Monday 20 June 2011
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 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.
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.