Review - Green Lantern

Since Superman, Batman and Spider-man have shown publishers that comic characters can be successful, those publishers have realized that maybe audiences will turn out for the other characters. We've since see films featuring Iron Man, Thor, Ghost Rider, Hulk and X-Men from the Marvel side and really just Jonah Hex on the DC side. While Jonah Hex was relatively forgettable, Green Lantern is a bigger name in DC's stable and really their first attempt at getting more characters on screen. The film of the same name is a rough and uneven introduction to one of more storied characters in the DC universe.

Green Lantern is an origin story, like just about every other comic property that general audiences might not know about. Ryan Reynolds plays Hal Jordan, the cocky, arrogant and all around asshole pilot who's the best at what he does. His brashness almost costs Carol Ferris' (Blake Lively) father's company a lucrative government contract. For some reason, a dying Amon Sur sees something more in Jordan and bestows upon him his ring and corresponding lantern.

Through the requisite finding of oneself Jordan realizes that he is the man chosen by the ring. He parlays this newfound willpower to fight Parallax, the transformed Watcher who succumbed to fear and lay dormant for eons until he finally sucked enough souls to break free of his prison. In the end everyone is happy, Parallax is tamed and Oa can continue being the heart of the Lanterns.

Having read all that, you would think that the film actually isn't that bad. And honestly, it's not as bad as some would have you believe it to be. It is the classic origin story and I know that Warner Bros. and DC Comics have to take some time to introduce an audience that previously knows nothing about Green Lantern. Reynolds isn't completely awful as Hal Jordan, but he's not entirely convincing either. His acting seemed a lot bigger than the role which really took away from the film. I just couldn't buy his character's arc of fear to courage, mainly through a combination of Reynolds' acting and the dialogue he is given.

The writing is very bland. VERY bland. It's more formulaic than anything and it's almost as if the writers knew that event X needs to happen to get to event Y. For instance, there's a scene where Reynolds gets jumped which serves only to reveal to him the true power of the ring. Later, there's a scene where Senator Hammond's (Tim Robbins) chopper is about to crash and Jordan steps in with elaborate ring creations to save him. Both scenes didn't feel natural and really just seemed forced in for the purpose of revealing the ring's power to Jordan and revealing the Green Lantern to the public.

Speaking of Senator Hammond, his son Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) is tasked with performing the autopsy on Amon Sur because of expertise in xenobiology. He gets infected by Parallax via Amon Sur, but it's never really explained why he gets the increased mental powers or how he's a conduit for Parallax. Even more, he apparently has a thing for Carol Ferris, giving him a reason to care about Hal Jordan getting it all. The rivalry isn't made a deal at all until the Hector and Hal speak briefly at a function and it's hard for the audience to care.

Hector's character is an excellent microcosm of the film as a whole. Every scene was deliberately chosen for the simple sake of advancing the plot, even if the scene didn't really make sense when you actually think about it. There are just really strange plot jumps throughout the movie that are a little jarring while watching.

Now, the movie isn't completely without merit. The stuff on Oa was pretty cool and having Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan voicing Tomar-Re and Kilowog worked very well. Mark Strong played Sinestro perfectly, but by now we're well aware that Strong plays a great villain. It's clear that DC is building towards the Sinestro Corps as a sequel with Sinestro lobbying for the creation of the Yellow Ring. Again though, his logic is that the Green Lanterns can't defeat Parallax with willpower alone and is content with trying once and then giving up. How is that willpower? It's readily apparent he wants to become evil so Hal has someone to fight in the sequel.

Marc Guggenheim was one of the writers on the film and he hasn't even written Green Lantern before. Sure, he's written The Flash and he killed Bart Allen. Why was Geoff Johns not tapped to write the script though? Sure, he was on the film as a producer and he was consulted but why didn't he just do it outright. The film sort of mashed together a bunch of different aspects of Green Lantern's mythology, but you have to wonder if it would have worked better had Johns written it.

Again, the film isn't awful. It's just boring. There's a "made for TV" feel to it that I just couldn't shake and it just didn't grab me. I didn't care that Hal saw his father die doing the thing he loved because Hal apparently got over it in the opening sequence. I didn't care that Hector had a thing for Carol just because of a few newspaper clippings in his apartment. I didn't even care about Hal caring about Carol. I just didn't care about anything in the movie while watching it.

The film could've been so much better if director Martin Campbell made it more fluid. When a universe threatening entity is destroyed in about ten minutes that tells me either you ran out of time or that Parallax wasn't the right choice. It's the same thing that happened with Galactus in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. He showed up, wreaked some basic havoc and was then fought off. It just felt choppy and bland with no emotion or care from the writing, the actors or even the Watchers in the movie.

There will definitely be a sequel and DC Comics wants to do with the characters what Marvel is doing. Green Lantern isn't the same step forward for the publisher that Iron Man was. Hopefully this doesn't deter Warner Bros. mining the other characters they have, but you have to wonder if a Green Lantern failure will be a major stumbling block in DC Comics' new push to market everything comic.