GREEN LANTERN Blu-ray Review

     October 25, 2011


This summer we got a comic-book origin tale about a man with father issues accepting his role as guardian and protector of the universe fighting against his someone he thought was a brother, with the film featuring an unnecessary love interest and a supporting cast that should have had more to do, on top of sequences set in outer space. Actually, we got two of those.

Superficially, the resemblances between Paramount/Marvel’s Thor and Warner Brothers/DC’s Green Lantern are hard to ignore, but Thor was a modest hit (or at least not a belly flop), while Green Lantern was the weakest performer of the summer’s comic book films. Both aren’t that good, but both have similar things to recommend: the world, and their villains. Here Ryan Reynolds stars as Hal Jordan, the cocky pilot who takes on the mantle of galactic defender, and must fight Parallax and Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) to keep Earth safe. Our review of Green Lantern on Blu-ray follows after the jump.

The film is presented in two cuts, the theatrical and the extended version, which mostly offers a backstory where Hal Jordan is introduced to Carol Ferris and Hector as children. There are good things about this, but the neatness of the universe and the explaining the self-evident makes it a wash to which is better. The film starts with Parallax imprisoned, but a freak accident breaks him out. Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) is mortally wounded trying to stop Parallax, so Abin passes on his ring to Hal Jordan. Hal recently crashed his plane in a sequence meant to show that he’s smart but cocky and haunted by the specter of his father’s legacy (and death). The ring takes him to Oa, where he is trained briefly and then rejects his calling, to the disappointment of everyone in the Green Lantern corps – including Sinestro (Mark Strong), who wants to form a yellow ring to fight Parallax.

Back on earth, Hector Hammond (Sarsgaard) gives an autopsy to Abin Sur, and gets some Parallax on him, which causes mutation and turns Hector more evil. Also, he’s always wanted to sleep with Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) and hates his politician father (Tim Robbins). When Hal comes back to earth he must face against Hector (unknowingly at first) and then comes to realize that Parallax is going to come for Earth, and so he must return to Oa and get the Green Lantern corps on his side.

I know a lot of people who hated this and liked Thor. I can’t make much of a case for this film, I don’t think it’s terrible – though plainly too routine – but I will say this: my problem with Thor is that structurally it spends a lot of time with Thor being “Not-Thor” and that is much of the drama of the film. I can’t think of anything more frustrating than watching a film deny the obvious (that Thor will eventually get his hammer back), so I couldn’t really truck with that movie. Here – though Jordan doesn’t want to be a Lantern, I never felt as insulted about him being denied his powers, because he’s never without them. Basically, the movie version of Thor felt like I could feel cost-cutting measures in place. But in both cases it’s about the characters learning a lesson to be better people – I guess that’s a good arc for a comic book movie – but the differences feel marginal. I’d say also that Lantern has a bigger scale, and I like the outer space stuff (I always like outer space stuff), and it’s got cool looking aliens.

green-lantern-movie-image-ryan-reynolds-blake-livelyRyan Reynolds is okay as Jordan. He grounds it when they could have gone too Tony Stark (and they do try for that a little in the beginning), but I think he’s a good choice – though this summer suggests he won’t get a second chance. It’s hard to fault Blake Lively for being a bad fit – I don’t think any actress could have made the role work that well, though I think this summer Hayley Atwell did a great job in Captain America (then again, that part was better written and better integrated). Lively is a TV actress and is known for being good looking. Watching her here, I can’t say she’s much better or worse in the role that Natalie Portman was in Thor – it’s the role – but at best she’s competent, and weightless. Sarsgaard is the real hero of the picture, as he often makes interesting choices (from how he has a drink on), though I think the film would have done better to set up its intercutting of him and Hal Jordan a little stronger.  Comic book villains are often the dark mirror of their protagonists, and there is an effort to set that up here, but I think it could have been stronger had there been more of that from the start. Then again, the narrative here is the junky “hero’s journey” stuff that we’ve seen since Star Wars wrote the formula for these sorts of films. The other Lanterns would make more of an impression had they had more to do, and that world is interesting, but very expensive to show – though it never feels as cheap as Thor.

Martin Campbell directed it with the sort of workmanlike approach he takes to most things. He is a competent action director, though with all of the special effects, it negates his great talents at practical work. The studio has suggested they want to take the film darker (read more Batman) if they give it another go, but I really wish they had gone goofier. A Green Lantern can conjure up whatever they want to protect themselves and those around them, and the thinking here is never awe inspiring. And such is why the action scenes don’t really pop – there’s no great energy in the complications when they happen – you really want it to be more than dealing with one problem at a time.

green-lantern-movie-image-peter-sarsgaard-2I don’t know if I can recommend a film for being painless, but I was never bothered or too insulted by the film. I just can’t get very passionate about it as being anything more or less than an average comic book origin film. The genre has hit critical mass, and it will be interesting to see how it survives after Nolan stops making Batman films, and after The Avengers concludes Marvel’s build-up to that release. It’s exciting, but with the cost of these films, it’s possible that 2012 will be the last great year for comic book movies.

Warner Brother’s Blu-ray presents the film in both the theatrical (114 min.) and extended cuts (123 min.), with a digital copy and DVD in the package. The film is presented in widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 surround. The picture and sound on this are excellent, and as the outer space stuff is what I like most about the film, a great transfer helps the film. Green Lantern can be watched in Maximum movie mode, which offers a pop-up window with comments from the cast and crew, and is hosted by comic book writer Geoff Johns. The focus points (47 minutes) are also available to be viewed separately. “The Universe According to Green Lantern” (20 min.) walks though the history of the comic book character, while “Ryan Reynolds Becomes Green Lantern” (9 min.) gives the star his due for his work. The disc also offers four additional (and incomplete) deleted scenes (7 min.), the “Justice League #1 Digital comic” (9 min.) and a preview of the Green Lantern Animated series (7 min.). The disc also comes with BD-Live content.

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  • giovanni

    despite ur distaste for Thor it got a 77 on rotten tomatoes, apples and oranges, Marvel knows what they are doing and have a bigger picture in mind with the avengers and that might of hurt that film despite that i actually think the outer space sequences in that movie looked better than lanterns not cheaper. Asgard was beautiful and so were all the sequences on the rainbow bridge ( especially in Imax or just recently watche din Blue-ray. Better fleshed out supporting cast as well, especially Anthony Hopkins not so much rene russo lol. But Stellan was good and so was Idris elba as Heimdal and the villain Loki much better than Peter Starsgard. Just my opinion though. I liked them both but Thor is a much much better Movie. Speaking of cheap Lanterns outfit looked very chheap and distracting and constantly took me out of the movie

  • Britney James

    I hope they will include the following characters in future Green Lantern sequels:

    Alan Scott, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, Jade, Appa Ali Apsa, Ganthet, Sayd, Lianna, Scar, Arisia Rrab, Boodikka, Ch’p, Flodo Span, Galius Zed, G’nort, Graf Toren, Green Man, Isamot Kol, Jack T. Chance, Katma Tui, Ke’Haan, Kreon, Laira, Lar Gand, Medphyll, Mogo, Raker Qarrigat, Rond Vidar, Salaak, Sodam Yat, Soranik Natu, Stel, Tomar-Tu, Turytt, Golan Hertz, Ion, Alexandra DeWitt, Doiby Dickles, Molly Mayne, Rose Canton, Terry Berg, Thomas Kalmaku, Jillian Pearlman, Green Arrow

    I look forward to seeing the following villains in future Green Lantern sequels:

    Bolphunga, Controllers, Doctor Polaris, Effigy, Evil Star, Fatality, Gambler, Goldface, Icicle, Javelin, Kanjar Ro, Krona, Larfleeze, Legion, Major Disaster, Manhunters, Nero, Puppeteer, Ranx the Sentient City, Shark, Solomon Grundy, Sonar, Sportsmaster, Star Sapphire, Tattooed Man, Traitor, Vandal Savage, Zamaron, Anti-Monitor, Hank Henshaw, Mongul, Superboy-Prime, Amon Sur, Arkillo, Lyssa Drak, Karu-Sil, Yellow Lantern, Atrocitus, Nekron, Black Hand

    • Bob

      As a fellow Green Lantern fan, I appreciate your enthusiasm. But you just listed 85 characters. Even if five more sequels are made, if they tried to fit all those characters in there, they’d each get less than five minutes of screen time. And Hal would get even less.

      My biggest problem with the movie (which I liked, overall) was that they tried to fit too many characters and plotlines into it. Carol Ferris, Carl Ferris, Hector Hammond, Tom Kalmaku, Jack Jordan, Jim Jordan, Tomar-Re, Kilowog, Sinestro, the Guardians, Parallax, Amanda Waller… all great characters with interesting back stories. But none of them had the chance to be told, because there were just too many characters for a 114-minute movie. Amanda Waller’s whole life story was shown in a wordless 15 second flashback. She deserved more than that.

  • MainFragger

    I think they could have done some cooler things with the ring. But GL/Hal is a very non-humorous character in the books, and they should have kept it that way in the movies.

    The truth is, the costume was too bright and cheesey looking and it made Hal look stupid, rather than a cop or militaristic cop (which is what GL’s basically are). And none of the other costumes were as bright as his. What, did they do it to set him apart from all the other alien GL’s?

    The fact is, they messed everything up by straying from the original story line and doing according to the new storyline. And it didn’t work.

    Also, they completely changed Hector Hammond’s origin and tied in a villain that shouldn’t have shown up until GL 5 (if they ever made it that far.)

    The end with Sinestro makes NO sense. The villain that I wanted to use this ring to fight is dead..we know this ring is dangerous..I think I’ll put it on ANYWAY! Huh?!?!?

    They flashed through Oa and he barely had time to interact with aliens. (mistake)

    The truth is, roughly 1/3 of the movie should have been him getting the ring, the next 1/3 training with it, and the last third dealing with Hector Hammond.. who, by the way, should have been much more of a pain to deal with and would have been a better main villain than Parallax. (I like to call him Para ex-lax).

    And the space scene in the end credits did remind me a lot of the ending of Thor. But the one in Thor looked a lot better.

    They both missed the boat in taking advantage of their end sequences, because I would like to have seen (even if it was just a quick pan) creatures from the other realms…instead, you just get a tour of the realms from space. And similarly, I would like to have seen one or two other GL’s in action in their space sectors briefly in the credits. So there, both movies dropped the ball.

    Thor’s storyline was very uneven, but I still liked the movie overall. My hope is that if they make a Thor II, it will pick up not long after Thor and it will feel like one story. Cause really, when I watched Thor, I felt like the whole movie was just one big opening act (there was no middle and end). And thats not even considering its lead in to Avengers.

  • Joseph

    First things first, Comic book movies are here to stay for the forseeable future…you cannot just predict that next year will be the fade of all that’s good…in 2013 alone you’ll have Superman, Ironman 3, Thor 2, and possibly Captain America 2…they aren’t slowing down, they’re gearing up.

    Second, Both movies followed the origins stories close enough to make the point. The idea behind these conversions is not to tell the story exactly as it happens in the CBs, rather to adjust enough that you can tell the story in 90-120 minutes…anyone who actually reads comic books knows that it takes years to tell some of these stories.

    Britney James, I agree, it would be great to see all of these folks in the movies…but in due time. They should spend some time with one lantern, introducing side characters, and then pulling in more of the human lanterns…ultimately, they make new batman, superman, and wonderwoman movies, then push to a JLA movie, further advance the GL story line enough to pull off the ultimate Darkest Night line.

    MainFragger, Hal Jordan’s suit is brighter, simply because he shines brighter than the other green lanterns…he becomes a becon of sorts…among the greatest of lanterns…

    I just have one request…can everyone just stop trying to catch up on their comic book movie lore by reading wikipedia? Too many would be critics are bashing on these movies simply because they do not understand the undertones in the movie…did anyone know that the green lantern corps has fought parallax on multiple occassions?

  • tsuru

    I think that casting and characterization are really important in any adaptation. For me, the actors they chose for the first Harry Potter enhanced the experience of reading the subsequent novels. In the same way, seeing Ryan Reynolds makes me never want to pick up anything related to Green Lantern again.