When I was a boy, I had Superman pajamas, but only because there were no Green Lantern ones. The DC merchandising machine did not take the George Lucasian approach in the 80s; instead, they only produced merch pertaining to the heaviest of hitters–unlike today when one can find nearly any character emblazoned upon garments meant for a grown man. Seriously 1980s, no GL Underoos? I digress. Even though I haven’t read a comic book in years, if I were to pick one up it would no doubt star my favorite Silver Age Emerald Knight.
So years after I had moved on grown a bit and admittedly developed a “make mine Marvel” attitude about my costumed heroes, I was pretty excited when a Green Lantern film was announced. When the film debuted in 2011, I was very excited to see it. I planned several times to head out to my local theater and for whatever reason kept putting it off. Then I started reading the huge pile of negative reviews, most of which called it a huge pile, and resolved to just pretend it didn’t exist. 3 years later, the Blu-ray was just laying there at the top of a bin filled with budget priced titles, and I decided to give it a shot. It isn’t as bad as described, but very little could be.
For those of you who are unfamiliar:
A test pilot named Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is granted an alien ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe.
Firstly let’s talk origin. Hal Jordan is the original Green Lantern. (Well unless you count the “Golden Age” which took place on Earth-2 which I don’t.) There is some confusion on this point created by the inclusion of John Stewart as the main Lantern in the Justice League cartoons.
Ryan Reynolds was not ideal as Jordan,with mostly comedic credits to his name and questionable Marvel pedigree in support of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The humor seems to overtake the story at times. Reynolds’ fast talking and wise cracking is better suited to The Flash as portrayed in the previously mentioned cartoon outing. It is hard to believe that anyone would let this guy fly their plane–let alone wield a ring with unfathomable power. Reynolds does, however, come across as likeable, which is important to the character.
CGI and effects for 3D seem to be placed in such a way to disguise the lack luster script. Even the iconic Green Lantern uniform, which I have always wanted in PJ form, is constructed of pure effects. I prefer to view CGI through the lens of history. Think about the effects featured in the video for Dire Straits “Money for Nothin.” At the time this was the most advanced and exciting revolution in special effects. The video cost about a billion dollars to make and when viewed today looks like the most dated piece of garbage ever produced. Our children will feel the same way about this movie and many others like it (I’m looking at you Speed Racer).
The villain’s motivation is confusing and seems to come out of nowhere. To tell you the truth I knew he was going to be the villain going in, but was surprised when he turned. The true motivation seems to be an after thought to the pointless CGI pile mentioned above. This is symptomatic of the attempt to cram too many Lantern stories into one film. It’s like they already knew they wouldn’t rate a sequel, so they give us 80yrs of story in 2hrs. The one standout is Marc Strong as Sinestro. His acting is explosive and my attention was perfectly held each and every time he appeared onscreen. Oddly, we learn very little about Sinestro despite The Matrix derivative approach to his mentoring role Strong still shines through. Also (though a tad unrelated to this point) the training scenes were straight out of The Matrix.
Any comments beyond these would just be petty. This is still an ok superhero picture. Honestly, it would have been a revolution had it come out before the game changing X-men franchise or even before Iron Man further raised the bar for the genre. Pouring a rich character history into a single film is difficult to manage. Mediocre casting and poor writing = lackluster expensive looking movie.