Out of all this Summer’s super-hero films, Green Lantern was the one I was least looking forward to. After numerous terrible looking trailers and TV spots, my initial perceptions were one of dread. However, as a film critic I believed that a serious approach would be necessary to write a balanced and respectable analysis. Therefore I refused to read any reviews, or discussions prior to my viewing. With a good turnout at the cinema, I sat down and watched. To some degree my lack of knowledge of the Green Lantern franchise may have hindered my ‘appreciation’ of the comic-book film. I imagine that fuller explanations of characters, powers, plot-lines and other elements of the film would be found in the source material. However, as a ‘Green Lantern’ film, it fails to develop anything substantial about the Green Lantern Universe. As a comic-book film, it fails to be enjoyable, entertaining or action packed. And a ‘Summer Blockbuster’, it is certainly not.
The story follows the talented but cocky fighter pilot, Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) as he is chosen to become the first human ‘Green Lantern’. Who are the Green Lanterns? According to the film, they are protectors of justice and peace in the Universe. Each of them carries a ring of pure will-power, that enables them to craft anything they can imagine. However, an enemy called Parallax threatens the Universe as he consumes the fear of populations. Earth and Hal Jordan are now their last chance. Meanwhile, Dr Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) becomes infected with Parallax’s DNA, giving him telepathic and telekinetic powers. He threatens the relationship between Hal and Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), and wants Hal’s powers.
It appears that the film’s plot had been streamlined and simplified for the wider audience. However by the end of the film, more questions had arisen then been answered; Why is one human, ‘newbie Green Lantern’ able to beat an enemy that ‘established Lanterns’ have failed to destroy? Why didn’t they destroy Parallax when they initially captured him? Another big failure was the lack of definition towards Green Lantern’s powers; My understanding is that the ring of power allows Hal Jordan to create anything he imagines in the form of ‘will’ energy. He being a pilot, therefore results in a much more militaristic approach to his imagination. Therefore planes, guns etc. However, it never explains the limits of his power. Why can’t he create a Death Star and decimate anyone? In the end, the Green Lanterns seem weak and unintelligent, and the ‘ultimate threat’ seems feeble. The film's pace is also flawed; the first two acts are far too slow with the third act being far too rushed. For instance; in the third act Dr Hector Hammond becomes evil and suddenly wants Hal’s power. He kidnaps Carol, whilst Sinestro (Mark Strong) and the Guardians of the Green Lanterns craft a ring of ‘fear’. Meanwhile Parallax invades Earth, and Hal comes to terms with his duty and new power. There’s a lot to take on and its all over in seconds, never really fully concluding.
The acting is respectable with Ryan Reynolds performing relatively well, but nowhere near as impressive as he was in Buried. For the most part, he plays the Ryan Reynolds we know from Van Wilder; cocky, and massively unfunny. Yet, in someway it’s fresh to see a super-hero character that isn’t as stern and tragic as Batman, or wimpy as Peter Parker. Peter Sarsgaard, who plays the mad Dr. Hector Hammond, performs well even with the terrible dialogue and a poorly developed character. Meanwhile, Blake Lively’s performance is disappointing after her amazing job in The Town. Here she plays the cliché love interest, Carol Ferris, and is the Vice President of the aircraft company she and Hal are pilots for. Her dialogue is dry, and she has no interesting or significant purpose in the story. She says some lines, interacts with Hal and gets captured by Hector, the typical damsel in distress. Another letdown is Mark Strong, who plays Hal’s mentor and ‘leader’ of the Green Lanterns, Thaal Sinestro. With a weirdly shaped head, and red complexion, Strong gets a considerable amount of screen time. However, there’s no personality or power to his performance. I don’t know whether that is his tone in the comic books, or just bad writing and direction. It’s a real shame as Strong usually gives a well-rounded and memorable show.
The supporting cast is full of familiar faces, but their characters are never fully developed. More than often, we are introduced to an individual in one scene and then nothing becomes of them. The Wire’s Angela Bassett plays government agent Dr. Amanda Waller, however she is introduced, says something and that’s about it. It is only through a contrived and cheap montage of events that we understand anything about her character. Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan lend their voices and play themselves, except in CGI alien bodies. Tim Robbins is forgettable like many of his recent roles, and Taika Waititi is awful as the comedic relief. The majority of the blame is on the writers of the script. As with a lot of recent super-hero films (Thor, X-Men), the script has been the major flaw with the feature. The same is here with Green Lantern. While the actors and actresses deliver, the dialogue is dreadful. The jokes are flat, the speeches are weak and its all very cliché. It manages to transfer the camp, ‘state the obvious’ approach of typical comic-book material, and make it lazier and worse.
Another massive problem with Green Lantern is the lack of action scenes. Action is one of the foundations of any ‘Summer Blockbuster’. From the likes of Michael Bay’s Transformers film franchise, to the recent Harry Potter films, explosions and ‘light-shows’ are employed to entertain and induce amazement in the audience. As I stated in my Thor review, good action-scenes were missed in that film. Yet Green Lantern seems to reduce the lack-lustre approach of Thor and have a ‘camp’, underwhelming tone to its action. Even the final confrontation is boring and over in a flash. For all the build up of Parallax; his ability to defeat the toughest Green Lanterns and consume populations of planets, its all over in a matter of seconds. If a super-hero film doesn’t entertain the audience with over-the-top set pieces and an awesome final battle, then it fails to be a true ‘super-hero’ film.
Linked to the poor action is the ‘below-par’ special effects. CGI has become a big concern with my film-going experiences, it’s either done right or wrong. Green Lantern has some good-looking CGI, especially with the sequences on Oa, but everything else is poor. Ryan Reynold’s costume is laughable, especially his mask. The mask looks like it’s painted on, moving with the facial expressions of Reynolds. It all looks cheap and very unnatural. The end fight with Parallax involves a hell of a lot of CGI, but being shot in wide-angle it looks more like a giant space octopus shooting fireballs at a green speck. It's just looks hilarious.
Overall Green Lantern is far from a ‘Summer Blockbuster’. Its boring, filled with plot-holes and..... its boring. My initial apprehensiveness appears to have been realised, and I left the cinema angry and puzzled. With the Green Lantern franchise having a smaller fan-base when compared to the likes of Batman and Super Man, the film fails to build any solid platform for the public to be interested in the comic-books. A bad impression from a film doesn’t compel people to run to their local bookstore and buy the comic/ novel. In so, Green Lantern fails as a ‘comic-book’ film. And without explosions or interesting/ memorable characters it fails at a being a ‘good’ film. Lets hope DC sees the faults with Green Lantern, and doesn’t feel the urge to make a Justice League feature. God knows what an Aquaman film would be like.
Oh and if you’re taking your film seriously, don’t have the character advertise milk. It makes him look like a pathetic ‘super-hero’: