Theatrical Review: Green Lantern

So anyway, I’ve been a huge Green Lantern fan for over 40 years now, so when it was first announced that Warners and DC Comics were readying a movie based around the character, I was pretty excited about it.  The more I kept seeing about it along the way, the more enthusiastic for it I got.  This was a big leap for Warners and DC as far as their movies go, even bigger than making movies of such comic characters as John Constantine or Jonah Hex and chancier than the past movies made of Superman and Batman.  Green Lantern was going to fully embrace it’s comic book roots, and as a comic property that’s not as publicly well-known as Superman and Batman, that was a huge gamble.

These days, DC and Warners are really no strangers to taking a huge chance.  They’ve made recent news with the announcement of relaunching their entire line with 52 new first issues with the idea of bringing in newer readers.  The idea here being to give anyone who wants to try their books out a fresh jumping on point, and further with a day and date release of all of their books in the digital playground as well.  This news has been met with both anger and joy.  As a lifelong fan of DC Comics, and one who’s used to seeing these characters got through a lot of drastic changes over this time, I’m actually looking forward to what DC has planned and hope for the best, not only for them, but the comic book industry on the whole.  The Green Lantern movie looks to be the first concerted step in advancement of this plan.  It helps get the word out in it’s own way, even though from the early things I’ve read with fan reactions, it didn’t look like things were going to fare to well.

Green Lantern is the latest movie from director Martin Campbell.  Campbell’s no stranger to taking heroic properties and giving them a fresh movie sheen.  He’s done it previously with James Bond with both GoldenEye and Casino Royale and he’s also done it with Zorro with The Mask of Zorro. Armed with a high-powered cast and a huge budget, could he do the same with this untried comic book property?

Well, I think he has, but more as we go along the way…

As our story starts, we’re told of the Guardians of the Universe and how they’ve managed to harness the emerald energy of the emotional power of Will.  They’ve used this energy to create a galactic peacekeeping force called the Green Lantern Corps made up of alien beings of all sorts.  The Corps does this with energy contained within mystical rings.  The Guardians tried to further their power by harnessing the yellow energy of Fear but with disastrous results.  A being known as Parallax came into possession of the power and caused chaos, but was ultimately brought to justice and imprisoned by the Green Lantern known as Abin Sur.

Parallax has been planning his escape, and when the opportunity presents itself he strikes back at Abin Sur causing mortal damage.  Abin Sur desperately escapes and finds himself dying on a young planet within his space sector, the planet Earth.

From there, Abin Sur uses his power ring to seek out a successor with the biggest qualifier being that the being chosen must have no fear.  The ring finds that successor in a brash test pilot named Hal Jordan.  And from there, the inevitable hijinks ensue…

As I said above, I’m a huge Green Lantern fan and I just had a ball with this movie and I only hope it does well enough in the end for more to come.

Some of the early complaints that I’ve read of involves there just being too much told in this and that it was hard to follow because of that.  Sure, there’s a lot crammed into this first film, but the only way it’s hard to follow is if you’re just not paying attention and either texting or Twittering while you’re watching it.  I had absolutely no problems at all following this.  The only faults that I thought it had were a couple of plot holes here and there (minor in my estimation) and a little bit of a pacing issue with some scenes.  But the sheer enthusiasm of the rest of the film, at least for me, overcomes that.

I’d also read in a few places about a cartoon-ish and cheesy quality to it’s visual effects.  Well, I absolutely loved the look of the movie.  I like how it embraces it’s bright color palette and made for something that looks quite lively. I love the theatricality of it’s visual effects, it doesn’t necessarily look “real” (though what the frame of reference for what is “real” with aliens who use power rings to fight injustice is, I’ll never know) but it does look like a comic book brought to life.  To me, the look of this movie has a real sense of wonder which is what a good comic book should have.

And what a joy to see these characters brought to life.  Ryan Reynolds has the plum role of playing Hal Jordan.  Right off the bat, he looks just like how Hal Jordan looked when he was first drawn by artist Gil Kane and some shots of him in his full Green Lantern regalia bring to mind the work of artist Neal Adams, who made his own historic mark in the comics.  Reynolds’ enthusiasm and drive are evident in every scene he’s in- he looks like he’s having fun with this and for this Green Lantern fan, that was just infectious.

Reynolds is backed up with an extremely strong cast.  Blake Lively plays Carol Ferris, who’s both Jordan’s boss and love interest.  Now Hal and Carol have never had what has been a traditional relationship by any means and I think that’s evident here as well.  Lively looks terrific, has her own drive and certainly has chemistry with Ryan Reynolds.

Mark Strong plays Sinestro, who as this movie starts is considered the greatest of the Green Lantern Corps.  Strong is solid as a rock and I just loved his look.  Green Lantern fans know that more is coming when it comes to Sinestro, and Strong has the right qualities to make that a reality.  Peter Sarsgaard plays Hector Hammond, a brilliant scientist who’s brought in by a mysterious government organization to examine the dead body of Abin Sur and along the way gets infected by Parallax.  Like the rest of the cast, Sarsgaard looks like he’s having a great time here and I thought he was quite effective as one of our two villains.

I made the choice to go ahead and see this one in 3D even knowing that it really wasn’t made with that in mind (and even finding out later that Martin Campbell wasn’t for it at all) and fortunately had the opportunity to see this in a room that was using 4K projection.  The 3D is hit and miss, but still I was glad I saw it that way.  I peeked into a room that was showing it in 2D and even with wearing 3D glasses, the projection in the 3D room was much brighter and sharper than how it looked in 2D.  I don’t think you really need to see it in 3D to enjoy it and if you have reservations and do want to see it, the certainly take the 2D route.

I had a ton of fun with Green Lantern. As a big fan, I appreciated all of the nods to the comics and the incredible look of the movie, which really does bring a comic book to life.  I think it’s cast is terrific and the set-up is there for more films.  For a Green Lantern fan, this is a lot of fun.  Will that fun transfer to someone who has no idea at all of what they’re getting into?  I have absolutely no idea, but I certainly hope that it would.  Regardless, I had a fantastic time with this and as a word of warning, there is one additional scene that runs after the end credits get rolling, so don’t quite walk out right away.

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

19. June 2011 by Darren Goodhart
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