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Movie Review: Green Lantern

Updated on December 12, 2016

We are not amused.

Where to begin, where to begin? Oh, sweet mother of mercy, I didn't know it was going to hurt so bad.

SPOILER ALERT: I will be discussing the entire contents of the movie here, including elements of the ending and such. I'm advising that you read this and skip the movie (if you haven't watched it already), but if you're still on the fence then you may want to read no further.

DOUBLE-SPOILER ALERT: This is a negative review. I have little to nothing nice to say, so if you don't think you can handle that right now then you may want to read no further. Also bear in mind that I am writing this from a point of view of familiarity with the characters and I'm going to spend most of my time complaining rather than explaining the content of the movie. If you don't know who Green Lantern is already, you may not follow all that I'm saying here very well, but feel free to enjoy my insulting commentary anyway.

First off, I was originally not going to see this movie. Even as a die-hard comics fan I was never that much into Green Lantern. I liked him just fine, but the only reason I think I ever picked up his book was because it used to co-star Green Arrow who's always been a personal favorite of mine. The previews didn't look very promising to me, and I figured I'd save myself the aggravation and just skip it. I'd just seen Thor and liked it so much that I found it hard to believe that another cosmos-spanning epic of a character that I liked less could measure up. Circumstances intervened and I was shanghaied to this movie by well-meaning friends.

Um... zoinks, Scooby.

I was expecting to at least like Ryan Reynolds in the lead role; I'd heard for a few years that he was slated to play the Flash and when that fell through he got this instead. Substantially different characters, but I've enjoyed his work in a few things and had no reason to dread his performance in this. I was mistaken in this assessment. Mr. Reynolds was (through no fault of his own) given some of the worst dialogue I've ever heard in a movie. I would characterize most of the interactions between the human characters as a series of one-liners and catchphrases rather than actual speech. Add to this the fact the his character was written as an emotionally immature slacker man-child with daddy issues and you've got a combination doomed to failure. I disliked the character's portrayal so much that I can't separate it from the actor doing the job. I just didn't like him. He was trying to be funny, and failing to do so, in a role that shouldn't have had much opportunity for comedy in the first place.

In the theatre where I watched this, the sound quality in general was horrible. Almost all the spoken lines sounded like they had reverb added to them. Maybe that was the theatre's fault, but it never seemed to happen when characters were talking in space or on alien planets, just the human characters on Earth which gave me the impression that it was a flaw of the film itself.

What else? How about the abominable costuming? Was he even wearing an actual costume, or was it just a visual effect? Either way, the textured, layered look that they gave it seemed silly. They also constantly added glowing lines and floating auras around it, even when it didn't seem to make sense to the story; it was distracting. They also seem to have individually designed different styles and textures of the uniform for every single one of the thousands of alien members of the Green Lantern Corps. Can anyone say "waste of budget"? On the upside, the voice actors portraying the various alien characters such as Sinestro and Tomar Re seem to have put a great deal more effort into their performances, and as a result the writers seem to have given them all the good lines. The mask of the costume was even sillier than the suit, especially the way they paired it with freaky colored contacts for some unknown reason. They at least threw in a joke that Carol Ferris (played by Blake Lively), who has known Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) all his life and has in fact seen him naked, was perfectly capable of recognizing him in spite of the fact that his cheekbones are covered. Take that, Lois Lane!

The villains. Oh, the villains. First of all, we have Parallax. Parallax was created in the comics in the 1990s and the name originally applied to Hal Jordan gone bad, when he became power-crazy and killed most of the other Green Lanterns. Later on, DC Comics wussed out and decided it wasn't really Hal Jordan because an alien entity which was actually called Parallax had possessed him and forced him to do it. In the movie, Parallax is sort of a cross between the crappy space-cloud version of Galactus from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Cthulhu from H.P. Lovecraft; I'm actually making it sound cooler than it is. He's kind of a Death Star with a face and voice. Not cool at all. Anyway, Parallax in the film is created by the "yellow energy of fear" (don't ask) which is an opposing force to the Green Lantern Corps' "green energy of will" (ditto), so he sucks the fear out of living things and grows stronger. He also infects a human scientist named Hector Hammond.and begins mutating him until Hammond has a giant cranium and mental super-powers like telepathy and telekinesis. The yellow fear-energy is also used to create a yellow power ring that is revealed (in an Easter egg during the credits) to be the weapon of the soon-to-be Green Lantern gone bad Sinestro. So all the bad guys are tied together by this yellow energy crap. It's a little too pat, like Tim Burton having the Joker be the guy who killed Bruce Wayne's parents in the first Batman flick. Hammond (played quite well by Peter Sarsgaard) makes a decent bad guy here, but he's small potatoes compared to a cosmic monster and Parallax eventually just eats him (no, really). Sinestro is probably the best known of Green Lantern's villains, and he is present here but in his pre-villainous form as one of the leaders of the GL Corps. This all gave me the feeling of "We might not get to do a sequel so throw in everything including the kitchen sink." It seems sloppy. Hammond could have been a big enough threat to carry the movie if they tried.

The holes in the plot are not just gaping, they literally have their own gravitational pull. Why does Green Lantern, armed with a nearly omnipotent weapon that can create anything he can visualize attack Parallax by throwing a tanker truck full of gasoline and then creating (ahem) an anti-aircraft machine gun out of green energy in order to shoot the tanker truck and cause it to explode? Why not just blast him with energy from the ring since it's supposed to be so much more powerful than gasoline? Why are the Guardians of the Universe so concerned that Parallax is going to wipe them out, and willing to send a squad of their best to hunt him down (unsuccessfully) but then decide to sit back and watch while perpetual screw-up Hal Jordan tries to single-handedly stop the monster from attacking Earth? Why not send the whole Corps at once? After all, Hal destroys Parallax by tricking him into flying into the sun. Couldn't three-thousand Green Lanterns have accomplished something like that? Why are we told that Parallax is this world-destroying thing that erases entire civilizations, but when he arrives on Earth he attacks... the downtown area of the rinky-dink mid-sized city adjacent to the airbase where Hal Jordan flies planes? Why not just ATTACK THE WHOLE PLANET?

They also tried to shoe-horn in an unrequited love triangle subplot with Hector Hammond, Carol Ferris, and Hal Jordan and then added that Hector also has daddy issues by miscasting otherwise admirable Tim Robbins as Hammond's sleazy senator father. For a movie with so much crammed into it, subplots we did not need. The scale of the whole thing was also much less than epic. There was no sense of the grandeur or space because most of the action took place in static locations on the surface of Earth or the planet Oa. If Green Lantern has one cool factor going for him it's the fact that he's a genuine space hero and yet he spends next to no time in space. Contrast this with the international feel of a movie like the first Iron Man in which the hero is literally jetting across the globe at a moment's notice to blast bad guys and then play hide-and-seek with fighter jets. I get the impression that despite the clear superiority of his super-powers, this version of Green Lantern would have his scrotum handed to him by any version of Iron Man I can think of.

DC also decided (a few years too late) to copy Marvel's habit of throwing some comics continuity into their movies. Here we have supporting character Amanda Waller and the DEO (Dept. of Extranormal Operations). Here we have the Easter egg during the credits to set up a sequel. What we don't have is any kind of coherent point to including them, other than trying to ape the style of other, more successful adaptations from the competition.

Green Lantern is a character who has gone through many different incarnations in the comics and on television. He has been present in many of the animated series featuring DC Comics' best-known heroes from Super-Friends to Justice League Unlimited and Brave and Bold. He's even starred in a couple of his own. This is good for fans, because it means that we can pick the one we like and ignore the others to some extent. Do yourself a favor and pick a different version than this one. The Amazon links below should provide you with some ideas.

Enjoy yourselves and remember, Mogo doesn't socialize.

If you must buy Green Lantern stuff, these are better than the movie!


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