Last night I went to the midnight screening of Green Lantern in 3D. I went in with pretty low expectations as the reviews on it were not favorable. I’m not that big into DC comic characters and, despite quite a few people telling me that Geoff John’s work on Green Lantern is fantastic, I have yet to venture into the comics and get a sense of the character and the mythology. So I wasn’t going into the movie as a fan of the character but just as someone who wanted to have fun and be entertained by a superhero movie. I also expected a certain level of quality considering that Martin Campbell, the director, gave us the excellent James Bond reboot, Casino Royale. Sadly, I came out of the movie thinking two words… total misfire.
The film is poorly written and really does kind of come off as if they intended to appeal to the mentality of a ten year old boy. The characters are skeletal and the theme of the movie is so transparent that it requires no thinking on our parts. There are scenes in the movie where you have little to no knowledge of why characters are there and why they are doing what they are doing. It really is lazy writing and my blame falls a lot on Greg Berlanti, one of the four screenwriters on the movie. Berlanti is a very transparent writer and has not produced anything of value thus far. He developed and wrote for ABC’s No Ordinary Family, which has a lot of similar problems in its writing. The movie, at times, really just seems unnecessarily silly. I laughed a few times at some things that were just overdone or out of place.
The acting in the film is all over the board. Ryan Reynolds does an admirable job but can’t escape the awful dialogue. I didn’t like that I was laughing at some of his lines (for all the wrong reasons) as I was rooting for Reynolds to be the guy we all want him to be in the movie and deserves much better material. The strongest performance of the movie comes from Mark Strong as Sinestro. He owns the role and gives Sinestro a weighty presence that is unmatched by anyone else in the film. Peter Sarsgaard gives one of the worst and most over the top performances of his career. I don’t blame him for it though as I see all fault falling into the director’s hands. Tim Robbins also falls under Martin Campbell’s misguided direction. Blake Lively, who I think is criticized unfairly as being the worst actor in the film, does a standard job. I don’t think she necessarily deserves all the venom being tossed her way because it’s not her fault she was terribly miscast. What she does in the movie is not extraordinary by any means but she didn’t take away from the movie for me (other than the fact that she is associated with the terrible Gossip Girl show) and she’s pleasant to look at. Michael Clarke Duncan, as the voice of Kilowog, didn’t quite work for me. On paper, it kind of sounds like a no-brainer but when I heard Duncan’s voice coming out of the alien lantern I felt it stuck out too much. The character would have been serviced better with someone less recognizable.
The visual effects were all over the board for me as well. The space and Oa visuals all seem pretty cool for the most part. But a lot of the effects just look so cartoony. It’s a really weird mix of incredibly great detail mixed with cartoon level imagery. A lot of the movie reminds me of ABC’s V, a tv show well known for shooting on greenscreen where the actors are put into the environments digitally. The suit always kind of looks awkward on Reynolds. I understand the logic behind having the suit be all CG but they should have invested more money and time into it. The mask specifically never looks great and would have been better if it had been done practically. The villain, Paralax, is to me, the worst of it all. He/it looks terrible visually. The villain as a blob like cloud should really never be in a movie (remember Galactus in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer? Terrible!). It doesn’t work and makes the villain seem less threatening. But there is one image from the movie that is burned into my head and is hands down the coolest shot in the movie and that is the Green Lantern with his back to the sun about to engage Paralax. The image is dynamic and just so badass looking. I really wish that more iconic imagery like that could have been utilized in the film.
I feel like I could go on with more things that bug me.. like how the story spends so much time preventing Hal Jordan from being a cool superhero. There is a lot of he’s not worthy/i’m not worthy babble going around that we don’t really get to see the Green Lantern shine as a hero. But, despite all the bad in the movie, there are things that work… Sinestro, Oa, the corps. Basically anything scifi related and that is where the movie shines. The rest of the film drags it down unfortunately though. I really hope that if they do a sequel, which it sounds like they already have in motion, that Campbell doesn’t come back and that they ditch an earthbound story and go for an intergalactic story. I think that’s what would work the best. And for the love of all that is holy, ditch Berlanti and hire someone that understands character!!
The 3D is actually quite nice by the way. I was pleasantly surprised considering that this is a post-conversion 3D film. It worked for the movie and there was some pretty cool depth to the image on the screen. I never felt it was distracting and was worth the extra bucks to see it in 3D.
So if you have been wanting to see the film, by all means, check it out ( and stay mid-way through the credits for a quick scene that will surely make all the fanboys happy). Perhaps you won’t be as critical of the movie as I was and will enjoy it. But I think, if anything, you will see that the movie is severely flawed. It’s up to you to decide whether or not those flaws are a deal breaker for you. My ultimate feeling is that Green Lantern will be watched by many on DVD/Blu-ray but not because it’s a good movie, but because it’s laughable (not Batman and Robin laughable though).
– Ben McBride