Last weekend I went out with several geeks to tackle the new comic movie, Green Lantern. Of the 4 geeks in our group, only one really liked it. The rest were varying degrees of lukewarm. Two resident non-geeks (female) were both on the same page. So why bother with this review?
I'm the dork who liked it.
Martin Campbell's adaptation is nowhere near the awesomeness that was Iron Man or Hellboy, and it doesn’t come close to the squidgy goodness that was Thor. It was however, satisfying. It's like the Big Mac that you have every now and then when you're too tired to cook yourself a steak dinner; it's not as succulent, but it still hits the spot. Green Lantern is exactly like that Big Mac. Somewhere, there's a big poster like the ones you see behind the counter at McDonald's detailing how to assemble a comic book movie from the prepackaged parts. Start with a bankable star (Ryan Reynolds), add a respected actor as the villain (Peter Sarsgaard), and top it off with a romantic lead (Blake Lively), you know, for the chicks. Scoop in some daddy issues, angst-ridden drama, and purple aliens and you've got a nice prefab hit!
If you’re not familiar with Green Lantern, don’t worry. The film has an intro full of ready-to-eat exposition. Think of Hal Jordan as a Space Cop; he patrols the galaxies in his sector of space, arresting cosmic evil-doers using sheer willpower.
Of course, willpower is colored green and its one weakness is the color yellow. Don't ask.
I liked the film for the same reasons I like that metaphorical Big Mac. It's big, it's tasty, and it gives you that sense of satisfaction, even if you know that it's essentially empty calories.
Ryan Reynolds is much better cast in the role of Deadpool than he is as Hal Jordan, but he is one of those actors I find imminently watchable. I sat through Buried and came out liking the film, even though it's essentially Reynolds in a box for 2 hours yelling into a cellphone. It’s been pointed out that his character is more Kyle Raynor (man trying to overcome fear) than he is Hal Jordan (man denying that he has any fear), but it still works in the context of the film.
Blake Lively as Carol Ferris I'm not entirely convinced of. She comes off too much like Liv Tyler in the second Hulk movie. Peter Sarsgaard was probably the weakest link, not because he was bad, but because Hector Hammond felt so unnecessary; like an excuse to ground the movie on Earth when all we wanted to do was see Green Lantern doing his Space Cop thing.
Aside from the cookie cutter cast, there's also the lackluster CGI. The animation of the characters comes off more like an animated TV series. I also have problems with the character designs. Hollywood seems to think that everything HAS to be complicated to be taken seriously. The worst example is Parallax, the big bad, who looks like a huge pile of shit with a face. If you don't believe me, go to your local Toys 'R' Us and find the " The Final Showdown: Parallax vs. Hal Jordan Figure 2-Pack".
The last sequence was what sold me on the movie, with Hal Jordan fighting Parallax for the fate of Earth. Those shots of Parallax killing thousands and descending on Earth with Hal Jordan the only one to stop him… wow. Despite the fact that it looked like some cosmic deity was having a rather loose bowel movement over the city, the sequence got a dropped jaw and a slow exhalation of breath from me, and the ultimate triumph of Jordan got a quiet "YES!" if not an "AWESOME!".
Green Lantern rates somewhere in the middle of the collection of live-action comic book movies; around where Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Ghost Rider are. I would suggest, however, getting the two DC Animated Universe films over this one if you're new to the character. Both I and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights are far superior films and are more entertaining than the live action version.