Green Lantern

Green Lantern ~ My earliest memory of the superhero Green Lantern is from the Justice League of America comics, and he was awesome. Hal Jordan was a space hero who had a Power Ring that could do just about anything – shoot an energy beam, make a force field, allowed him to fly, and he could make stuff with it, just about anything he could imagine. Like I said, awesome.

This will date me, but Green Lantern also seemed inextricably linked to Green Arrow and Black Canary and they were always doing something political or with social relevance (a big word back then) and other stuff I wasn’t old enough to understand. Also I knew he was buddies with the Flash, they were a team like Superman and Batman, maybe not as old as them, but they were friends and teammates. Such good friends, that when GL’s comic got canceled, Flash let him appear in the back of his comic – now that’s friendship!

Green Lantern has been through some changes since then. He’s been replaced, replaced again, turned evil, killed, brought back to life, and turned into a moneymaker by genius comic writer Geoff Johns. With that last turn of events, we all knew it wouldn’t be long before Green Lantern hit the big screen. The wait is over.

Being a comics geek, I usually look forward to most films based on comics, Green Lantern was no different. If you ask The Bride, she’ll tell you I’ve keeping a mental countdown clock. Advance reviews were not good however, and as I waited until Saturday to see the flick, I can tell you I was a little bit worried. Now, having seen it, I have to wonder what film the critics saw.

This isn’t Iron Man and nor is it the first two Superman films – it is so not the perfect superhero movie, but it is great. Personally I think Pat Travers of Rolling Stone must have lost a bet on this flick the way he ravaged it – it’s really not that bad. As a matter of fact, I thought it was pretty good.

The story is pretty simple, close to the comics with a few differences. Hal Jordan is a reckless test pilot who finds a dying alien whose Power Ring has chosen him as the new Green Lantern. He trains on Oa with other Lanterns and eventually faces off against the villain Hector Hammond and the evil alien entity Parallax. There are spoilers coming, so some folks might want to skip to the end.

Ryan Reynolds is good as the clunky Hal Jordan but even better as the hero Green Lantern. This is a facet of the reason I like origin stories in movies. I don’t want to see the young, reckless untrained hero – I want to see the complete good guy fight for right hero, and in this case, I am validated. Reynolds is so much better at the latter. Blake Lively is just pretty, and other than that, not believable. I wanted more of Taika Waititi as Tom Kalmaku. And Angela Bassett – wow, who would have ever thunk that Amanda Waller would have shown up in a Green Lantern movie?

Peter Sarsgaard is properly creepy as Hammond. But, while he is good, it’s the make-up and the CGI that goes too far with the character. Does Hector Hammond need to be a drooling monstrous maniac? He’s just got a big head in the comics. Really, for me, that would have been disturbing enough. Parallax, is all CGI, and basically a Galactus cloud with the Wizard of Oz’ face crossed with the Akira monster. This is not pretty. Again, a reference to the comics – Parallax’s real form, that of a giant insect is also pretty monstrous and scary, and of course accurate. The Guardians too could have been less scary. Details like this might put some folks off this flick, and sequels if it goes to franchise.

The voice acting of the CGI characters is dead on. Mark Strong is fantastic as Sinestro, playing him with just the right amount of contempt and menace. I loved Geoffrey Rush as Tomar-Re (one of my fave Green Lanterns) and Michael Clarke Duncan is a perfect Kilowog. I didn’t think I would say that after I loved Henry Rollins in the role in the animated Emerald Knights, but it’s true.

There are as many plot holes in this flick however, as there are Easter eggs for comics fans. Unfortunately the former seems to overshadow the latter. The plot jumps rather quickly from the main story with Hal to the subplots with Hammond and Parallax, which is fine, but too much time is spent on minor details that could have been deleted for meatier bits with other characters. Did we really need the flashbacks of Hal’s father in a bad homage to the opening of Speed Racer? Did we need to know all of Hal’s family? I would have rather had more interaction with Carol, Tom, Sinestro and the other Lanterns quite frankly.

I would have rather had more of a fight against both Hammond and Parallax, their defeats seemed too easy to me, and the fact that Hal doesn’t even really defeat Hammond is very bothersome. Come on, he’s supposed to be the hero here, ya know? But I suppose these are things that happen when a film has so many writers credited. The 3-D, while in the previews it made me want to see it in 3-D, was unnecessary. Save your money.

All in all, I had fun, and with a movie that cost upwards of thirty bucks all inclusive, that’s what counts. I came out of the film excited and hoping for a sequel. Not a great film, but a great superhero adventure, visually stunning. And for the folks who liked Thor and Wolverine for certain reasons – Ryan Reynolds is shirtless quite a bit. Recommended.

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About Glenn Walker

Glenn Walker is a professional writer, and editor-in-chief and contributing writer at Biff Bam Pop!. A blogger, podcaster, and reviewer of pop culture in all its forms, he's done stints in radio, journalism and video retail. Ask him anything about movies, television, music, or especially comics or French fries, and you’ll be hard pressed to stump him or shut him up.

Posted on June 20, 2011, in 3-D, cgi, comics to film, film, flash, geoff johns, green arrow, green lantern, iron man, justice league, review, ryan reynolds, superman, thor, wolverine. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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