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REVIEW: “Green Lantern” Manages to Shine
It’s always tough when you decide to bring a comic book franchise, that has been a fan favorite for decades, to the big screen. It can be exceptionally hard when it hasn’t been done before. That was the case when DC Comics and Hollywood decided to bring the character of Green Lantern to the big screen.
To the average person, Green Lantern may not be very well known. His powers are a bit odd, but kind of cool. Everyone knows who Superman is. They know he is super strong and he can fly and is invulnerable to everything but Kryptonite. Everyone knows Batman and that he is, in reality, Bruce Wayne and that he fights really well and is a super-detective and uses cool gadgets and an awesome car to defeat bad guys of all shapes and sizes. People know that Spider-Man is, in reality, Peter Parker and that he can stick to walls and ceilings and swings around with webs and stuff like that.
Those guys were staples of Saturday morning cartoons. I am willing to bet that there are people who know more about Aquaman having watched those cartoons than they do Green Lantern. Green Lantern was not a regular part of the Super Friends and even when he was on, they completely screwed up his powers.
Then, just to make things even more confusing, Green Lantern (along with the Flash and a few others) were other people and had different origins when they were first created. Originally the Green Lantern was a guy who wore a red cape and red tights and was named Alan Scott. Then, when the popularity of super heroes waned, he was dropped and, when the popularity of super heroes re-emerged, he was reborn and rebooted.
Suddenly the Green Lantern was hotshot test pilot Hal Jordan. He is chosen by an alien to become the first human representative in the Green Lantern Corps. They are kind of intergalactic police force who all use their power rings to fight for truth and justice, if not always the American way.
So, what are his powers? Well, the power rings are powered by will power. As long as a Green Lantern can overcome his fears and keep his will power strong, they can do amazing things with their rings. They can travel over intergalactic distances. They can also manifest constructs of greenish light, producing anything they can imagine, fully functioning and in existence as long as the Green Lantern wills them to be. So, giant fists of green light to punch the bad guys, shields, and power blasts were common.
Green Lantern had a long and stories career in the pages of the comics. He has been partnered with the Green Arrow. He has been apart of the Justice League. He was a part of the Justice Society of America. He is a beloved character by fans. However, when you make a mass-market movie, you don’t want just a relatively small contingent of diehard fans attending your movie.
So, now, with the popularity of the super hero movies, the big screen welcomes old Greenie in the big-screen adaptation of “Green Lantern.” The man wearing the tights and bearing the ring is Ryan Reynolds. He takes up the mantle of Hal Jordan, the hotshot test pilot, who is chosen by the rings itself, at the behest of a purple alien, to become part of the intergalactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps.
At the time of this writing, the movie has been out for a few weeks. It, so far, has not performed up to expectations. The critics have been harsh to it, and the diehard fans have expressed their disappointment. That’s what happens with diehard fans. They are very hard to please.
I did not read Green Lantern comic books. I read Justice League and things like that and always knew Green Lantern as a periphery character. So, I did not have as much of a vested interest in the movie as some of the diehards. I knew that the movie was not going to be as good as The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 2, or Iron Man, the three great standards when it comes to comic book movies. All I wanted was a movie where the good guy was good and that the green light construct were kind of cool, the special effects would be decent, and there would be good action.
So, for me, “Green Lantern” worked. Reynolds is just a likable actor. He brings a kind of cockiness to each of his roles and seems to be having a good time no matter who he is playing. He even had a brief stab at playing in the comic book role in the movie “Wolverine” where he played the character Deadpool. He was one of the bright spots in an otherwise forgettable film.
The one problem the movie has is in the villain department. At the same time, the Green Lantern’s villains are not nearly as well-known as villains like The Joker and The Green Goblin or even Lex Luthor. I happen to know that his arch nemesis becomes a character known as Sinestro, who eventually handles a yellow ring, but in the early stages Sinestro was a good guy, and he is in this film.
So, we get Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond. As a villain he is anything but frightening and just comes across as a nerdy guy who suddenly finds himself with vast mental powers. Then his head gets giant and lumpy. I had to look him up on Wikipedia to even find out if he was really a villain in the comic books (turns out he is).
The real villain is the rather nebulous entity known as Parallax. However, like the villain in “The Fifth Element” it is essentially just a giant ball of evil. Well, to be fair, it is more like a giant ball of fear. As far as villains go, there have been much better in other comic book movies.
Also, the movie does introduce a few elements that seemed like they could have rounded out Hal Jordan a bit more, but were quickly dropped. This may mean people were counting on the movie being a hit and were hoping to flesh these out in a sequel. However, this is always a bad thing and looking for trouble when making movies. For example, we get an interesting scene between Hal Jordan and his nephew, but then we never see the nephew again. I was kind of hoping for a scene between Jordan and the nephew once he officially becomes the Green Lantern.
However, these are small quibbles. Overall, I liked the movie. I had fun watching it. I enjoyed myself. Did it leave my heart pounding and me wishing for more like after I watched The Dark Knight? No, but that’s a little too much to ask from every movie.