Movie Review: Green Lantern

Green Lantern Poster

As something fun to do, take a look at the Rotten Tomatoes page for Green Lantern right here. I’ll wait. Back? Okay, as of writing this, the critics reviews are in at 23% fresh whereas the audience is at 72% fresh. That is a pretty big discrepancy and I think I can explain it.

First off, let me say that I enjoyed it and I would add to the fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes if I cared to put my opinion there. The movie was fun to watch and I was able to enjoy watching Hal Jordan’s introduction to the Green Lantern Corps and the adventure he had. I’d recommend watching the movie.

That being said, I can see why critics might not like it. The story is somewhat mediocre with a lot of telling and not showing (especially at the beginning), and the dialogue often isn’t very good and can get cheesy. The CGI isn’t the best CGI in the world and there is a lot of it, with Oa almost being entirely CGI, especially with the Corps. The love story wasn’t all that good and you really don’t know why Carol and Hal are into each other aside from both being attractive. All of that leads to a bad movie in terms of what critics want. All that being said, I can also explain why people other than critics are liking it.

Green Lantern is a fun movie. It really is fun. I enjoyed seeing Hal fly for the first time as a Lantern, see him create various constructs in battle, and trying to master using the ring. I enjoyed seeing the Corps and all the various aliens there, including the non-humanoid aliens and all the various others. There are a couple scenes where you see the Corps in its entirety and you really think that the Corps is incredibly vast and diverse and large. While the costume’s glowing and lines are distracting sometimes, you can see the classic Green Lantern costume within the suit, especially when it is less glowy. Hal, being played by Ryan Reynolds is basically Ryan Reynolds playing himself playing Hal. It isn’t the Hal I remember from the comics, but he has the Hal I know in him. I’ve read the original Silver Age Green Lantern stories and Hal’s attitude in those can be seen in this. While he’s sillier and goofier, because he’s being played by Reynolds, he still has the courage and willpower, along with the determination that Hal had. While the movie decided to just data dump the backstory of the Green Lantern Corps, it didn’t feel that bad as a data dump and I think that it probably helped people who didn’t know anything about the Corps.

I’ve already talked about Hal, but other characters felt well done in some areas and less so in others. Sinestro really feels like a character who likes being a member of the Corps and would do anything to protect what he feels needs protecting, but he also seems more honorable in the movie and the tiny scene in the credits (stick around for a little while) doesn’t seem to fit well with me just because it doesn’t feel like where his character was at the end. Hector Hammond was the classic friend with the main characters, but was less attractive and always wanted the girl and now is using his new powers for evil because he was neglected. I guess they needed to give Hammond more motivation, but I think that getting rid of him knowing Hal and Carol wouldn’t have hurt anything and him just being a douchebag would have worked as well. Carol seemed okay, but was kind of lame as the love interest.

It mostly stuck true to it’s comic origins. While it put Parallax as the main villain behind Hector Hammond, it still was mostly true. Abin Sur, being mortally wounded, crashes his spaceship on Earth, where his ring finds out Hal Jordan, cocky test pilot without fear, and chooses him to be a Green Lantern. After learning about the Corps and training on Oa, Hal goes on to fight evil. Hector’s origins are reminiscent of the Secret Origin version where investigating Abin Sur’s ship leads Hammond to become deformed and gain his powers, albeit with the Parallax twist instead of it being just a meteorite. Sinestro felt like he was heading down the road to becoming the villain everyone knows him to be, but lacked enough development to really go into his motivations. In general, nobody was really developed very well, with Hal being most developed and even then, there were parts that weren’t as developed as they could be. As an example more recently, Thor really hammered (pardon the pun) home Thor’s motivation and personality and development, along with Loki’s. You knew why Loki was so motivated to do what he was doing. You knew why Thor did what he did. Sinestro, in comparison, was a generic Green Lantern who was somewhat harsh and a leader, and seemed to not like Hal only because Abin Sur was his BFF and Hal isn’t Abin Sur.

Despite everything above, what you should really take away from this is that you should ignore the critics. If you’re looking for an Academy Award winning movie, don’t expect that in Green Lantern. If you’re looking for a fun movie that has action, a little comedy, a little romance and some superheroes fighting with glowing green constructs, go see Green Lantern. It isn’t deep and it isn’t necessarily a great movie, but if you go in wanting to have fun, you should find some in Green Lantern.

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I love Deadpool far too much for my own good. I like other things too, though. If you really want to know something about me, just ask. I never liked these, because I never know what to say.

11 thoughts on “Movie Review: Green Lantern

  1. The mythology is nonsensical and the plot takes forever to get going. But once it does, the movie takes advantage of a strong cast and a director who knows what he’s doing. Good Review! Check out mine when you can!

    • The mythology is very similar to DC’s already existing continuity, mostly changing Parallax’s origin (maybe) and that Abin Sur was the greatest GL who had defeated Parallax in secret before the movie began. So if you think it’s nonsensical, it’s because you think GL is nonsensical to begin with. If that’s the case, then oh well.
      I agree that the cast is good, but that they weren’t used as best they could, especially with the dialogue they had to say and the romance story.

  2. In talking to someone else who was a fan and saw it, he felt the exact same way, so it seems to actually be a consensus that it is a fun movie that’s enjoyable to watch but not objectively good.
    I do feel that GL was probably the weakest of the movies that have come out so far, but also one that I want to see again more so than X-Men: First Class (which I enjoyed and I think was better objectively) and am going to again next week with friends. Waiting for video is fine and I understand entirely.
    Hopefully Cap is awesome, as I have friends who love Cap who will be disappointed with a poorly done Cap.

  3. Thanks for the review. The bad reviews and some of the trailers were scaring me away a little bit, but maybe I should give it a try.

    I thought X-men was great and thought Thor was definitely overrated. We’ll see what I think about this.

    • I always go into superhero movies wanting to enjoy them and have fun. Green Lantern is the movie this year that I had the most fun watching. I think that if you go in expecting it to be a great movie, you’ll be disappointed, but if you go in wanting to see Ryan Reynolds punch people in the face with a giant green construct fist, then you’ll probably have a good time.

  4. Green Lantern falls into the same category for me that Avatar did – it was a movie brought to life not because someone had a story they wanted to tell or a director had fascinating shots in mind or because there were timely themes to be explored, but because effects artists found cool new software. This was stronger than Avatar, because it had a better cast and stronger writing, but it was still a deeply flawed movie that exists largely to prop up its effects.

    For me, part of the problem was in pacing: the scenes on Earth, with Hammond, were solid – Sarsgaard was a charismatic, goofy villain who could have propped up the movie, even in its weaker scenes, while Parallax was a computer-generated cloud. The ultimate focus on Parallax and the Corp probably added 100 million dollars to the budget, and it was for a charisma-free villain who was easily defeated in 10 minutes by a single, brand new GL. Similarly, the only reason ANY of the space stuff existed was as a bone to the fanboys and an obvious franchise-starter – it contributed nothing to the movie, cost a fortune, and seriously messed up the pacing.

    I think critics were too harsh on it – sure, it was more shoddily constructed than Thor or X-Men: First Class, but it was getting D’s and F’s that it didn’t deserve – but I think it’s fallacious to claim that they only didn’t like it because it wasn’t an ‘Academy Award Winning movie’… particularly since many critics notoriously despise the Academy Awards for pandering to mainstream successes over genuinely challenging performances and movies (though the level of disrespect given to the Oscars pales in how they treat the Golden Globes and the Emmys). They didn’t like it because it was poorly paced, overstuffed, had a go-nowhere love story, and had probably its strongest actor, Sarsgaard, playing second fiddle to an evil space cloud.

    Ultimately, the movie’s kitchen sink attitude, in which it tried to include EVERY cool aspect of the Green Lantern mythos all at once, displayed a lack of confidence. It was a move by people who suspected they were never getting a second movie and wanted to include Sinestro, Kilowag, etc… while they still had the chance. And, unfortunately, they were right: they sabotaged their own movie to BE right, but they were still probably right. A tightly-paced actioner set largely on Earth, against Sarsgaard, only tying into the GLC as a whole during the credits sequence, would have been much better received – look at Thor – and would have had more time to flesh out Carol and Hector, both of whom were severely underserved. It would have cost at least 150 million less, setting up a reasonable goal for the film to meet and assuring a sequel.

    Also, the scene setting up Sinestro’s credit-scene was cut, but will presumably exist on the DVD.

    • I didn’t claim that they didn’t like it only because it wasn’t an “Academy Award Winning movie.” I said that it wasn’t an Academy Award winning movie, but if you read the review, you should see that I pointed out a bunch of flaws which are the reasons I think critics didn’t like it in the third paragraph.

      Are you claiming that Thor only had one setting which made the pace better, with something more only in the credits? Because aside from Hawkeye’s involvement along with Agent Coulson and name-dropping Iron Man, it was very split between two worlds. Yes, Thor did a better job, but Thor was very much a movie that has the hero on Earth, but also has a vast, CGI, pretty looking group of aliens in their own world that only partially visit Earth.

      Hector Hammond could have been interesting, but he had nothing going for him in the movie. He was barely built up as a character, and they didn’t go very far into explaining his motivation. He was interested in Carol? If she had ever shown interest in him or there was some backstory there, then maybe it would give him some depth. As is, he just felt like a disturbed stalker who thought so highly of himself that he ignored every single sign that nobody liked him. Sarsgaard was charismatic? He had absolutely no charisma. He was boring, lame and above all else, disturbing in a way that made him more lame.

      The Corps could have been done better, but unless the story took place in a day after he finds the ring, so as to justify the Corps not coming to talk to him before he fights the main villain, they need to be involved unless you don’t want to include them at all, at which point you need another explanation for the ring. Without explaining the Corps, the ring and the costume make little sense to someone. Sure, they should have done a better job, but introducing the character in the first movie, then explaining his backstory in the second doesn’t make a lot of sense. It could have been better, but it should have been there in the movie itself (and not as a post-credits scene).

      • It’s easy enough to explain Abin Sur and the Corps without having them IN the movie – in fact, that would be a good way to set up Parallax: the Corps found out Abin Sur was dead, but was too busy in its full-scale war with Parallax to hunt out the new recruit right away. That way, you could have ended the movie with Sinestro, Kilowag, etc… coming to recruit Hal – which was really all they did in this movie, it was just a subplot stretched over 30 minutes instead of the 3-4 minutes such a plot demands. The Corps, after all, was utterly unimportant to this movie. Hal learned all his lessons on Earth. Hal had all his relationships on Earth. His backstory, his motivation, all of it was on Earth. Oa contributed nothing to the film whatsoever.

        Hammond got underserved, but the reason he was a compelling villain – the film’s only compelling villain, in fact – was because he was played by a talented actor. Watching him confront his father and Doctor Waller was a masterclass in camp menace, just the right combination of over-the-top theatricality and film-friendly eeeeeevilness to make a rock-solid comic book baddie. Compare that to Parallax, who was a large cloud of angry dust that sometimes had a face. Sure, it would have been nice to have a bad guy who was neither a campy nor a cloud, but with the level of the writing in the movie (and the amount of time the movie had to dedicate to any single villain due to its split focus), that wasn’t going to happen.

        I’m not claiming that Thor only had one setting, as I am not an idiot. But Thor had a decent enough sense of pacing to give each setting a purpose and, more importantly, a character-based arc. Green Lantern, on the other hand, put Oa in exclusively for the most expensive training montage ever set to film.

        Thor is actually a very good comparison in What To Do Right with this kind of story. The big, cosmic baddie was played by a real, talented actor with real emotions and an actual arc and motivations. The mini-baddie, Destroyer, was a CGI menace without feeling… who only took up about 5 minutes of screen time. Consequently, you had a memorable, well-played main villain AND you got a big CGI-heavy fight scene.

        Green Lantern, on the other hand, had the big, controlling, cosmic bad guy as a CGI fear cloud with no personality or arc – and because he was the focus, the actual human menace didn’t have time to really develop his own character. The link between Parallax and Hammond didn’t really make any sense, and because the big, CGI-heavy fight scene was supposed to be the climactic moment of the story, of Hal’s journey, it fell flat on a major level.

        Green Lantern had better fight CGI than Thor by quite a bit, I thought – though the design for Asgard was more impressive than the design for Oa – but it squandered it on spectacle that lacked depth.

  5. Maybe I’m just too big fan of the Corps. I love Rot Lop Fan and Killowog and I love the concept of Sinestro as a GL. I still want the Corps in, but I guess we have to disagree on that point.

    Sure he had the evilness to him, but he wasn’t, well, interesting. I was more interested in Parallax probably because 1) Parallax was a bigger threat that was obviously behind Hammond’s powers, 2) Parallax was better developed as a character in the movie and 3) I like Parallax. Now, 2 of those reasons are why he was better in the movie to people in general, while the last is obviously only my reasoning. Still, you like Hammond, I don’t. Let’s just agree to disagree.

    I agree that Thor did a better job for the most part. I don’t think Asgard was better designed than Oa, I think both were different enough to both be cool without really one being better. I asked if you thought Thor was only one setting because of the sentence it is in. You describe how much better a movie taking place only on Earth with a live-action villain is, then prove your point by saying that Thor is a movie to look at. What I take away is that Thor succeeded because it was only on Earth with a live-action villain. Sorry you weren’t clearer.

    We obviously disagree on a lot. If you want to try and debate further, go ahead, but I think we just disagree on something fundamental too much.

  6. Pingback: Superhero Movies 2011 « read/RANT!

  7. The rating has dropped to 52% :/ The movie had too much going for it mainly though. Too many characters in it that needed to get some attention besides Hal while he also had to explore his powers. In general too, I felt that there could have been more (or maybe better?) action to this movie than what we got. As you said as well, the sinewy outfit with glowing lines didn’t work for me and I’d have felt better if they did leather or something that would look better on the screen, be less distracting, and look closer to the original costumes.

    I had heard this was meant to be a trilogy (and apparently still is – see link below) though. Assuming nothing happens to the 2nd film being made, I have high hopes the next one will be a lot better. They explored to a degree the characters from the first film so we can get more of a story going between them instead of trying to explain their history. Not to mention hopefully more action which is something that I at least tend to expect from a superhero movie.

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