Review of 2011 Green Lantern: Just Because

Marvel’s generally successful run of live-action superhero movies culminated in The Avengers last year that netted them a whole boatload of cash.  While DC’s Dark Knight Trilogy has more or less become the standard of comic book movies these days, the complicated reception and obstacles regarding Superman Returns made it difficult for DC to create a shared universe where they could create the Justice League.  Since you can’t have the Justice League without Superman, and Nolan envisioned the Dark Knight trilogy to be in a world with no other heroes, it was hard to envision such a team-up film being made.

With Man of Steel, however, Superman is back.  It didn’t make critics bow down and worship it, but it was a box office hit and Snyder consciously opened the door for other heroes to enter that universe.  However, they’re missing most of the other heroes, including Batman, so they need to find a way to introduce at least some of them to a movie audience.

There is one hero they DO have already available, and that is Green Lantern, a hero they introduced in 2011.  Too bad that movie didn’t do nearly as well as they hoped.  I watched the movie two years ago… but I realized I barely remembered anything about it, so I decided to watch it again to see if it truly was that forgettable and as bad as the critics said it was.

In a nutshell:  There’s nothing egregiously horrible about the movie and it has a handful of neat action sequences, but it’s mostly pretty dull.  In its defense, I’ve always felt like Green Lantern would be difficult to translate into live-action convincingly because the whole concept of the hero seems so goofy.  I was never that enamored with the idea of Green Lantern (ring that can do allegedly “anything” that is powered by “will?”  Really?), but the movie definitely missed a good opportunity to make something interesting.

The funny thing is that I actually think they did a good job of casting the main roles.  Ryan Reynolds was the logical choice for Hal Jordan:  Hal is supposed to be brash and a bit cocky, and Reynolds portrays that well.  Blake Lively did a decent job as Carol Ferris and certainly looked the part, and Mark Strong did a great job as Sinestro.  The other Green Lanterns were also generally well done, including Killowog (but not Abin Sur).  The special effects also weren’t too shabby, if not a bit corny sometimes because everything was green.

What were the main problems?  One, the script was crappy, and you can’t blame the actors for that.  Two (and this is related), the main villain(s) were just stupid and lame.

Parallax is technically the main villan, and while I can see why they wanted to introduce this bad guy (yellow power of fear and all), I don’t think it was a good idea.  I mean… it’s just this blob of yellow with a mean looking head.  It just looked silly.  I know Parallax is a big-bad villain in the DC comics universe, but translating that to the big-screen was going to be very difficult.  Furthermore, the human main villain, Hector Hammund, was all sorts of pitiful.  Yes, we want to see Ryan Reynolds fight with this dude with daddy issues who apparently still has insecurities like a stereotypical high school emo nerd who pines after the popular girl.  Sigh.  Ironically, the best action scenes may have been when Hal Jordan is training as a Green Lantern against Killowog and Sinestro, not the final scenes against Hammund and Parallax.  Because the enemies in the film were simply not very impressive, it made the conflict of the movie seem insignificant.  One reason the Dark Knight Trilogy is memorable is because it had compelling villains such as Ra’s al Ghul and the Joker.  In Green Lantern, Hal Jordan fights a crybaby and a yellow cloud.  Um… yay.

Honestly, though they were clearly building up to this for a sequel as shown in the end credits scene, they probably should have just had Sinestro be the bad guy in the film.  Not only would that threat seem way more real than a yellow blob, a power ring fight would be much more compelling than duking it out with said blob.

Some criticized the movie for trying to be too Marvel-like in execution, meaning that it had a much lighter atmosphere than the dark Batman series.  I don’t have too much of a problem with it; Hal Jordan is supposed to be a goofy smart-aleck, like The Flash is.  That said, I agree that it probably should have been slightly more serious.  I mean, the fact that he’s shooting bright green energy from his ring, making green constructs, and flying around in shiny green suit already makes it seem very cartoony.  Toning done both the brightness of some of the colors and overall mood may have helped.

Overall, it was just a forgettable summer action flick, with some shiny effects, a bad script, and a couple of boring villains.  It’s too bad because they probably could have gotten a lot more out of the movie.  Still, even though the movie wasn’t a huge success, there are rumors of a sequel coming out, and there are also rumors that this Green Lantern may very well be the one that is part of a Justice League film.  They have to find a way to reintroduce Batman, and they most likely have to give Wonder Woman her own film too, which will be very difficult (who is going to wear that suit and not look stupid?).  The Flash might warrant his own film, but the other possible leaguers (Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Cyborg, Aquaman) probably aren’t big enough names to earn their own titles.  Regardless of what movie they make, they should learn this simple rule for comic book movies:  Don’t make the main villain stupid, or nobody is going to care about the heroes’ fight.  If Green Lantern 2 comes out, they better write the thing to show how Sinestro is one big baddie.  There IS a problem of a shared universe with Superman if Clark can just zip in and punch him out in a nanosecond, but Superman never does logical things so I guess we can just assume he’s sipping coffee in Metropolis.


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