Green Lantern

Green Lantern

Directed by: Martin Campbell
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Tim Robbins
Running Time: 1 hr 45 mins
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: June 17, 2011

PLOT: An alien gives a test pilot (Reynolds) a green ring that gives him otherworldly powers. Suddenly he’s a member of an intergalactic core who attempts to keep peace. Now a new power, based in fear, is threatening Earth and the entire universe.

WHO’S IT FOR? Superhero fans. If your lady is charmed by Ryan Reynolds, and it’s hard not to be, then you could convince her to come along for the ride. It’s definitely light like Thor, not heavy like Christopher Nolan’s Batman.

EXPECTATIONS: Just like Thor I thought they had a lot to pull off with this superhero. He’s tougher to explain. But Green Lantern had Reynolds, Thor didn’t.

read Calhoun Kersten’s full scorecard review of Green Lantern

SCORECARD (0-10)

ACTORS:

Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan/Green Lantern: Damn he’s got charm. Reynolds has proved he can make a romantic comedy better than usual (The Proposal, Definitely, Maybe) and now he’s proving he can help us through a crazy superhero flick. As Hal, Reynolds is able to harness cocky and compassionate. Hal tries to act like nothing matters and he has no fear. For a while, you believe that. Then you realize Hal is carrying around baggage just like the rest of us, except he gets a fancy green ring that can do pretty much whatever he imagines.
Score: 8

Blake Lively as Carol Ferris: She doesn’t derail this film, but she doesn’t bring a lot to the table either. Look, it’s tough to fit in a potential relationship when you’ve just been told you’re a superhero, there are thousands of different worlds, and the manifestation of fear is trying to destroy everything. So, when Carol comes along and the flirtation begins, it just slows down the movie. Luckily, there is at least one hilarious moment. I’ll just tease it here. Carol comments on Green Lantern’s mask. It’s a moment that points to something every adult and many kids have thought about superhero disguises. She’s always going to be easy on the eyes, and luckily she doesn’t bring any of that “Gossip Girl” character with her, but she also never showcases her true acting talent like she did in The Town.
Score: 6

Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond: First, Sarsgaard captures “awkward adult” extremely well. He’s a guy who would be happy sitting in front of five computer monitors. He also pines for Carol, so we’ve properly got ourselves a damsel in distress. Once Hector is infected, Sarsgaard drifts over to the “insane” pretty well. The odd thing is here, we’re never sure if Hector is our main villain, becoming our main villain, or just a side distraction. This is never Sarsgaard’s fault, but that of the screenplay.
Score: 7

Rest of Cast: Angela Bassett is simply there in the film, much like Rene Russo is simply there in Thor. You can’t point to a scene and say Bassett nailed any moment. Tim Robbins plays Hector’s dad and Senator Hammond. It’s a small role and it would have been great to see him go nuts, or play for some laughs just for a little bit. Mark Strong, Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan all play other Green Lantern’s. Strong’s Sinestro is the lantern leader and he’s totally worried about a human trying to help. If you know the comics, you’ll know them. Rush also narrates the beginning and end of the film to great affect.
Score: 6

TALKING: The really try hard to create the bigger universe in the beginning. It could end up immediately dividing the audience into the “like” and “dislike” departments. Since I know Green Lantern is a superhero fantasy flick, I fell on the “like” side and went along for the ride. Reynolds brings his trademark, quick-witted, quiet snark to the role. When someone tells him to watch his back, Hal’s reply, “That’s impossible, Bob.” It’s an ordinary line made better by the delivery of Reynolds. Hal’s reason that another pilot didn’t get selected ahead of him, “He’s busy not being good enough.”
Score: 7

SIGHTS: It’s a cartoon, and that’s a compliment. I really liked the look of this film. It never felt too busy, and we’re talking about a movie where green race tracks, green fists and green fighter jets can pop out of nowhere. The movie starts in a CGI/animated world and I think that helps, because you’re ready for Hal to join it. Plus, they didn’t just rely on CGI special effects here people. Hector Hammond, and his big brain, looks awful. It’s a nice difference to how perfect Hal looks as a superhero. Also, when the fear known as Parallax comes strolling to town, check out the detail. You’ll see plenty of screaming souls. I had no problem with the 3D, and thought it was mainly high quality, but I didn’t have to pay extra.
Score: 8

SOUNDS: The musical score taps into some Inception inspired bass. Bass didn’t exist until the Inception score, we’re all in agreement of this, right? The soundtrack is mainly oldies but goodies. There’s never really a reason for this, plus no song really seems to be given a moment except for a slow dance between Hal and Carol.
Score: 5

PLOT SPOILERS

BEST SCENE: The final battle. Isn’t that exactly what you hope for in a superhero movie? Hal must overcome, his chances look grim, and he comes up with some nice imaginative ways to try and defeat Parallax.

ENDING: After the battle, we once again get to see the playful charm of Reynolds. There is a little something after the end involving Sinestro. Once that scene is over, you can leave. There’s not after the end credits.

QUESTIONS: Green is will. Yellow is fear. What are the other colors? For everything the film did tackle, there’s some Green Lantern things that weren’t really explored. Doesn’t his lantern occasionally run out of juice? Why couldn’t I have had 20 solid minutes of Hal training with the ring? What are the limitations of the ring’s power? Why not send all 3,600 green lanterns to kill Parallax?

REWATCHABILITY: Just like X-Men: First Class, I will be totally helpless to watch this film again once it’s on cable, but I probably won’t schedule a time to see it again.

OVERALL

Batman has a belt. Spider-man can shoot webs from his wrist. Superman is almost indestructible. So why can’t we have a guy with a magical green ring that can use his imagination to create anything, and there are 3,600 others who wear rings and protect the universe? I know it’s more to ask the audience to go along with Green Lantern, but the most important thing here is that this film gives you the chance to believe.

Green Lantern does run into some of the same problems most first-time superhero movies have problems with … the villain. After explaining Hal, the ring, the lanterns, the gods, the worlds … it doesn’t feel like there is time to create a compelling villain. The issue here is, there seems to be too many potential main villains to figure out exactly what the movie has planned.

At the center of this all is the charm of Ryan Reynolds. He’s on full display just as much as all of the eye-popping special effects, and no I’m not even talking about his superhero costume, which is all CGI. I haven’t grown tired of guys being shocked when they discover they have special powers. Plus, with Green Lantern’s imagination, I was always curious what would come next. There is a hint of how I remember the TV show “The Greatest American Hero” here. It’s whimsical and never takes itself too seriously.

You’re the chosen one. Will is stronger than fear. You must admit you are scared in order to overcome it. These are basic superhero fundamentals on display in a movie that takes you around the universe. The eye candy of Lively, Reynolds and the special effects doesn’t hurt either.

You can believe in the Green Lantern.

FINAL SCORE: 7/10

2 Comments

  1. Dan O. says:

    Fortunately, Ryan Reynolds’ combination of suave self-assuredness, seasoned comic timing and old-fashioned ability to kick butt outweigh the film’s minor flaws to make for a satisfying cinematic experience that just screams sequel. Good Review!

  2. Adam F. says:

    Even not having seen the film yet, this is the first intelligently written review I’ve read that comes down on the positive side. The others (like the one quoted in comment 1) have been little more than plot summaries or lists of quotes. Most of the other smart ones have been less favorable, but to be fair there haven’t been many smart ones. What are my criteria for deciding a smart review? The reviewer takes the film for what it is – instead of making unfair comparisons (pro or con) – and has serious thought rather than flippant sarcasm or fan love behind well-constructed criticism.

    As for your questions: what the other colors are took comic book readers years to find out. No way an origin story could cover it. It sounds like the movie covers quite a bit of ground anyway, which I can’t say encourages me. Still, your review gives me hope that this film might not be a total disappointment for a long-time GL lover like myself.

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