Notable Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Tim Robbins, Angela Bassett, Michael Clarke Duncan (Voice), Geoffrey Rush (Voice)
Review: When a film makes you unintentionally laugh in the first 5 minutes, it’s hard to recover. Green Lantern as a superhero to me is one of the flat-out coolest, being able to manifest anything imaginable with the power of his ring. Visually, a live action adaptation of the comic could have been a feast of creative delights, but by some bizarro magic actually turned out to be one of the biggest downfalls of Campbell’s Green Lantern. Well, that and a muddled story line, but still Green Lantern drastically under achieved compared to comic book films of late. Many artistic decisions that were made on the film proved to be the wrong choice, and these nuisances distract from the final product. Much as Thor took one of the least interesting heroes and over achieved to a drastic proportion, Green Lantern has the complete reverse effect. Campbell took one of the most interesting comic book icons of all time, and stuck him in a second-rate attempt to cash in on the ever so popular comic book movie boom. I may just be OK with seeing Ryan Reynolds do double hero duty in a Deadpool film (if it ever happens) after this, if it gives him another chance to make his mark on the superhero movie universe.
In the DC comic universe exists an elite group of worldly protectors called Green Lanterns. Every race in every sector of the entire universe has an appointed Lantern, chosen by their ring as a warrior without fear. Whoever the ring picks harnesses the power of unlimited creation, as the ring can manifest whatever the wearer can imagine. The most powerful enemy the Lanterns have ever had to face was the Parallax (voiced by Clancy Brown), who has the yellow power of fear. When the Parallax escapes and sets his sights on attacking the Lanterns on their base planet, he strikes down one of the most powerful Lanterns, Abin Sur (Temura Morrison). Abin Sur crash lands on earth and must let his ring pick someone to take his place, which is where our hero Hal Jordan (Reynolds) comes in. Being a hot-shot fighter pilot with a love of danger, the ring scoops him up and brings him to the dying Abin Sur. Hal Jordan is then forced to accept the fact that a bright purple alien with a super powered ring is passing his legacy on to him, a lowly human. What follows is the origin story of how Hal Jordan fights his demons in order to prove himself, and human kind, to the already established Green Lantern core, while defending earth from the dreaded Parallax and an infected Hector Hammond (Sarsgaard).
So lets start with where this visual eyesore turned for the worst. The beginning. Green Lantern was very CGI and effects heavy during the film, having entire sets of Oa be nothing but CGI. I hate to keep drawing comparisons to Thor, but we all saw that other worlds could be created artistically through real set design. It is possible! Getting back to the intro that explains how Parallax is released from his imprisonment though, the animation work is utterly embarrassing. It looked like a weak rush job and was terribly laughable compared to technology of late. The scene was a complete failure and ultimately set the cheap tone of the rest of the film. Here’s the thing, I didn’t have a problem with Hal Jordan’s manifestations and such as they were in fact creative and fun, as the film should have been. But it was instead the more practical things, like his suit, that were stand out mistakes. Yes, the infamous suit in question we saw ghastly rendered in the trailer that made us wonder if a cleaner version would be put out for the film. Much to all our chagrin nothing was unaltered, and we were given a laughable CGI costume. I understand why Campbell decided to go this route, as the suit is just a manifestation as the rings power and not an actual costume, but surely something cleaner could have been achieved. This suit looked like it was just photoshopped on top of Ryan Reynolds, and was colored in a terribly cartoonish manner; especially Jordan’s mask. It was honestly appalling considering the budget of the film, and is put to shame by real animated films.
Let’s not even get into things like story and acting. Each character had their shtick:
Ryan Reynolds-Whine and complain about being afraid. A lot.
Blake Lively- Do anything to annoy Hal. A lot.
Peter Sarsgaard- Yells. A lot. Really loudly.
Taika Waititi- Try to be cleverly funny. And fail. A lot.
It was all so, just, paper-thin. There wasn’t some emotional breakthrough for Hal in overcoming his doubt and proving himself as a Lantern. There was no epic rivalry between Hal and villain Hector Hammond. Not a smidgen of a love story existed between Hal and Carol. In short, Green Lantern just lacked the depth that superhero films have finally been able to establish.
As a popcorn superhero flick, I can’t say Green Lantern was a total failure. You’ve got your usual “superhero plays around discovering his new powers” scenes and “superhero beats up the baddie” scenes, but outside of that I was anything but impressed with Green Lantern‘s showmanship, or lack thereof. I felt like Green Lantern was dealt with in a childish manner and in the most simple way possible. There was also no validity for the direction Green Lantern went in at times, be it costume choice or setting display. It isn’t hard to get an idea of current standards for cinema goers by seeing other movies of our time, but Green Lantern proves to be unaware of just how stunning CGI animation looks now. Green Lantern itself looked more like an unfinished product than anything, and in a world where your competition is Marvel, you have to bring way more to the table than a Saturday morning cartoon vision. A nice polishing would have done wonders for Green Lantern, but instead this green machine just dully passes by.
Final Rating: 5 weak green manifestations out of 10
The mask, to protect his identity…right.