjoyable bits to it