19 June 2011

"Green Lantern" Movie Review

Green Lantern
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Basset, Tim Robbins, Temuera Morrison, Jay O. Sanders, Jon Tenney, Taika Waititi, Geoffrey Rush, Michael Clarke Duncan
Screen Story by Greg Berlanti & Michael Green & Marc Guggenheim
Screenplay by Greg Berlanti & Michael Green & Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg
Directed by Martin Campbell
Theatrical Release Date: 17 June 2011
Date of Screening: 18 June 2011
I Check Movies

No joke: I've been waiting for a Green Lantern movie almost 20 years now.  I've cringed at some of the reported previous attempts to make this film happen, and for much of the last month I've become increasingly defensive as the reaction to the film's marketing campaign has been a resounding, "Yawn."  I was determined to see it, regardless of how it looked in trailers, and so yesterday afternoon my wife and I met up with a friend and we saw it.

If I were to distill the film to a shorthand phrase, it might be: "Top Gun meets Men in Black meets Ghostbusters."  Half of the film concentrates on Hal Jordan (Reynolds), brash test pilot who needs a cathartic experience to make him realize the importance of being a team player.  The other half concentrates on Hal Jordan, rookie member of the Green Lantern Corps--an intergalactic peacekeeping organization that contends with the kinds of threats that one might expect of an intergalactic peacekeeping organization.  In this film we are introduced to what is the greatest of these threats to come down the pike in some time, a being called Parallax who thrives on fear.  (Think: Gozer.)

The story is fairly straightforward, with some laughs along the way.  Hal's arc is standard "chosen adventurer" fare, but the thing about Hal has always been he has a very simple origin story: Green Lantern Abin Sur (Morrison) crash lands on Earth, and before he dies he sends his power ring to find a successor and it chooses Hal.  That's pretty much it.  Otherwise, Hal's biggest concern is largely his relationship with Carol Ferris (Lively), whom he has known since childhood and is poised to succeed her father at the head of Ferris Air (for whom Hal works).  Also going back to their early days is Hector Hammond (Sarsgaard), a nerdy scientist with an inferiority complex who becomes corrupted by Parallax, just as Louis was corrupted by Gozer.

As a Lantern reader and fan, I can of course nitpick quite a lot of the film but on the whole I thought they did a fairly decent job of putting familiar characters and concepts on the screen while still making it accessible to new viewers.  You may not know Kilowog from Tomar Re, but you should be able to follow this film.  Aside from the rather perfunctory story, I really only have two complaints.  Firstly, I was underwhelmed by the appearance of Parallax and I thought Hector Hammond came off as a guy who should be interviewed on the local news about witnessing a twister.  The idea of Parallax worked for me, but not the execution.

Secondly, despite what the advertising campaign may have led you to believe, there's not a lot of Hal interacting with the rest of the Green Lantern Corps.  He arrives on Oa, is introduced to the Corps and leader Sinestro (Strong), then goes back home.  It's rather underwhelming (though I confess I got a buzz from watching Sinestro address the Corps), and later interactions between Hal and the others are few and small.  Viewers who saw the trailers emphasizing footage of the Corps and expecting to see their favorite obscure Lantern in action will be vastly disappointed.

The film is really about introducing audiences to Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, and in this it largely succeeds.  Ultimately, it wasn't as good as I'd hoped, but better than I'd feared.  I can choose to dwell on its shortcomings, or I can accept it and enjoy it for what I think it did well, and at a point in my life where I favor the latter approach.  That said, I do hope that the next film is willing to take its time and allow its story to unfold more organically than the formulaic approach employed here.


  1. Very nice review.

    I like the layout of your site man.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Thank you. I actually just changed the layout in the last day!

  3. Glad you weren't too disappointed, though sorry it wasn't as good as you hoped. My Dad and his wife are in town this week to babysit, and I'm going to see ... Super 8. ;-)

  4. Thank you. I actually just changed the layout in the last day!