Retro Review: Green Lantern Takes Flight!
With the summer film season almost upon us, I decided to go back and take a look at one of last summer's most anticipated CBM's!
Green Lantern turned out to be one of the more contested movies of the summer. Like all comic book movie adaptations, it will have some who love it and some who hate it, but that split here was more noticeable than most. Fans are really split, most critics were apathetic at best, but the fact is Green Lantern was a decent movie. Flawed, yes, but it was fun with s number of good action scenes and awesome visuals. People are going to take exception with the fact that it could have, or should have, been great, and overlook its redeeming qualities, of which there are many.
First off, Peter Sarsgaard did a fantastic job as the main antagonist of the film. He exuded a very creepy aura even before he was infected by an alien parasite. The only disappointment is the attempt at building an emotional link between Sarsgaard's Hector Hammond and Hal Jordan. It seemed like an afterthought and didn't play very well. But Sarsgaard was still able to hit all the right points as Hammond, being creepy and scary when he needed to be, and then able to switch to being violent and enraged at the drop of a dime. And he did it all while holding on to a thin shred of humanity. He never truly seemed like a monster, but more like a man caught up, almost just a victim of circumstance. And how the film juxtaposed the evolution of Hammond alongside Hal Jordan was quite striking. It made the monster that Hammond became all the more terrifying.
And then there was Ryan Reynolds. His portrayal of Hal Jordan, the first human Green Lantern, was better than I thought it would be. There were probably better choices for GL, but none were as big a star (Nathan Fillion is the baddest man on the planet, but his name recognition is nowhere near where Ryan Reynolds is and was). Most thought Reynolds was a disaster waiting to happen however. While I still think he is better suited to a more comedic hero (Deadpool), I do think he proved that he had what it takes to wear the emerald ring. He has the dramatic chops to make Jordan seem sympathetic and and show us the flawed and scared man Jordan was at the start, and was able to pull off the transformation from douche to hero. Reynolds did especially well while in the throes of this trasformation. A scene that showed him outside a bar, getting pummeled by former colluegues, shows his fearless nature and show the man he can be. Although it bordered on self- destructive, he "manned up" when he got back to his feet to challenge them, and it was when the ring first responded, granting him its power. This was one of the best scenes in the film.
And Reynolds reiterated he can be an action hero. He was believable as a hero, and the fight scenes were good, if a bit underwhelming at times. Especiallyn the climactic battle where he fought what was essentially a giant, soul eating cloud of death. The visuals were very cool, but that fight was a big let down, but how else could it go down with what they had set up?
The CGi helped this film a lot though. Green Lantern has some of the best CGI I have seen in a movie. The suit, at first looked a little hokey, but it was easy to get used to, and grew on me. Everything from the world of Oa, the home of the Green Lantern Corps and the Guardians, to the race track construct Hal Jordan used to save a party striking(if corny).
And on the subject of Oa, all that can be said is that there should have been more. Hal Jordan is whisked off to the intergalactic police station for his grand entry into the corps. What we get though is a rushed training sequence with some notable comic book characters thrown in there. This was also the first glimpse of Sinestro, played here by Mark Strong. The overall depiction of Sinestro was... disappointing. He had the gravitas needed, but there was just something missing. Sinestro is supposed to be the penultimate villain of Green Lantern, but you don't ever really see any reason for his fall to the dark side, and while there is an attempt to build animosity between Jordan and Sinestro, it just falls flat.
And that is symbolic of a larger problem with the film: pacing. It just didn't flow very well. From the start, you want to get to Reynolds flying around in space and kicking some evil, fear-cloud ass. But the story takes too long to get us there, and by the time it does, we barely spend any time there before being whisked back to the doldrums of earth. Things got interesting at the end of the second act and the third was done very well, but it was a tough recovery from the slow moving first.
And then there is Blake Lively. While she is some fantastic eye candy, and she acted well enough as the damsel in distess/heroine, but she is just too young. She wasn't believeable a top business executive/fighter pilot. And while she had some chemistry with Reynolds, it was enough to make the pairing pop. She just wasn't right at Carol Ferris.
For comic book purists, there is a lot of Easter eggs thrown in, but at the same time, there is some noteable changes to Green Lantern lore. These were nessacary though, to make the story of translate easier, and they don't really detract from the experience, and there aren't any huge liberties taken.
All in all though, this was a fun ride. Dazzling effects and humourous, weird looking characters will keep the kids entertained, while the drama and the action come up strong enough to hold the attention of adults. It could have been better, but for what it is, its fun. An exhilerating ride with an entertaining, believable lead, along with rocking visuals make for a fun couple hours. It may start out too slow, but things eventually pick up, and the finale is very well done, even if the climactic battle leaves something more to be desired. Even now, I think a sequel is pretty much guaranteed, even though the box office disappointed. It may be a few years away and the budget may be slashed, but I think it will happen. All in all though, this film is definitely worth a watch. It may be more "Iron Man 2" than "Iron Man", but it shows potential and will leave you more satisfied than not when all is said and done.
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