If it's crap ... We'll tell you
To start this article off, I think I should admit my bias, I’m a Green Lantern fan. I’m not a fanatic. I recognize that there needs to be major changes from the source material when adapting it to film. The question is, will those changes help or hinder the character’s appeal to a mass audience?
First off, the film is horribly edited. Now this may be because the studio cut some scenes to shorten the running time, so that they could get more showings out of it before bad word of mouth hindered sales. Or maybe someone thought the scenes that were cut were boring or repetitive. We’ll have to wait until the DVD comes out to see what was left on the cutting room floor.
Next is that the casting could have been better for almost everyone. Only Mark Strong was perfectly cast as Sinestro, but more on him later. Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan was a mistake. Not that Ryan Reynolds is a bad actor, but he’s not Hal Jordan. The movie trailers make him look more like Tony Stark, and the film itself makes him act like Chris Evan’s version of Johnny Storm/ The Human Torch. Which makes me think that Chris Evan’s would be a fine choice for Johnny Storm (the Human Torch) if Fox decides to reboot their Fantastic Four series. You can’t help but watch this film and think that Nathan Fillian or Chris Evan’s would have made a better Hal Jordan than Ryan.
Blake Lively as Carol Ferris was fine in the film. At least she would have been if they had given her more to do. Something tells me that most of her scenes were on the cutting room floor.
Mark Strong was amazing for the five scenes he was in. You watch this man and think that you could have had one of the greatest cinema villains of all time, if the script gave him something to do. It’s not hard. Even in the silver age, Sinestro was a great villain. He thought through his plots, always had a back up plan and would try more than the same two plots over and over. When DC remade their comic Universe back in the mid-80’s, he was rebooted and given a sympathetic back story, where you could see his reasoning. The film screwed up in his pacing. If producers wanted to make him sympathetic, they needed to make him have a closer relationship to Hal and show the bond between them that was destined to break.
Parallax, was…a…disaster. You know how EVERYONE was pissed off that Galactus was a cloud in the second Fantastic Four movie? Well apparently, no one working on this film had either seen or heard anything about that. At this point it’s safe to say that if your film’s big antagonist is a giant smoke monster, it’ll be a critical flop. (And to fans of LOST, I want to remind you that LOST is not a film.)
Then there is Hector Hammond. Who is a joke in the comics, and is laughable in this movie. I don’t blame the actor, I blame the character. He’s incredibly hard to do right, and judging by the rest of the film, you can tell the producers and writers don’t know how to handle him.
Speaking of writers, there are four of them working on the screenplay. Two of them worked on Dawson’s Creek, and one worked on Heroes and the pilot episode for No Ordinary Family. Only Michael Goldenberg whose previous work includes Contact (1997), Peter Pan (2003), and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), gave me any hope at all for this. And out of all the writers, he’s the only one not credited with developing the story or plot.
The problem is that most of the people involved don’t seem to care for this character. Ryan Reynolds does, sure, and at least one of the writers (I’m guessing Goldenberg,) tries to slide in a few nice touches. But the director and producers and pretty much everyone else involved (except for Mark Strong) just seems to treat this film like it’s just another job, and assume that the fan base will propel this movie too success.
Well, twelve years ago they would have been right. But the first X-Men movie was the last time you could have generic and bland heroes and expect audiences to be excited about the results. Once Spider-Man hit theatres, the standard was raised so that anything that came out before it would no longer be acceptable, and the quality of the Green Lantern movie is one that should have pre-dated Spider-Man.
It’s not an awful movie, but it’s not good either. It’s one that was pieced together by a bunch of film executives that haven’t read the comic in the last twenty years and figured that superheroes are in right now, so if they took a popular hero and threw a simplistic graphics packed movie around it, people would flock to it, and they’d be right, if they did this twelve years ago.
The Evolution of Superhero Films:
Producers will look at this, and the domestic gross of X-Men First Class and Thor and say that superheroes are starting to go out of style. They (the studios outside of Marvel and Sony) will probably try and do one more big budget Superhero movie that no one has heard of and stick it on the big screen before they convince themselves that America’s interest in Superheroes is over.
But they’d be wrong. It’s not that superheroes are going out of style; it’s that fans are demanding more complex and mature stories to go onscreen with their heroes in tights. It doesn’t have to mean that every superhero film should be an Oscar contender like The Dark Knight. Superhero stories are becoming a genre, (or at least a sub-genre of action,) and should diversify to show that.
One of the main weaknesses of this film was that it spent too much time on Earth. The first fifteen to twenty minutes should have been on Earth, then the rest of the time should have been Hal flying through space and shooting things up Star Wars style, maybe returning to Earth at the climax when the bad guys realize where he’s from and that Earth is vulnerable to attack.
The idea that there had to be a romantic plot seems forced and outdated too. If there is a romance, make Hal Flirt with an alien, and feel guilty about the girl he left behind. And for those of you that say people won’t respond to human’s going after aliens, I suggest you look at the office records for a little film called AVATAR. In fact, if you look at most successful superhero movies of the last decade, they’re the ones where the romance is played down.
People’s tastes and expectations are evolving, Hollywood’s isn’t. (At least it’s not evolving as fast.) I’m hoping that the Green Lantern is just a misstep in what will be a large and successful (sub)genre for years to come, and that the studios will learn from their mistakes. Of course, Hollywood has a history of not learning from its errors. Maybe they need to face their fear of the unknown and listen more to their audience. Of course, I fear they don’t have the willpower to pull that off.