June 18, 2011

Movie Review: Green Lantern

Green Lantern. This is a character I am not terribly familiar with, but I think I know enough to get by on. Unfortunately it sort of feels like the writers were in the same boat. They certainly appear to understand all that goes into the concept of the Green Lantern and the fact that there is a lot going on involving two different worlds, much like Thor, but unlike that earlier feature, they were unable to completely resolve the two worlds to make a cohesive whole. No, rather than an interesting epic origin, we get a mishandle mash up of two halves of a movie shuffled together like a deck of cards.

It should be known that this character has a lot more going on to his origin than a lot of other heroes. Sure, there are some common elements, but unlike Spiderman or Batman, Green Lantern is more epic in scope, spanning the universe rather than a city and covering more than one person, all while still being the story of one person. This results in a backstory that requires a bit more screen time to cover.

Sadly, while the movie approaches the absurd with suitable amount of light humor, countered by a degree of sincerity in an attempt to add weight, but with an unfortunate result that is scattershot and more than a little dry. When approaches the cosmic stuff and takes us into space and beyond we get some interesting material, then we always come back to Earth where we are saddled with perfunctory scenes that we have seen in countless comic adaptations before.

As Green Lantern opens we are told via voice over of the origin of the Green Lantern Corps. This leads to the escape of the films villain, Parallax, and the start of Abin Sur's (Temeura Morrison) injured flight to Earth. Meanwhile, talented yet slacking test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is late for his latest flight. Fast forward to the end of a bad day bon the job, Hal finds himself whisked into the presence of the the alien Abin Sur where he is given the ring.

From there we get series of staid sequences of Hal dealing with his fear and daddy issues, the disapproving girlfriend, the manipulative government official, and the building evil of a secondary bad guy. It is all stuff we have seen before and better. The stuff on the Green Lantern planet Oa is more interesting, but even hat does not feel fully realized.

I think one of the issues here is that there is no true sense of wonder. For a guy who just encountered an alien and was given a power ring, he does not seem all that surprised. Top that off with the feeling that there is no middle. It feels like they went right from the origin and background to the final battle. There is not enough time spent on building everything up. Could there be a longer cut lurking out there somewhere? I would certainly think so.

As I sat there in the dark watching this jerkily unfold on the screen, I cannot help bout feel caught between two worlds. On one hand I want to see good movies, legitimately good movies that entertain and engage me as an audience member. On the other hand, I can appreciate a bad movie, or at least questionable movies, and this one was sort of there. When Hal was unleashing his not all that creative imaginings onscreen I had a little bit of fun, but the momentum was never sustained.

Martin Campbell, who shepherded two rejuvenations of the James Bond franchise, fails to generate all that much excitement here. It has a couple of moments, but for the most part is a story that is told sloppily and the editing is a mess. Perhaps the half dozen writers should have given it another pass. I cannot help but feel there was a way that the backstory could have been streamlined and the whole thing made more cohesive and fun.

Ryan Reynolds was decent enough as Hal, although I still see him as more of a Flash type. Blake Lively isn't given a heck of a lot to do, the same could be said for Mark Strong as Sinestro. The one guy I did like was Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond, a guy infected by the alien bad guy. He felt like he was from a different movie, but he really brought some life to the role and even a touch of depth.

Overall, this is not a movie I can recommend. Sure, it is meant to be a summer popcorn flick, but in the face of competition like X-Men: First Class and Super 8, you have far better choices than this.

Not Recommended.

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Anonymous said...

I agree that the writing was poor. Check out my review if you get the chance! http://creedsdelight.com/2011/06/18/green-lantern/

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