Film Review: Green Lantern
Warner Bros. needs to hit a rich vein of income. I know it, you know and, most of all, Warner Bros. knows it. With the Harry Potter franchise wrapping up and having delivered almost a billion dollars in income annually for almost the entire last decade, its absence will leave a gaping hole in WB’s finances. DC Comic‘s Green Lantern is their latest attempt to jump-start a franchise, but judging by this first effort it’ll crash and burn before even getting off the ground.
Ryan Reynolds stars as no holds barred cocky test pilot Hal Jordan who inherits the title of Green Lantern from Abin Sur, played by Temuera Morrison, who is fatally wounded by fear incarnate Parallax. With Earth in danger Hal must take on his new role, overcome fear and utilize the power of will to defeat the treacherous beast.
Reynolds is his usual witty, clever and sarcastic self. Blake Lively, as his boss/love interest Carol Ferris, provides the standard performance for such a character, a far cry from her fantastic turn in The Town. It’s Peter Sarsgaard who has the most fun of anyone in the movie as Hector Hammond, a scientist who receives telekinetic powers along with an enlarged cranium from an alien infection, chewing on the scenery left and right in full-on camp mode. Seriously, you might wonder if he walked in from the set of some other film that’s way more fun than this one.
Mark Strong, Michael Clarke Duncan and Geoffrey Rush play the alien Green Lanterns and are pretty much only given the role of handing out exposition. Rounding out the cast is Taika Waititi as Hal’s comic relief friend, along with Tim Robbins, Hammond’s father, and Angela Bassett, as a shady government agent, just here to collect a healthy paycheck. The cast is merely serviceable.
Director Martin Campbell doesn’t seem to be the same man who gave us the fantastic Casino Royale, but that might be due to the fact that he’s working from a script by four people, only one of them having ever written a film before.
The end result is simply an ugly, disjointed mess and the worst kind of bad movie, one with so much potential. The Green Lantern universe is rich with character, imagery and lore, ripe for adaption. While the hero’s power is to conjure whatever he can imagine from his power ring, the filmmakers sadly don’t seem to possess such imagination, as the film treks the well-worn superhero origin story route, and does so poorly. The whole thing is awkwardly paced, rushing things like the hero’s training and final battle while dragging out every instance someone mentions their daddy issues (which seemingly everyone has), and the overall feeling you get is one of the filmmakers knowing where they want to go with the movie, but jumping there instead of taking the journey. This is embodied in an after-credits scene that makes absolutely no logical sense after what has just happened. Clearly the saying “the more, the merrier” does not apply to the number of screenwriters. The movie is just borderline boring for the meat of the short running time and falters when trying to hit basic story beats, another shame because it sets up the more far-out elements of the universe quite well.
Being a big summer blockbuster you might expect it to at least look great, after all, it reportedly cost a cool $200 million to make. Not quite so, as it turns out.
Like the pacing, the CGI is all over the place. Some scenes look really good, such as scenes from the Lantern home planet and the alien Lanterns, while others look like they were cut straight from a PS2 video game, such as the entire opening sequence, where we’re introduced to our villain.
All the talk prior to release was about Hal’s suit of pure energy being entirely computer-generated, but the effect doesn’t completely work. You can never shake off the feeling that you’re seeing something fake, and it often feels like Ryan Reynolds’ head is just floating around. It’s a far cry from the utterly convincing effect used in Captain America where Chris Evans’ muscular body is shrunken down to that of a 90-pound weakling. That you don’t doubt for a second.
On the bright side the production design is really good, utilizing an organic look with a cool green glow and vapor effect for the Green Lantern costume design, and the practical make-up for Morrison and Strong looks fantastic. There’s nothing to say about the cinematography and music, something I find slightly offensive due to my love of the art of those elements in movie making.
Final Verdict: Green Lantern is simply a bad film, one whose greatest crime is wasted potential. It’s not the worst thing ever but Marvel continues to school DC on how to make a superhero movie that doesn’t feature Batman. If you insist on seeing it, go to a 2D screening as the 3D conversion adds nothing.
Review: Sverrir Sigfusson
- Expect ‘Green Lantern 2′ to Be Darker and Edgier Than the First (slashfilm.com)