Green Lantern Review
by Bret Dorman
When watching the previews for Green Lantern, you can view one of two types. One showcases Ryan Reynolds doing his “Ryan Reynolds” thing and being silly and sarcastic and goofy. The other showcases a space opera of emotions and visual flair.
Unfortunately, when viewing the actually movie, they use all the best “Ryan Reynolds being Ryan Reynolds” parts in the previews and the whole space opera thing takes itself way too seriously when the fact is this movie could have been a breezy fun romp.
The Story: Hal Jordan (Reynolds) is a super cool fighter pilot with a kind of ex-girlfriend, Carol (Blake Lively). Then one day he gets a green lantern and ring from an alien and he gets to be a super space cop. Meanwhile, Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) is busy kind of being a villain and some big blog is headed to Earth. Jordan visits an alien planet and does some stuff before they all kind of fight. Also, green is the color of will and yellow is the color of fear. Obviously.
The worst part of Green Lantern isn’t its failures, but that somewhere in this movie is a good one. Don’t get me wrong, this movie is a mess on several levels, but its also enjoyable to a certain degree.
Green Lantern, much like Thor of this year, opens with a big speech about what the Green Lantern police force is, how it was made, and who the main bad guy will be. It details all the back story you need to know if you’ve never read the comics, which I haven’t (I’ve only read two issues). But this begs the question “Why do these origin stories need so much explaining?” If this is the start of Green Lantern, why do we need a 5 minute explanation of everything? Can’t all this be explained later? Or visually throughout? Why can’t Hollywood trust people to be intelligent enough to understand what’s happening without having it be spoon fed to them all the time? What’s so hard to understand? The guy makes things from his mind that are green and he can’t use them on the color yellow. Wait… why can’t he use them on the color yellow? Oh, its not explained in the 5 minute monologue that explains everything you need to know. (Side note: I don’t think this movie has him not be able to not use his power on the color yellow. I think it just never is an issue.)
Once we get that crap out of the way, the real movie opens with the main badguy kind of trapped and stealing the fear from some people who wandered upon it for some reason? I don’t know. Nothing in this movie seems to be thought through. Then there is a purple alien and some really cheesy sci-fi spectacle stuff. Just the way he runs around and holds out his hand, ready to make green stuff appear is really comically cheesy. And why not? The movie is about space cops who patrol the galaxy fighting the color yellow. Let’s have some fun with it!
Then there is the human stuff. Hal Jordan says a lot of snappy things and kind of gets into trouble. Yay! Then Jordan gets the green ring from the purple guy and you think, okay, this movie is really going to take off now! But no. This is where the movie starts to take itself too seriously. Once Jordan becomes the Green Lantern all the fun is drained from the movie. Which is a shame because I was actually buying into it for a while…
Even if this movie stuck with its silly tone, there are still some big problems with it. Firstly, the script is really bad. Things happen for no reason or are brought up so poorly. Its like they wrote one draft and didn’t bother to go back and try to smooth things over or make them connect at all. So many times a character, mid conversation, will just say something out of the blue to drive the story forward, with no fluidity between what they were just talking about.
Secondly, Hal Jordan spends the last half of this movie just whining and moping around, kind of feeling sorry for himself. I get it. He’s supposed to be fearless and then he has doubts and then he overcomes them and becomes a real (super) hero! Do we really need an hour of him doubting himself? The more he says he doesn’t want the responsibility of the ring the more I was thinking “Okay, well then give it to someone who does want it so they can use it and something interesting can happen!” But no, he doesn’t want the ring but he doesn’t want to give it up either.
Thirdly, Green Lantern is a stupid character anyway. I don’t get it. Honestly. What’s so cool about a guy who can make green things? The whole concept of it visually just doesn’t work, much like with some of the mutants in X-Men: First Class . The problem with Lantern is that it doesn’t work even in the comics. Let’s say for instance, a building is on fire. What would Green Lantern do? Build a giant fan to blow it out. How is that cool? Lets say a car was racing toward him full of badguys. WWGLD? Not just zap it, no, he would build a really complex set of obstacles that once triggered go off like the game mouse trap until the badguys are stuck in some giant green pudding and he scoops them out with a giant green spoon.
Green Lantern is not cool. He just isn’t. And yet when I was watching him do all his stupid stuff I became more and more interested in just how goofy and non-sensical it could get. Sort of like when I was watching Final Destination (especially some of the sequels) I stopped being so picky on how stupid the death scenes were and became more and more interested in how absurdly over the top and utterly complicated they could get. By the end of this movie, I was cheering for Green Lantern to make the stupidest thing he could think of. I was having some fun.
And like I said, if only the rest of this movie could have been as fun. Quickly speaking, some more problems I had were Hector Hammond ultimately was completely useless as a villain. No characters seemed connected and at one point its referenced that Jordan, Hammond, and Carol are all kind of friends? Yeah I believed that. Most the visuals look okay but there is one shot, the very first shot of Jordan flying, that looks horrific. As mentioned before the movie has no connective tissue and the writing just doesn’t make sense.
What sums up Green Lantern for me is this:
When Jordan wakes up after being inexplicably flung through space to the Green Lantern HQ Planet, he is greeted by a kind of fish guy. This fish guy says he is in charge of sector whatever. To which Jordan says “Sector whatever, with however many planets and a bunch of other facts… wait, how do I know that?” and the fish guy says “The ring gave you all the info you need to know.”
Fine. Whatever. I don’t care. In fact I’m all for speeding this thing up.
BUT then, when flying through the city, the fish guy is pointing out a bunch of stuff and Jordan is like “What’s that?” and “Huh?!”
I get it. Jordan is supposed to be lost, like the audience, so stuff can be explained to him and us. Fine. Whatever.
But then why, just one scene ago, did the writers go out of their way to explicitly point out Jordan’s ring would give him all this info? This lack of attention to detail and literally doing whatever seems to serve the movie at that point and not actually taking the time to go back through and try to make things make sense is why this movie is getting ripped apart by other critics. I understand their frustration. Its lazy and bad and people are going to pay money to see a first draft.
In Conclusion, Green Lantern does, for the most part, suck. Its not as bad as I was expecting. I did enjoy the movie it was kind of trying to be and once I realized the more absurd the Green Lantern’s power could be the more I started rooting for him to use it more often. Is this movie good? No. Is it being picked on a little too much? Yes. Most importantly, is it enjoyable? Kind of.