Green Lantern

Date Sun, June 19 2011

Green LanternI don’t normally review movies because I find that my reviews of them–and books–tend to be long and rambly. I’m bad at wrapping everything up in a few paragraphs, let alone one like the professionals can. Still, I thought I’d try my hand, once more. This blog could use a bit of variety.

Despite its luke-warm reviews on IMDB and even a mediocre reception from my friends, I quite liked Green Lantern. Ryan Reynolds plays, Hal Lantern, one member of the 3000-some Green Lantern Corps, a team of space cops that mete out justice after the green lantern rings choose them for their willfulness and fearlessness. Of course, all this is completely unknown to humans until the space battles of good versus evil lead a former green lantern to crash-land on Earth and die, thereby giving his ring ring the chance to choose thew new green lantern–you guessed it!–Hal Jordan. The movie follows Hal as he transforms from what even his friends consider an “asshole” to a responsible, yet volatile, green lantern to rise above all other green lanterns and save Earth. Of course he does. How could he not?

Let me start by saying that Green Lantern is the first 3D movie that truly made excellent use of the technology. Other movies have used it and it made me feel as it something was in my way, blocking the movie. I never felt in it. At some parts during Green Lantern, I felt as if I was there. I think the landscape of space lends itself to the third dimension. Of course, color is significant to the story of the lantern corps, green or otherwise, and this film made excellent use of color as a visual element. It was visually stunning and the CGI was done well enough to distract the viewer from the fact that she is watching CGI. It’s not perfect, though, and sometimes it’s almost painfully obvious that CGI is in use, especially when we see Hal Jordan in his green lantern “skin.” In general, the appearance is just a little too fake, a little plastic-y and, in the case of the mask, a little too wet looking. While understanding that this suit is supposed to fit like a second skin (or even be a skin? I’m a little fuzzy on that one), the mask just looks wrong in CGI. Not only that, but it makes Ryan Reynolds significantly less attractive (for some reason he looks like Will Ferrell in the mask) and you probably shouldn’t do that when a huge name is part of your selling point.

And that brings me to what is my roommate’s biggest complain and is certainly an irritant of mine. Ryan Reynolds is not in this movie because he’s a good Hal Jordan, he’s in it because he’s Ryan Reynolds and you just can’t forget that–ever. Ryan Reynolds is playing the same character that he always plays–the guy who gets laid a lot, who has trouble with dealing with his emotions like a man. In short, he is the dick who gets a lot of pussy. We all left the theatre feeling as though this movie was written to cater to the strengths of a big name rather than casting someone who would actually play Hal Jordan. Even I felt that, despite my limited knowledge of the character. The major issue with this is that it’s hard to root for the guy. I’m not the only one to use those very same words. In fact, in more places than one, he reminded me of my ex-husband. Yea, that’s not a selling point!

The second thing that the writers obviously tried to do was a bit of foreshadowing to neatly tie everything together. That’s why the big ending fits a metaphor from earlier in the movie to a “T,” despite the fact that it makes no sense and the Earth almost gets wiped out before it occurs. Almost. We, the viewers, don’t really care anyway because there’s some definite timing issues. Green Lantern is never boring. It moves quickly, perhaps too quickly. Not only does the viewer not have the chance to connect with the main character, but we never get the chance to feel like the Earth is ever really in peril before Jordan sweeps in to rescue us. In fact, there was almost zero suspense in this movie. There were quite a few explosion and crashes that made me jump out of my skin and served as entertainment to my friends, however.

The hardcore fans are going to tell you that Green Lantern diverts from the actual plotl ine of the source material too much and they’re probably right. It’s just not how it happened. Also, that’s not what the bad guy’s supposed to look like–at all. I’m finding it hard to be afraid of a cloud of dust and it doesn’t lend itself well to action. If you wanted to see Green Lantern to feast your eyes upon a more-than-half-naked Ryan Reynolds and some action, well, you’re only going to get half of that.

This movie does have a few elements to appeal to the comic book fans, however. There is the inclusion of some significant characters, including Sinestro, the Guardian, Kilowag and Carol Ferris. Mark Strong as Sinestro is pretty inspiring, even though Blake Lively’s Ferris is obviously only there for eye candy (but, really, how can it even be that much with her giant mole?). The fans all seem pretty enthralled with Strong’s performance and although he wasn’t the center of attention, we can only hope that he will have a larger role in the sequel, should one happen.

Other reviewers were correct in their analysis: pretty effects do not make this a great movie. However, they do make it worthy of watching at least once more and it just goes to show that 3D’s strength is not in action but in creating breath-taking scenery.

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