If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Mr. Quizno's half-assed review: Green Lantern
Let me say right off the bat, that I'm not a huge fan of DC's superhero universe. I don't hate them, I've just never fully grasped on to it's appeal, like others have. Bear in mind, I can see the appeal plainly. I'm just not fond of them, as much as I am Marvel. However, I would say DC/Vertigo are phenomenal in handling other genres in comics. They have several series off the beaten path of superheroes that are some of the most interesting concepts and stories I've read on either side of the comic pond. Regardless, though, I see these properties best in their own medium: comics. When it comes to movies, I judge the material primarily as a movie, without bias to prior favored or unfavored content.
With the recent surge of super hero comics coming to life in big-budget, celluloid form, these particular comic stories are a dime a dozen. A recent outing that I've had the opportunity to view is DC's Green Lantern, produced and distributed by Warner Brothers pictures. It's a movie that was bashed by critics during it's initial release, and I wanted to see what the big deal was all about.
As far as the Green Lantern series goes away from film, I know some of the basics of it's rich back story. There are several human Green Lanterns. The Green Lanterns encompass the force of will, emitted by a green light. Essentially, each member of the Green Lantern Corp is equipped with a skin tight suit, and a ring, which can form whatever they imagine. The Green Lantern Corp act as the Universe's law enforcement, governed by sectors assigned to each member. They are essentially Space Cops. These "space cops" are governed by the Guardians; tiny humanoid, bulbous headed blue creatures that apparently oversee the order of the universe.
Now that the basic "wiki info" is out of the way, you can set yourself a small understanding of what to expect from this film. Sadly, what you want to expect differs from what the writers and director saw fit. I can only describe this film best as a future B-movie for next generations.
The film centers around Hal Jordan, a cocky test pilot who can't shake the memory of his dead father(a fellow pilot as well), whose death he witnessed as a child. Hal's character is played by Ryan Reynolds. Reynolds is decent, but not the right fit for this type of character, in my opinion. I'm not certain if the Director told him to throw in his wise cracks, or if it was Ryan Reynolds doing it on his own, but from what I could gather, his portrayal was definitely out of tune. I know pilots are cocky, but the Green Lantern corps are space cops. I'd expect they want some type of "unshaken morals" cop quality out of their recruits. Reynolds just doesn't seem to give off that vibe. In fact, there's one scene where he gets in an argument with his brother over an accident(created by Jordan) reported on tv, and from that scene alone, I felt his brother had more of a stern Green Lantern vibe than he did.
His performance or character development throughout the film was weak as well. At no point did I feel this character truly learned something, or overcame his "fear" as the film poorly tried to build on. There are your standard side characters as well: Blake Lively plays Carol Ferris(damsel in distress, with an attempt to make her the strong female business type...doesn't work), Peter Sarsgaard plays Dr. Hector Hammond(deformed bad guy with poorly conceived intentions), Tim Robbins plays Senator Hammond(tanned political d-bag), Mark Strong plays Sinstro(Alien captain of the corps, essentially...a lot of posturing, but no real action from him, which feels completely wasted...more on this later), and Angela Bassett as Dr. Waller(the person in charge of secret operations, aka, DC's Nega-Nick Fury). The characters these great actors are given feel completely shallow, and you can tell through some of their performances, that most aren't feeling this silly story.
Past the acting, there is the shallow story. You see, about 5 minutes into the beginning of the film, I thought it was heading in the right direction. We have an intro that explains a brief origin of the villain(Parallax), and his breakout. The CG looks great here, and I'm getting the feeling that these critics were wrong about this one. This feeling fades quickly, however.
Once we cut to earth, I instantly recognize that I'm watching a film intended for 10 year olds. The plot makes the protagonist out to be a screw-up, reckless womanizer, and we are really given nothing to believe that he has any quality worthy of having the ring bestowed upon him(in a test run, he lets 2 drones take out his wingman(Ferris), all so that he could beat the trial or show them their weakness....how is this a display of will, more than greed?). Worse, the film tries to introduce a side-kick that's completely not needed in this type of story.
If it's one thing I've noticed that makes Green Lantern property so successful with it's readers, it's that it's greatest stories take place away from earth, along with interaction with other aliens across the universe. Instead, the writers felt we needed more human connection with earth. Huge mistake. I think this is what truly kills this movie. Star Wars had horrible acting as well, but it's main draw was the ability to bring it's audience into other worlds and galaxy type settings, NOT remind them that they are human or on earth. The makers of the film tried to say they were marketing this as the next Star Wars, but they completely lost this important facet of sci-fi story building.
When I see the other aliens of the story, I'm more interested in them than I am of the human actors. I want to know about those weird creatures, not about some stereotype character I've seen played out billions of times. The alien corp members try to teach Hal how to use his powers properly on a crash run. This literally takes the span of a couple of hours. Afraid of the weight of his job, Jordan quits(again...Will?). He goes back to earth, fights the baddies, and suddenly masters his powers to defeat Parallax(an evil guardian...thingy); something the combined forces of the Green Lantern Corps were unable to do. Remember, the guy that quit his job after training for ONE day, is able to outperform his whole team, who have quite possibly YEARS of experience in handling baddies, yet they are the universal law enforcement keeping us in tact? Not even the almighty Guardians bothered to lift a finger to stop the giant diarrhea monster! The film loses complete sense, and shoots for same generic ending we've seen several times in the past, sans any creativity.
Then there is the score for the film. What the hell were they thinking? So tacky hard rock music best fits scenes involving the intergalactic space cops? Basically, it's a great example of hard rock being poorly used in a film. Completely out of place, which makes it hard for the viewer to take the already far-fetched scenes seriously.
As far as the picture goes, it's not good at all. As mentioned prior, the beginning of the film made this seem fantastic. But as soon as we get to earth, it's green-screen-lifeless sets galore. The suit designs are too light in normal sunlight, making the blending integration of character models more difficult for the animators along with these sunny environments as well as make the hero seem inadvertently hilarious. The pure CG mask was ridiculous idea, as was the suit. Practical effects would've saved this film tons, to be quite honest. WB only has to shoot themselves in the foot for going with this decision.
The concept design for Oa is horrible. It looked like something straight out of a Looney Toons movie. There was no set structure that made you believe the planet housed advanced species at all. They were basically things flying around in spandex around dreary caves and rock structures. The creative teams behind this should've been ashamed of themselves.
The action sequences lacked creativity as well. Jordan's constructs were childlike. Not to mention, the Alien Lanterns, who kept alluding to considering humans as a young, ignorant species, used HUMAN weapons and creations as constructs, instead of their own. Saarsgard overplayed his character Hammond to the max, with woman-like screams, and the Parallax battles were terrible.
It's kinda' sad, as this property has potential to be great, film-wise, but the powers that be don't quite know how to handle such a strange concept. There were initial reports that it was going to be like a "training day movie in space" type film. That's what I wanted see. Not some weak save the earth film, but something that shows Jordan has what it takes to be a Green Lantern, with on the job training encountering different space threats we've never imagined. It completely missed out on building one of the most important character dynamics of the Green Lantern lore: Hal Jordan and Sinestro. If anything, Green Lantern story lines tends to always come back and center around those two, and this film completely ignores the other half, Sinestro, played by a great Marc Strong. Maybe one of these days, someone will get this franchise right. You can expect it's budget to be tons lighter, but maybe it'll allow the next makers of the film to focus on creativity instead.
Overall, it's a poor film. The story, the acting, the picture, the score...you name it. It's a train wreck of a film and perfect example of mismanaging source material. For the serious film goer, it's a shit film. For the casual film goer, it's a shit film. Martin Campbell(director) really makes a misstep with this one, and I doubt he'll try this genre again.
All in all, I give this film a 1 out of 5 rings(tee hee, aren't I precious)...