PLOT: In a universe as vast as it is mysterious, a small but powerful force has existed for centuries. Protectors of peace and justice, they are called the Green Lantern Corps. A brotherhood of warriors sworn to keep intergalactic order, each Green Lantern wears a ring that grants him superpowers. But when a new enemy called Parallax threatens to destroy the balance of power in the Universe, their fate and the fate of Earth lie in the hands of their newest recruit, the first human ever selected: Hal Jordan.
Hal is a gifted and cocky test pilot, but the Green Lanterns have little respect for humans, who have never harnessed the infinite powers of the ring before. But Hal is clearly the missing piece to the puzzle, and along with his determination and willpower, he has one thing no member of the Corps has ever had: humanity. With the encouragement of fellow pilot and childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), if Hal can quickly master his new powers and find the courage to overcome his fears, he may prove to be not only the key to defeating Parallax…he will become the greatest Green Lantern of all.
REVIEW: I guess this was bound to happen. Couldn’t have a summer where every single comic movie that came out was an out-and-out winner. There always has to be a dud, an under-performer, a stinker or, at least, a film that kinda stinks but you can tell that it might've once had a decent aroma.
Thought maybe THOR would’ve been the dud this year, but it turned out to be a pretty great little movie. Definitely better than I was expecting. X-MEN: FIRST CLASS had potential to fail, but didn’t and ended up being the best film in that particular franchise. As for unreleased comic pics, I have faith that CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER will rock, TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON will be uber-flashy and COWBOYS & ALIENS will be loved by those who see it and mocked by those who don’t (which will probably be everyone because sci-fi westerns almost never make money at the box office). I don't expect any of these films to fit the "meh" bill for this summer.
Last summer, the big comic dud was JONAH HEX. I loved it, nobody else did. Most consider it to be one of the worst comic-to-film adaptations ever. The year before that brought audiences a lackluster WATCHMEN adaptation and the year before that was when SPEED RACER stalled out. Both movies have their high points and both movies have their low points. Neither is perfect, but they both buckled under the pressure of being a would-be blockbuster. None of them are out-and-out bombs like CATWOMAN or ELEKTRA.
Enough waffling, the big comic disappointment/dud (all depends on your point of view) this summer is GREEN LANTERN.
I originally had planned a massive spoiler-laden article chronicling all the various things that worked and didn’t work in the movie, but then I realized that there is only one major problem with the film. One massive flaw that all of the others are literally connected to. One deep issue that, because it either wasn’t acknowledged by the studio or flat-out ignored, damn near sinks the entire film. That flaw is that every time (EVERY SINGLE TIME) GREEN LANTERN finds itself on Earth, the movie comes to a screeching halt. Doesn’t matter if it is the opening dogfight sequence where Hal (Ryan Reynolds) and Carol (Blake Lively) outmaneuver a couple of Stark-esque fighter drones or the final battle with Parallax, all of the Earth-bound stuff in LANTERN is borrrrring. All of the plot problems, character issues and faults lie pop up anytime Hal is wasting time on Earth.
Now, when the movie finds time to make it’s way to the planet Oa, home of the Green Lantern Corps, the flick comes roaring to life. Gave me an idea of what the STAR WARS prequels should’ve been like. The Corps are basically Jedi, Sinestro (Mark Strong) is their Qui-Gon Jinn, Tomar-Re (voiced by Geoffrey Rush) is a bit like a fishy version of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) is…well…I don’t know who his WARS counterpart would be but the dude is awesome. All of the stuff on Oa is grade-A comic book goodness. The constructs, the look of the world, the Guardians, Hal’s first moments with the suit, his learning to fly, loved all of it. Could’ve spent the whole movie there with Hal being trained by Kilowog and learning about how the Corps are basically the galaxy’s police force and…
…that’s not what happens in GREEN LANTERN. No, Hal gets the ring and the lantern, says the oath, gets whisked across the universe for a ten minute peek at what would’ve been the greatest GREEN LANTERN movie a fan could’ve ever wanted and then he promptly quits because he has daddy issues. WTF?
It’s at this point, roughly forty minutes or so into the movie, that Hal returns to Earth and the whole movie turns into FANTASTIC FOUR: THE REVENGE OF HECTOR HAMMOND. That’s not to say there isn’t good stuff snuggled away in the remainder of the film (Hal only returns to Oa for a final victory party that, I swear to God, recycles footage from an earlier scene) but most of it is masked by a crushing feeling of boredom. For a movie that reportedly cost nearly 250mil to produce, I can’t help but wonder where all the budget went. Most of the big action beats are oddly stage-bound (a fight inside a hangar, one inside a military facility, one in a small section of a sprawling metropolis) and the ones that aren’t (the uber-geeky space fights) are so abbreviated that one has to wonder if there is a longer cut of this sitting on the shelves over at Warner.
Ryan Reynolds, fortunately, is the best thing about this flick. Actually saves this from being a complete wash. Dude knows how to play hero and, when the movie isn’t damning his performance by saddling him with unnecessary emotional baggage, he makes for a great Hal Jordan. Maybe the sequel will actually give him something to do other than deal with daddy issues (a plot point that goes nowhere), family issues (a brother, sister-in-law and nephew are introduced early on and then promptly forgotten about), girlfriend issues (wait till you see how many times Lively has to give him a pep talk on why he was chosen to be a Green Lantern) and his maverick attitude (dude crashes a trio of multi-million dollar aircrafts just to prove a point).
In case you haven’t already figured it out, Hal has issues and a sequel to this would be best served by ditching all of them from the get-go. Unless there is a point to having your lead have a dead father and squabbling siblings, don’t put them in the movie! Get to the good stuff, the Lantern stuff, and give the audience what they want. That’s why you spent 250mil on the damn movie! Ack!
And, seriously, what is up with Blake Lively? Say it with me: consistency. Gal’s performance is all over the map. The early scenes with her are flat and painful, almost to the point of being unwatchable. Then her performance evens up and she’s becomes semi-decent. But, by the time the finale rolls around, we’re back to slightly boring and definitely not in-tune with the rest of the film. Did I mention that director Martin Campbell actually saddles her with most of the big emotional moments in the film? That he, along with the screenwriters (seven credited!), actually decide that Carol needs to be the voice of reason in Hal’s head? I’m not kidding. Hal keeps wanting to quit and Carol is the one who convinces him not to, convinces him to be the hero that he has always been, convinces him that his daddy is dead and it’s time to go lay the smack down on the giant space cloud demon (a clear copy of the Galactus cloud featured in RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER) that is about to consume every man, woman and child on planet Earth. All this would’ve been fine and dandy (I guess) if the performance worked, but that’s the thing, Lively doesn’t sell it. The only thing that she gets right (outside of a couple of moments mid-way through the film) is that she is very nice to look at and looks good as a brunette. Get this gal some acting lessons before the sequel (if there is one) rolls around.
Plot holes! So many plot holes! Somebody please explain to me why Hal Jordan would keep a picture of his father with him at all times so that every time he sees it triggers the memory of his father dying. Please explain also why he would keep in the cockpit of his plane so that every time he sees it he can go into said flashback and, oh yeah, crash the plane he’s in. Doesn’t make sense. Neither does the fact that Hal is later referred to as the best Green Lantern ever despite having only received a few hours of training.
Oh and did I mention that Hector Hammond (Pauly Shor…er, I mean, Peter Sarsgaard) actually murders an entire facility of military personnel and his senator father (Tim Robbins) at one point and then…get this…just goes home to take a nap. No joke, dude kills all those people, goes home to sleep and nobody thinks to look for him there. Thank the movie gods that Sarsgaard is having fun playing super villain and that he doesn’t let the incredible amount of nonsense his character is bogged down ruin him. I definitely dug Hector’s big moment in the lab. “Run” he said with a smile. Cracked me up.
Okay, okay, okay, I realize that I am being quite harsh on this flick and that it sounds like I really hated it. This isn’t what I’m going for with this review. I didn’t hate GREEN LANTERN. I was disappointed by it. Watching it, I could see where the movie could’ve gone and how these actors could’ve pulled it off, but it feels like Warner wasn’t fully ready to commit to the material. Had the flick been 50/50, 50% on Earth and 50% on Oa, it might’ve worked. Worked for THOR, so I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t work here. Unfortunately, the spread the more like 85/15 with Earth getting the largest chunk of screen time. Because of that, GREEN LANTERN teases you with greatness and then delivers a heaping helping of “been there, done that”.
That’s the issue here, most of the stuff in this flick has been done before. The Oa stuff is fresh and new, but the Earth stuff plays out like outtakes from FANTASTIC FOUR. We’ve seen helicopter crashes before (RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER), dogfights with airplanes (IRON MAN), battles in hangars (every b-actioner of the last twenty years) and fights in giant labs (HOWARD THE DUCK?), so why rehash it? Why not bring something fresh and new to the table? Campbell and company definitely had the money and the opportunity to do so, but they blew it. Blew it so they could deliver a solid middle-of-the-road comic flick that pales in comparison to what audiences (X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, best X-flick ever) have already seen this summer.
GREEN LANTERN gets three out of six adamantium bullets. Decent, but nowhere near as good as it could’ve been. Skip the 3D (didn’t notice anything worth paying extra for, save for a trippy opening credits sequence and Blake Lively's cleavage), be sure to stick around during the end credits and don’t forget to shut your brain off. Now that the set-up and origin is out of the way, here’s hoping the sequel can bring audiences all the intergalactic goodness that they thought they were getting with this one.