GREEN LANTERN Review

by     Posted 2 years, 304 days ago

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Director Martin Campbell’s Green Lantern exists in a time when rainbow bridges aren’t laughed at and secret agent mutants enhance the drama, which is why the newest entry in DC Comics’ long lineage of films feels like a regression. The talent amassed for this origin story can understandably excite onlookers, but the end result won’t make many want to come back for more. A disjointed plot that may alienate audience members instead of pull them in is a bad start to Warner Brothers franchise kick-starter hopeful. The real shame is that Ryan Reynolds is a natural choice for Hal Jordan, and the rest of the cast exude similar confidence, but the material they are working with hinders the film from ever lifting off the ground. Even Campbell seems to be unwilling to commit to the material. Short, choppy, and overpopulated with CG and not enough heart, this is one comic book film you might want to skip this summer. Hit the jump for my full review.

Throughout the universe exists a galactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps. With the use of their power rings, which grants its chosen wearer the ability to create anything their mind imagines, they patrol the 3600 individual sectors of the universe. When the cosmic entity known as Parallax is released and begins to feed on fear, the lone Green Lantern strong enough to defeat it, Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison), is gravely wounded and sets off to find his replacement. Enter cocky fighter test pilot Hal Jordan (Reynolds), whose confidence in the air gets him in trouble on the ground. While Abin Sur’s pupil, Sinestro (Mark Strong), sees only weakness in Jordan, he may end up being the strongest Lantern yet. With Parallax threatening the universe, Jordan has to overcome his desire to run from responsibility and commit to being a hero.

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One of the first sink or swim moments in the film occurs right in the opening scene, when aliens that have crash-landed on the planet Ryut release Parallax from its dormant state. The entire scene looks straight out of a video game—not a $150 million-plus live-action film. For me, using this to setup the film is a poor idea as it asks the audience to grant the film a pass before they are even invested in the film. Too much, too soon.

Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim, and Michael Goldenberg all share screenplay credit for Green Lantern, which might be why the film feels disjointed. Sometimes a committee of writers can find synergy and produce a truly collaborative script that flows. Unfortunately, this grouping hit a bump in the road and kept going, again and again. Instead of utilizing Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) as one of Jordan’s greatest nemesis, the script treats him like a pawn. He would have been a great villain to ground the film and reign in the mythology to make Lantern an easier pill to swallow, but instead everything seems to revolve around Parallax.

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Part of the problem of the film is that it seems to borrow heavily from Geoff Johns’ groundbreaking Secret Origins arc. However, instead of using it as a script, they attempt to mash together different elements while dropping the more complicated material. The result, with Parallax being introduced and Hammond coming in later, sounds right on paper but is inadequately translated to the screen. Oh, and I should also mention that they are trying to do all of this within 105 minutes.

While I’ll admit that setting up Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern mythos is daunting, most of the successful origin stories coming out now make an effort to keep the film grounded. Here, there seems to be little attempt to ease the audience into the mythology. You either accept from the opening minutes of the film that a grey cloud that glows yellow with a skeletal face is ravaging the universe, or you don’t.

Paradoxically, while the film shoves Parallax down your throat, it uses the home planet of the Green Lanterns, Oa, as a sideshow. Jordan is immediately sent there once he speaks the oath for training. While you might want to sit back and relax as the film introduces you to the way the power ring works and see Jordan progress, they abruptly stop to send us back to Earth. There almost seems to be a lack of confidence from Campbell, as if he is suddenly asking too much of the audience. That’s a real shame because Jordan’s training is one of the few moments where the film seems to find the right balance between intrigue and fun without being unnecessarily self-deprecating.

One part of the film that actually works is the cast, with Reynolds leading the way. Jordan has a cockiness that blends with humanity in the comics, and Reynolds seems to tap into that with ease. He has plenty of one-liners to keep the audience laughing, but they never go overboard with it. He can be serious when he wants, and when he is emotionally wounded, we believe it. Even Blake Lively as Carol Ferris, former flame and childhood friend of Jordan’s, holds her own. Doing the best he can in his shrunken role, Peter Sarsgaard is nearly unrecognizable in his swollen head prosthetic and is a cruel, menacing character that has some shocking moments.

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Additionally, Mark Strong manages to make Sinestro—a tall, purple alien with a window’s peak and pencil mustache—intimidating and serious. The camera doesn’t shy away from him either, and the makeup and costume look great on him. There is also a key portion of his character that appears in the middle of the credits, so stick around for that. The real stunner, though, is Abin Sur’s makeup. The muscle tissue and purple glow might cause some to stare in awe, which is a shame because he isn’t around very long. One thing to note is that on close-ups, Jordan’s suit looks great, but from distances it still appears obviously fake. Curiously, the suits just flat out work on all of the other Lanterns. As for the 3D, some of the scenes on Oa seem to shine, but because most of the film takes place on Earth, it once again feels more like an unnecessary expense.

Campbell is known for starting Pierce Brosnan’s career as James Bond and later delivering a knockout with Casino Royale, which effectively rebooted the Bond franchise. With that type of success in hand, one would expect him to be able to deliver yet again. Regrettably, Lantern never lives up to the lofty expectations set by both the talented parties involved with the film (even James Newton Howard’s score is mostly uninspired) and the decades of solid material that precedes it. A new franchise typically begins with an origin story that gets you excited for the upcoming films. You simply can’t wait for what will come. With Green Lantern, you might just hope the next volume is better than the first.

Score: C+

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  • ReptarTheTommy

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fp6qwLqOuJQ
    The terrible CGI in this film speaks for itself. Dear god it looks like a Mass Effect cutscene.

    • Jon

      I think I’m going to watch X-Men in theaters this weekend – again.

      Now that’s a great film, in which a guy with a goofy-looking pink & purple helmet/cape from the 60s manages to be one of the coolest things I’ve seen this year and still give one of the most dramatic performances of this summer so far.

      • chris

        I’m with you. Almost bought my tickets and decided to just buy X-Men again instead. This movie looks like a bluray rental at best. What a letdown.

  • Nick

    is anybody at all surprised by this?

  • Wrong

    I also had the chance to view this last night.

    It is flat out terrible. I realize it’s important to be kind in your review due in large part to the insider access granted you by the Brothers Warner, So I’ll do the dirty for you:

    At no point in this lack luster farce is anything even remotely believable. from Flash to Flash, this stinker is a snore fest.

    The CG on OA is more rubbery than Phantom Menace and the plot as thin as Alan Greenspan’s smile. The comedy is forced, and the actors do not deliver a shred of performance in all 105 painful minutes.

    The 3D is Clash of the Titans quality, or worse. If you’ve never been to a 3D film before, or are still on the fence about it, I’d sit this one out.

    All the set pieces have been released in the trailers, so don’t concern yourself with reading “spoilers” in future reviews, as there is nothing left in this direct to DVD crude to be spoiled.

    This is EVERYTHING that is wrong in Hollywood today. It does not entertain, inform, excite, intrigue, or engage the viewer in any manner.

    One might say this is a children’s film, but that would be an insult to children.

    • Bill Graham

      I thought the film had its moments. And with all that I said was bad about it, I wasn’t itching for the film to end. I wanted it to last a bit longer. Maybe I’m a masochist, I dunno. It wasn’t terrible, but it WAS terribly disappointing.

      • silly billy

        Agreed. -_- I just hope that they make another one. –and if they do, it better frickin rock my world. I am a huge GL fan which kind of made my expectations impossible, but it didn’t really deliver as a whole as much as it had its moments.

  • Negro

    Oh no… Sigh… there goes The Justice League Film . lol But seriously, I was so hoping this was going to be at good. Somewhere between Superman Returns and Batman Begins. I hope the length didn’t hinder the film.

  • Jovan

    http://milleniumsande.blogspot.com/ we blog about sports, movies and music, but we just recently started

  • J.R.

    Dammit!!………………..

  • j jonah jameson

    I can’t say I’m surprised. Everything about this looked awful since the first trailer, just like Indiana Jones IV. I totally called this for months, yet I was constantly persecuted by the ignorant.

  • Lance

    I always had the sense this film was awful. The fact the trailers focused on comedy bits and some bad CGI was not a good sign. Go see Super 8 instead, people. That’s a movie light years ahead of whatever this Green Lantern mess looks to be.

  • Jason

    Bill Graham,
    Have you seen the animated movie “Green Lantern: First Flight”?

    How does this live action interpretation of the Hal Jordan origin story compare with that one in your opinion?

  • Rockslide

    I’m greatly disappointed. I was really looking forward to this one. I knew it must have some problems, the fact that WB took so long to release elements and then there was no novel tie-in release (which is often a bad sign.) Then no early showings to critics. The last minute CGI and conversions. It all spelled doom, but I tried to keep to my hope. With all the reviews now flooding in, that’s been dashed. Why does a studio spend that kind of money on a project without proper planning and preparation? On a project that big, you have to have a rock solid script and story before you start rolling. I hate this idea of thinking you’ll figure things out as you go. All they had to do was create a live-action Green Lantern: Secret Origin and they would have been fine.

  • J.R.

    So who’s fault is this?….the director right?

    • insider

      Greg Berlanti, the writer who spear headed the “creative” development of this project. Berlanti has been/was treated like God’s gift to the film industry by Warners. They gave him the keys to this project, The Flash, and Clash of the Titans as well as that stupid baby movie he directed. So far I would say he’s 0-3. That’s what you get from a hacky TV writer.

  • DM725

    Maybe now we’ll get Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool!

  • Strong Enough

    is it really that hard to make a amazing movie? i mean I am not a really big cinema fan but damn just add some story to it and engaging characters instead of having s**t blow up every 10 seconds. I never got why directors don’t put 110 percent into every movie they do. If i was a director i would want to make the best movie of my career every single time

  • Alex H

    I was never–not for one moment–excited about this film. From the time I saw the first trailer, I knew this movie was going to be bad. But people kept getting their hopes up and keeping an unnecessary faith in it.

    I was right. This movie was GARBAGE.

  • junierizzle

    I admit I wasn’t really excited to see this. THis review doesn’t help. Granted it is only one review but sometimes you just get a feeling.

    I might still check it out.

    • Bill Graham

      With movies I feel are OK, I usually give this advice: hedge your bets and go see a regular format matine screening. If it turns out to be dumb fun, win. If it turns out poorly, you didn’t lose out much. And if you really enjoy it, that’s an even bigger win. Plus, you may avoid the idiots that come during primetime screening.

  • Terry

    piece of shit to the nth degree. I blogged on here a few months back that the green lantern was going to be a shitfest. It looked like the greatest american hero. WTF! I hope this film rots in hell. Just like that crap the green hornet. AWEFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Tarek

      I don’t think G.Lantern will beat G.Hornet in the awfulness contest.

      Never seen a stupid movie like G.Hornet. Even Watchmen was watchable.

  • LB

    It wasn’t that bad. I actually enjoyed it. It feels like a really good trailer for the sequel (if it happens to earn a sequel).

    @Strong Enough: I advice you to take an internship or be a production assistant to know how difficult it is to make a movie.

  • wel809

    the director really should have rejected the offer to make this movie(unless he approached the film). there is no point in wasting so much money on cgi that actually ruins the movie. im not at all surprised about the bad reviews. the cg is clearly extremely unrealistic, and the acting clearly looked only or even less than decent. movies with bid budgets NEED a great script/writers, and a vfx company that delivers top quality fx.

  • Tarek

    That’s what I have neeb afraid of…CGI fest again.

    Will they never learn ? Don’t they know that the CGI are used just to add to the story, not to be “the story” ?

  • Brett

    I haven’t seen the movie yet and never planned to until Collider began running their contest and Harry from Aint It Cool gave very persuasive arguments that changed my mind. Now, I’m taking my mom, Dad and brother to see the flick as a Father’s Day gift despite all the negatitivity.

    I was one of the negative guys who was completely turned off by the cringe worthy lines in the trailer. I’m not going to blame Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively or Martin Campbell for a possible crappy script. They had to work with the material at hand, culled from an unfit committee of writers.

    Hey, worst case scenario, could it be worse than the 1980 Flash Gordon? That’s was loads of cheese but also loads of fun. I’m going and thanks to Frosty for running a very cool contest!

  • hmmm

    I actually enjoyed the film. If you were looking for TDK, Iron Man, Xmen, I think you were going in expecting the wrong thing. There is no way to do a faithful green lantern that is grounded on Earth and without all the CG. Hell the worst part of the green lantern comics is the earth stuff. When Hal is off traversing the galaxy are the best moments, especially when it involves more of the Lantern Corp. You can’t ground the Green Lantern in “reality” like they have tried to do with superhero films as of late. It is an intergalactic space opera with a superhero, there is no way to ground that.

    I do think at times the CG wasn’t good, I assume that is a too many hands in the cooky jar bit. They had waaay too many different companies working on the CG to make a deadline that shouldn’t have been rushed.

    This film unfortunately though is nothing more than a setup for potential greatness. Sinestro is a true badass, and you could see glimmers of what could be with battles between Jordan and Sinestro during the training sequence, which is hands down for me the best few minutes in the film.

    This to me was a live action comic. More than most others. I was disappointed that we didn’t get to see more action with Hal coming up with more things to throw around on screen. I could have watched the training bit for another 30 minutes at least. It is just sad that the BEST parts of what are cool with the lanterns, didn’t get explored because you are stuck in having to explain an origin story to the masses because he is a relatively unknown character. The potential for an incredible sequel with incredible action between Sinestro and Jordan is there. I just hope we get to see it.

    • Bill Graham

      I agree that the training sequences were when Lantern was at its best. And I don’t want the film grounded into reality so far that we forget to have fun with the property. However, to introduce Parallax THIS early in a franchise, and THAT early in a film… yikes.

      As I mentioned, they could have focused on Hector Hammond and given us a bad guy we could grasp easily. The transfer of the ring is still a hurdle to get over without something happening to Abin Sur, but there could have been a number of ways around it.

      Hell, we don’t know WHY Krypton explodes all that well, but we accept that something catastrophic has happened. They could have gone that route with Abin Sur.

      In the end, the film is OK, but in this summer, OK doesn’t quite cut it if I’m spending my hard earned cash. THOR took some crazy material and adapted it really well. What is Lantern’s excuse? Space opera? Hardly…

  • Mike

    Saw the midnight screening despite all the negative buzz and i gotta say i was surprised …it wasn’t all that terrible i think Bill hit it right on the head …its mediocre or decent at best. The Hector Hammond character is never really fleshed out more than just thrown in as an enemy for Hal to conquer and the cast does their best but they dont have much to work with …the dialogue is quite cheesy at times lol I expected more of Martin Campbell (especially after Casino Royale one of my fav films ever and the jolt of lightning the Bond franchise needed). But despite all that it was still entertaining in that mindless summer blockbuster way … just dont expect anything thought provoking or mind blowing

  • Drew

    I still can’t believe how bad this movie looks. I feel bad for the fans of the comic book. C+ sounds too positive of a grade for that review haha

  • RPJ

    I dont know what all the fuss is about this is one persons opinion who obviously over analyzes a comic book film LOL – Why would you take a comic film and expect an oscar type performance from Reynolds??? Its an over the top comic book to begin with …. A ring that can generate your thoughts into something physical…Batman is a rich boy who can buy awesome toys very differnt aspects of the comic book world man. Take this movie for what it is a popcorn movie and go there to enjoy what your ment to enjoy about such a movie … the CGI, Set pieces and Fight Scenes.

    Cannot stand when people over analyze a COMIC BOOK movie lol its quite funny at times the references you get from some people!

    Those are my two cents.

    • Bill Graham

      Who said anything about an Oscar-level performance from Reynolds? In fact, my review clearly states that I dug him in the role. The film IS dumb fun, which is why I gave it a C+. However, there are MUCH better comic book films out there this summer that gives us fun without the dumb.

      • kungfukid

        actually Bill, there weren’t alot of fun in this movie. it’s just dumb. and that jokes were the flattest. i have no idea about the Hal Jordan character that’s why i though Reynolds was miscast.. researching now in the net, and it states that Jordan was very much like Reynolds. but the film never showed that. THE JOKES WERE FLAT. the funny thing in the film, and i really laughed hard on this one, was the part where Reynolds visits Lively’s office/house and does a Bale Batman voice. it was a hilarious(and probably improvised by Reynolds himself) scene.

        i kinda love Thor now after this(yes it had a horrible climax at the desert town. but IT WAS FUN!). both deal with really silly mythology, but Kenneth Branagh is a sure talent. he focused on the silly characters and brought a little depth.

  • chris

    I knew i was going to like this movie a lot just by how badly collider picked it apart.

    The storyline was really good and the storytelling was good too.

    Comparing the CGI in this movie to the poorly done Phantom Menace is just silly because the CGI in this is much better and actually makes the movie feel like it’s right out of a comic book.

    Agains the bloggers here at collider and their followers take themselves WAY too seriously in this movie review. Don’t pay any attention to the people living in their mom’s basements and watch this very enjoyable movie.

  • Wladi

    It was obvious that this movie was going to be an uber piece of crap, the reason? the source material, in my opinion green lanten is one of the most stupid comic superheroes ever, what a lack of imagination: u have a ring that makes reality all what u imagine…sheshh, gimme a break….even the Radioactive Man from the Simpsons could be a nice source for a movie…

  • Lance

    Saw the movie. The storytelling is quite terrible, with some HUGE plotholes and stupid villain moves. I can’t believe even hack screenwriters would be so lazy as to let the worst of the flaws pass, so I’m guessing the movie was heavily restructured in editing. Anyway, this isn’t a well made movie, but if you go in intent on having a good time, even at the cost of some brain cells, then by all means, go watch Green Lantern. But it’s the worst super hero film of the summer, so far.

  • Talyseon

    There are some harsh comments in this thread, which begs the question, what exactly do you think they could have done different? I hear a lot of “It was boring!” but nothing about WHY. I personally rather dug it: Check out my review: http://bit.ly/mf728O

  • kungfukid

    Martin Campbell may have directed Casino Royale, but he also directed Legend of Zorro. and that is the Martin Campbell that you’ll see here. Legend of Zorro-esque of awfulness

    i’m really starting to question what made Casino Royale a great film if Campbell isn’t really that talented of a filmmaker. could it be that Paul Haggis touch of the screenplay made it what it is(but he also did Quantum).. hmmm.. anyways, Green Lantern’s awfulness should be pointed at the director alone. the script was just bad(even at 3 writers), but a good director CAN demand a BETTER script if the material he’s working on isn’t really working.

  • penny

    Bill Graham, your review is too kind. What a waste of time.

  • The Dark Knight

    I figured this would be garbage…the trailer STINKS…and usually trailers are better than the movie! Who cares about 3-D and CGI when it comes to a weak plot?? But I have a feeling Captain America will be iconic!!

  • Amboriou Gomez

    I like to watch Action and superheroes movie. And this movie is something like my favorite. This movie based on DC Comics . And all the character of this movie did great work..Thanking you to you for this Review.
    http://virilityex.posterous.com/virility-ex-reviews-does-virility-ex-male-enh

  • Andrew Sanders

    Being a longtime GL/Sinestro fan,i’m very disappointed by all the negative reviews/comments :o(
    Will still catch the movie next week but i won’t be expecting much.

    I really hope they can pull out all the stops in the sequel,…if there ever gets to be one.A badass yellow lantern-ized Mark Strong as Sinestro would be awesome!

    • chris

      Don’t listen to the silly people here who are pretend movie critics … Mark Strong’s Sinestro is great and you are going to enjoy the movie … it uses a good green lantern storyline … make sure you stay for the first half of the ending credits.

      • Andrew Sanders

        Thanks for that Chris-me & a couple’a workmates are catching a 3D showing on Thurs.
        I always stay until the final credits are up,…just in case the film studios sneak any little snippets in.

      • Andrew Sanders

        Watched GL last night & really did enjoy it,…my mates did too.
        Yeah,some of the 3D was a bit hit n’miss & the dialogue was kinda’clunky’at times but the movie was a success in my book.
        Definitely up there with Thor & X-Men First Class for me.
        Mark Strong’s Sinestro was the standout character & his final clip after the credits finished rolling made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up & i almost jumped outta my seat with excitement!

        Even if Ryan Reynolds declines to take part in GL2(& i pray that there will be a sequel),Mark Strong HAS to be Sinestro.Totally awesome!

  • Alex

    I liked the movie…..im sorry you guys want everything to be perfect. If u want to cry about a truly dissapointing movie then bash the dragonball movie.

  • Dane

    This movie blew dogs for quarters. I was highly disappointed. I didnt like the casting from Day 1. Ryan Reynolds as Hal?? I thought Timothy Olyphant Or Josh Dumahel. Sinesto was dope. So was the supporting cast. Hal just sucked.

  • erwiny

    I liked it! I don’t know what all the hating is about.

    Granted, it’s not Dark Knight or Star Trek 2009… but dammit! It’s not Catwoman bad.

    I liked it way better than the Hulk reboot and Thor.

    It was entertaining. The world of OA was awesome. Acting was decent.

    Ryan Reynolds was good as Hal Jordan.

  • We Got Flash

    I relish, lead to I discovered just what I used to be looking for. You have ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

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