Monday, 20 June 2011

Green Lantern: A Light That Shines, But Not So Very Bright

There are those summer blockbusters that get you all excited, only to let you down like a snapped elevator cable, while there are those that blow all your expectations out of the water. Then there is Green Lantern. This movie falls short of the excitement level, but neither does it really disappoint. It is a good, solid movie with lots of potential that never gets realized.

I’m going to break this down like the old compliment sandwich technique, first some good, then the bad, then finish with more good. First, the cast. Ryan Reynolds is awesome as a sarcastic, swaggering, irreverent Hal Jordan, who has avoided responsibility like a virulent disease. He brings out the hidden layers of the cocky test pilot and we see the inner demons that drive him. His initial reactions to the ring, the lantern and the Corps are honest, humorous and filled with many awkward, self-deprecating moments.

Blake Lively gives a good, overall performance as Carol Ferris. She comes across as very young in certain spots and I admit I had a few winces, but she surprised me in a rather nice way. She and Ryan had some chemistry that, while not sizzling, was certainly palpable and flowed well with the story. I have to say that in all the super hero films I’ve seen, she gives the best reaction to the costume and alter ego. To put it bluntly, she said exactly what I would say if my boyfriend/best friend came to me in a mask and outlandish costume. And no it wasn’t that kind of reaction, this is PG-13 not R. Minds out of the gutter.

Peter Sarsgaard astounds as the utterly pathetic henchman, Hector Hammond. He’s so awkward, weird and creepy, it’s no wonder he falls prey to the power of Parallax. Diabolical and whiny, I could not wait for him to get his ass kicked. But that is part of the greatness of Sarsgaard’s delivery. He makes you hate Hector, but at the same time the scenes where he’s first changing and able to hear the thoughts of others, you feel terrible for him because you realize, as he does, that people do not like him at all. They dismiss him as a loser, even his own father, and that is a chief motivator for many a villain. Beware the people you make fun of and hold in contempt...

The rest of the supporting cast that includes such heavy-hitters as Geoffrey Rush, Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins, Michael Clark Duncan, Mark Strong and Jon Tenney, is absolutely amazing. However, they lacked the screen time to make more of an effective impression with their characters.

The effects are simply gorgeous. I know I'm no expert and there'll be those that disagree wholeheartedly with me, but I was dazzled and I did not even see this in 3-D. I wanted to go to the HQ planet of Oa and travel through space with Hal. The idea of zipping through the universe in a green sphere of energy at the speed of light sounds like a hellagood time to me. Everything blended and Hal’s first creations are very much what a normal guy might imagine as he starts to learn the power of the ring.

Okay, here comes that layer of bad I mentioned. All the problems can basically be boiled down to two things. First, this movie was way too short. At a running time of only 105 minutes, it seriously lacks the length to plumb the depths of Green Lantern’s story. There are several parts that feel rushed and not cohesive. Like the relationship between Hal and Carol. I think they needed more time together to suss out certain aspects of their relationship. Sinestro, the leader of the Green Lantern Corps has too brief of an appearance to really flesh out his character nor do they give Hal sufficient training time as the newly chosen recruit. Most of the film feels somehow chopped, the transitions hurried and confused. I was hooked on what I saw, but I wanted more and I just didn’t get it.

Secondly, the film suffered from a case of too many chefs in the kitchen. There are four writers on this screenplay and often times the more writers you have on a project, the bigger the chance for ideas to get muddled and left incomplete. There are times where this situation will work, especially when you have a highly skilled director to rein it all in and mold it to his vision, but Martin Campbell clearly was not that person here. I don’t understand. He certainly has the talent as he gave us the Bond films Casino Royale and Golden Eye as well as The Mask of Zorro. However, he just seemed lost, buzzing in too many directions with the material for Green Lantern.

Now for more of the good stuff. There are some very powerful moments in this movie. One scene in particular stands out for me. When Hal is getting beat down by Parallax, almost at the end of his rope, he repeats the oath of the Lantern Corps like a mantra. Color me soft-hearted, but it moved me, I mean really deep in the bones hit me. In that one moment, all my love for the Green Lantern character came rushing to the fore. And might I add there were quite a few gasps and claps from my fellow audience members.

This is a good film and does not deserve the lambasting it has gotten from many critics. Yes, it could have been so much better, but I liked it anyway and will see it again on DVD. Was it totally faithful to the Lantern’s origin? Yes and no, but it’s a different animal than comics. It stays true to the spirit, I think. Obviously, I was frustrated here and there, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed myself. For those out there waffling because of the critics, I say go.

36 comments:

Ella said...

I loved your review; you told us how it was! I find even with movies I am not thrilled about, an impact was made. The storyline, the actors, the costumes, setting, the CGI,I usually find something was appealing, unless it is a horror flick...not a huge fan! I can see the too many chefs tossed this off course. I am glad you shared the positive spin~

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I still might catch it this coming weekend and put Cars II on hold for a few days. A friend saw it and said it wasn't that bad. Just sucks they couldn't do it right, because the DC superheroes are my favorite. And the director has done so well in the past...

Jaccstev said...

Wonderful review, Mel! But I think I'll skip the theatrical release and just wait to watch it on Bluray. Too many superhero out in big screen this year and few of them unfortunately should be sacrificed :)

Matthew Vanacore said...

Nice review. This was the superhero film that I was least looking forward to seeing. It struck me as a very hard to adapt comic book story. Judging from your analysis, the visuals were impressive and the acting was solid. So it seems it was saved from being an utter mess. I'll catch this on my home screen and save my theater money for some other more promising films.

DEZMOND said...

lovely and objective review, Melsy!
I'm watching the film for its green colour, Ryan and Blake :)

Melissa Bradley said...

@Ella Thank you so much! You are so right about the impact of certain moments in movies, even when it's a film that is not particularly appealing as a whole. This movie isn't great, but it's much better than most are giving it credit for.

@Alex I hope you do see it. I, too, love the DC heroes and wish they would do more films for them. Wonder Woman, etc. deserve great films like their Marvel counterparts.

Melissa Bradley said...

@Jacsstev Thanks you! I know what you mean about the glut of super hero films. It is wise to choose ones that will appeal to you more, rather than trying to see them all.

@Matt This was one film I had been looking forward to and really wished they had done a better job. I know Green Lantern's mythology was difficult, but still, it's not like it was LOTR. Maybe Peter Jackson should have done this.

I'm still waiting for Bad Teacher, Transformers and Harry Potter, then I'm done for the summer. LOL I say that now and something else will pop up.

@Dez You will love Blake and Ryan. They really do look smokin' hot together. And I could not get enough of Ryan sans shirt and in tighty whities. ;)

Nebular said...

So, it's not as bad as critics claim it is? Well, that's a good news. I love Ryan, and I will check it out because of him. Unfortunately, I won't be able to see it in theaters till early September :(

Awesome review, and I'm glad you gave it a positive feedback :)

Melissa Bradley said...

@Nebular No, it most definitely is not. :) I think it's a good film that fell short, but I certainly hope this is not the last we see of Green Lantern.

That sucks out loud you won't see it til early September. Damn those distributors! :)

msmariah said...

It's too bad about this film. I really wish it had been half way decent. I was so hoping for more DC comic films other than Superman and Batman. Unforuntately, the new Green Lantern film has done DC no favors.

Brent said...

Great review. It's nice to read one that isn't just joining the scorn bandwagon. It's a likeable movie, due to the actors mainly, but I was disappointed. As you mentioned it was too short and they tried to cram so much into it, they diluted a lot of potential impact. It was funny and fun too. It seemed they were trying to set up a franchise, when I think a tight story on Hal, would've done the trick.

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