First off, allow me to give you a brief chronicle of my experience with the Green Lantern production up until it's release. My initial reaction to Ryan Reynolds being cast for the role of Hal Jordon was negative, but it wasn't an aggressive position. I simply thought he didn't fit the part at the time. Then there was the first trailer. My reaction was similar to many viewers at that time; the trailer was unimpressive and looked unfinished. The comedic aspect of the first trailer also gave the impression that the film may be overly silly with Hal firing off cringe-worthy one-liners. If we fast-forward through the CGI debate and the release of many clips and TV spots, my position on the upcoming film was one of excitement and positive anticipation. I attended the film on opening day and these are my thought on it. Some entries may be considered spoilers.
I saw the film in 3D with a surprisingly small crowd at my favorite theater. When the lights dimmed, I couldn't help but think of the bad reviews and wonder if the CGI had in fact been improved against some unflattering internet footage. It started, and my last thought of negative reviews were diminished by the enchanting opening narrative. There was nothing left but the movie, myself and my own personal experience.
The movie was still in it's opening stages when the first red flag went up. The issue of the CGI effects would present itself early on. In a scene where the entrapped Parallax is shown for the first time, the CGI model of the character is so bad that it falls in the category of SyFy channel CGI. It was thoroughly distracting even after the scene was over. I couldn't help but wonder how the shot made the final cut.
After the initial CGI debacle, poorly executed effects scenes would pepper the film, giving it a hit-and-miss feel when it came to the visuals. But I was impressed with Hal Jordan's costume for the most part. Reynolds is in great shape and they seem to have defined the color lines of the suit, which previously bled together in early renderings. Now, I'll touch on one last item of the CGI before I actually get into reviewing the story. There is an action sequence consisting of Hal Jordon versus Hector Hammond. This scene is atrocious. At one point, Hammond is moving various objects in the room to use as weapons. This involved the moving of two mechanical cranes, which in motion, looked like some shit from 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit'. It literally looked like they drew it. That's my final word on the FX.
Ryan Reynolds is very charming and likeable in the role of Hal Jordan, and contrary to previous worries, the comedy is not overbearing or distracting. There are miss-fires with some lines, but there were people laughing when I wasn't and vice versa. So, it's like most movies in that regard. The acting was good from the entire cast, with only the female lead coming close to falling off when given too much to say at once. And even in that case, the script required her character to execute cliched dialogue in certain areas. But I actually felt a sense of connection between her and Jordon, which is rare when it comes to the love-interests aspect of these films. The couple felt as though they actually knew each other. Also, Mark Strong's performance is engaging and he pulls you in every time he's on the screen. This is exceptional considering his character is underused in the film.
It is common for the origin story CBM to hit the standard pattern: Establish hero origin simultaneously with villain origin and set up sequel. This formula often times leaves the impression of undeveloped characters and situations and Green Lantern is not exempt from this. Unfortunately, Green Lantern has the playing field to establish it's origin story as well as develop certain aspects of the film. Instead, the film wastes time on insignificant items that don't contribute to the overall story. Hector Hammond is completely useless in the film and only adds for a slightly amusing side note. The actor is well equipped in pulling of the creepy villain, but he nor Parallax ever establish a central sense of villainy. Hammond could have carried the weight on his own, but he's reduced to a servant of Parallax for all of five seconds before he gets the life sucked out of him for failing. This is a waste of valuable time considering Hammond's origins are far more extensive than Parallax'. It takes up much screen.
The planet Oa is beautiful but unexplored. Hal Jordan's time on the planet is brief and you really don't get a sense of him getting to know the place. He is only seen in two or three areas on the planet. The animated film; Green Lantern: First Flight somehow managed to tell Hal's origin story as well as establish him on the planet, complete with alien interactions. In all fairness, First Flight takes place predominately in space, and showing this many CGI aliens would refer us back to the FX problems discussed previously. Still, unnecessary elements like Hammond's storyline and Hal having the exact same talk with Carol could have been traded with more Hal on Oa. One mess-hall scene with alien interaction could have achieved a wider scope of the planet and the core.
Ultimately, Green Lantern suffers from it's presentation. The story is unique and unlike any other superhero. Similar to THOR, Green Lanterns story is not about mutant powers, radiation exposure, bug bites or vigilante. But his unique story is packaged as a film for children. With it's lack luster effects and often times, 1990's soundtrack music, it comes off on the level of Spy Kids, Underdog or Inspector Gadget. Of course it's light years ahead of those films, but if it was released in the 90's, it would look right at home. For all of Ryan Reynolds rising to the occasion, he has to perform under a very poor production. If the films budget was 200+ million, there is no excuse for production values this low. Someone should be fired from future films.
I rooted for the film and wanted it to win, but it fell short. It fell short, needlessly. If this turns out to be a devastating blow to DC's already thin live-action campaign, it will be understandable. I still felt warm and fuzzy seeing Sinestro put on the yellow ring in the end credit sequence, but the film is a gamble if it dictates DC's future. But just like an abusive relationship, if there's a sequel, I'll most likely be back.