By: Adam Basciano
Movies for me are a form of escapism. When I go to watch a film, my main expectation is to be entertained. Comic book films work for me because they are popcorn films. They appeal to the masses, and are meant for fun. Many of them are good, very few are truly great, and some are down right awful. So where does DC’ Entertainment’s “Green Lantern” fit in? Green Lantern is a good film and a solid introduction to the characters vast mythology. It is a fun-filled sci-fi/super hero epic, with the entertainment value we’ve come to expect from the genre. I will say that “Green Lantern” is one of the most faithful adaptations to the source material. In fact, it literally looked, and felt like I was watching a comic book in motion. It was quickly paced, and got into the heart of the story right off the bat. The story was mostly told in a linear fashion, with the exception of a few flashbacks. I prefered this, as a lot of movies today have used the device of non-linear story telling far to often. Unlike most superhero origin movies where you have to wait until 2/3 of the movie until the hero dons his costume, Green Lantern gets there pretty quickly. Then there’s the obligatory “hero’s” journey. It’s a plot device used in every superhero movie. Usually, it is glossed over faster than you can grab a handful of popcorn, and before you know it the protagonist has gone from reluctant to superhero. The various battles with Parallax were truly grand scale. In comic books, the heroes often need to battle grand scale earth shattering threats, and the film embraces that trait completely. If I had to describe this film in terms of comic book terminology, this film feels more like a graphic novel that features a complete story from beginning to end, rather than a trade paperback that collects a pile of issues from an ongoing series.
The actors in “Green Lantern” all do a fine job portraying their characters. Ryan Reynolds has a great look for Hal Jordan, but I was concerned that his comedic timing would be better suited for a character like The Flash. I was wrong, Ryan Reynold’s was spot on as Hal Jordan. Sure, there were moments with some one liners, but they were perfectly timed and fit the scene. The cocky attitude was spot on with the comic book character, which is especially evident in the “Drone Dogfight” flight sequence with Carol Ferris. Yet deep down, Hal really does care for those he loves, and Ryan is able to convey that in the scenes with his nephew, and Carol Ferris. Ryan Reynolds had to play cocky, vulnerable, overwhelmed, and confident in one movie. All of which, I thought he juggled swimmingly. Blake Lively caused the most unrest amongst the fan community when she was cast. That’s mostly because to comic book fans, any actress working on the CW isn’t any good. Blake Lively disproved that fallacy. She gave a fine performance as Carol Ferris. I totally bought that she was a fighter pilot and Hal’s boss. She and Ryan had good chemistry with each other. I enjoyed the relationship in this film. It was a strained relationship, but the love for each other was still there. Also, I love how Blake handled the initial discovery that Hal was Green Lantern. That’s how it should be. Carol was freaked out at first. It wasn’t, “Wow, you’re a superhero! Ok, Let’s do it!” The progression of the relationship was legitimate. Ok, now that I’ve said all this, I’m going into “man” mode for a second. Blake Lively looks stunning throughout the film, which in and of itself, made the 3D price worth it!
Two actors who stole the show were Mark Strong and Peter Sarsgaard as Sinestro and Hector Hammond. Mark Strong didn’t even have to utter a word, that’s how much presence he exuded on-screen. Mark Strong disappeared, and all that was left behind was Sinestro. He is dedicated to the Corps and wants to keep them at their best. Mark Strong commands a lot of authority in his performance. Seriously, is that a British thing or what? Reading the comic, you can forget that Sinestro is not a villain in the typical sense of the word. He has strong ideals about the way things ought to be, and the way he goes about implementing them is misguided. While the character fights on the side of will power the entire film, Mark Strong’s performance hints at his ultimate destiny. This is especially evident when he argues with the guardians about harnessing the power of fear into a ring. The power-hungry look in Strong’s eye’s when they present him with said ring, mirrors the comic book counterpart.
Peter Sarsgaard arguably had the toughest role to pull off in my opinion. His performance could have been a camp fest if he took it too far, especially with that giant prosthetic head. Sarsgaard definitely immersed himself in the role. If I had to describe his portrayal of Hector Hammond in one word, it would be creepy. Every time he was on-screen you feel uncomfortable. That grotesque protruding head helps aid this feeling. Then there’s the scene where he’s threatening the life of Carol Ferris. When he sniffs her hair, you get a “perverted sexual deviant” vibe from Hector. Like I said, creepy. Credit goes to the makeup artists, whose amazing work, allowed both Strong and Sarsgaard to truly become their characters, adding to the fantastic performances.
The visual fx in this film are incredible. Oa is a vast planet and looks superb as Hal and Tomar – Re do a fly by tour during Hal’s first visit. The cgi costumes were great and made complete sense in the context of the film. Despite the “basement dwellers” (over obsessive message board posters who whine about everything endlessly) early criticisms of the costume, it is one of the most literal translations of a superhero outfit, right up there with “Spider – Man”, “Iron – Man”, and the original “Superman” films. The blend of complete CGI characters, like Kilowog and Tomar – Re interacting with Ryan Reynolds looked flawless to my eyes. One of the visual pleasures of this film, (aside from the insanely lovely Blake Lively) were the constructs the ring created. In the training fight scene with Hal and Sinestro, the creation of the constructs felt so fluid and natural, as if it was second nature to the characters. On to Parallax. The cloud like form once again became a point of contention for the “basement dwellers.” Many cried that he should’ve maintained his comic book form. Be honest with yourselves, had they gone with the large alien bug like creature, you would have complained that it looked off somehow. Regardless, Parallax was truly menacing. The skull face and the booming villainous voice of Clancy Brown, definitely made for a good combination. As for the “Fantastic Four” comparison. Well, Galactus in that movie was nothing more than a weather anomaly left on the cutting room floor of “Twister”, who had his lap dog the Silver Surfer do its bidding. Parallax could emote (angrily) and when push came to shove, took care of his own business. That brings me to the final showdown. I’ve said this before, but, that was one of the most riveting sequences in a superhero movie I’ve ever seen. I never though such a scene would escape the pages of a comic book and on to the screen, but thankfully it did. Hal using constructs of two fighter jets in space forces back Parallax into the scorching hot sun. This scene ranks in my top 3 superhero battle scenes of all time. It joins the illustrious list of Spider – Man vs Dock Ock on a train, and Superman vs 777 air plane (the only exciting scene in “Superman Returns”).
This is a glowing review of the movie, as it should be, because I enjoyed it. But even I can point out its flaws. The length of the film. When your trying to tell a story with the size and scope of “Green Lantern” 1hr45 minutes doesn’t cut it. Every one of my gripes about the film results from this. Hal’s fear and the trauma of his father’s death was briefly touched on, but could have used more exposition as it is the underlining motive of Hal Jordan’s fear. Focusing on this, would have made the payoff of Hal’s transformation into a bona fide hero all the more worth it. Hal’s training montage could have also used more time. It irritates me that in every superhero film, the bare minimum of training suddenly turns the hero into the best he or she is at what they do. I thought the whole concept of the unity of the Corps was a missed opportunity in the film. Kilowog, Tomar – Re, and the Guardians had roles that felt like glorified cameos. Angela Bassett’s role served no true purpose to the story. A waste of screen time. One of the joys of reading the comic book is watching the Corps unify and battle for the fate of the universe as one entity. Sadly, with the exception of a 20 second scene, this was absent from the film. That is such a waste. Why go through the trouble of rendering all those Corps members if you’re not going to use them? I mean how much more amazing would the final fight with Parallax have been if Hal, Sinestro, Tomar – Re, and Kilowog, all had a hand in taking him down, all the while still giving Hall the ultimate “hero” moment?
I’ve been a follower of the Green Lantern mythology since Geoff Johns revitalized the character. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this film since it was first announced. Critical reception had me fearful that Warner Brother’s had once again botched a comic book to film translation. I can safely say that the film met my original expectations. In a comic book film environment that is obsessed with trying to make every comic book dark, gritty, and realistic, (ps: In reality no comic book character would be plausible, including Batman) “Green Lantern” brings imagination and wonder back to the genre. The film appeals to all ages, and sends a message that everyone can take to heart. The will power that human beings possess is one of our strongest assets, and can always over come fear if we let it. In the long line of superhero films, “Green Lantern” shines brightly, and ranks as one of my favourites.
Overall Grade: 8/10