[Movie] Green Lantern (2011)


green-lantern-poster

There are plot holes in Green Lantern that wider than the galaxies that the movie’s titular corp is supposed to protect, but it’s entertaining enough if all you want is to ward off boredom.(3.5/10)

If this movie came out in the era of Batman Forever or some of the old school Superman movies with Christopher Reeves, then the movie would have fit right in with the standard and expectations of the ‘superhero’ movie of that time. In a modern era however, especially after classics like the The Dark Knight, the complexity and sophistication expected out of a superhero movies is just a lot higher than it used to be. It’s a sign that cinema is progressing across all genres rather than stagnating in a comfort zone but unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how big a Green Lantern fan you are, it means movies like this one are just not going to make the cut.  Green Lantern is not, in any shape, size or form, a thinking man’s movie. It is certainly not the movie for the Green Lantern fan who will see his or her favourite franchise get a serious case of the Hollywood treatment.

What, you ask, is the Hollywood treatment? Well, different people have different definitions of it, but it is essentially a tendency for Hollywood writers to have an oddly shared sense of humour, drama and romance. It is the reason why you see so very many movies with just slightly different plots sharing altogether too many lines of dialogue or general plot ideas. There’s a few particularly visible examples in Green Lantern:

  • The “fight evil with evil” line. It’s so common, and fails so often that the Guardians just ended up looking stupider when they followed that game-plan. Bonus marks if the guy who came up with the idea offers to do the deed himself.
  • The “Give humanity a chance” or “Trust in humanity!” line. The Guardians got it right – in the bigger scheme of things Earth probably wasn’t worth saving and 200,000 years of human life isn’t really that big a deal compared to how old the universe is.
  • The whole “You’re life is pathetic because you can’t handle commitment”. All evidence in the movie suggests that Hal’s got a pretty decent life going for him. He’s scores with the ladies, he’s a got a family that cares for him and even some friends (!). I’m not too sure what’s so pathetic about it. Oh, and he flies a fighter jet for a living. Pathetic life indeed. Bonus marks if the character has lots of money and is bitching about having no one to share it with.
  • The villain defeating a group of seasoned veterans but losing to the newbie. Bonus marks if the newbie wins with the power of the heart.
  • Face mask that only covers eyes and cheekbones constituting a disguise. Bonus if the disguise consists entirely of sunglasses. The only worse offender is Clark Kent/Superman. Calling that mask a disguise is like claiming that you’re not naked as long as you’re wearing socks. Sure, it technically covers some part of you, but all the important bits are right there.
  • “You want me? Come and get me!” Bonus marks if hero makes cringe-worthy pun after defeating villain.

There are probably more, but this is not a rant against the use of tropes in fiction but rather that it’s really disappointing that writers can’t be bothered to try something new or even to put the same tropes together in a different way. It reeks of laziness not a lack of talent and that is arguably a lot worse than vice versa. Notice that in a lot of the above cases, the writers fell (thankfully) short of going for the bonus marks. Before one can give them props for this, however, consider this – do writers deserve credit for not taking stale plot devices to their logical extremes? No, they most certainly do not. The other overarching problem with the plot is that it takes too long to get going. We spend of a lot of time with Pathetic-life Hal and not enough with the Green-Lantern-Hal. For example, the fighter jet scene dragged on unnecessarily and didn’t provide enough interesting material to justify its length. Yes, ladies and gents, this movie managed to make fighter jet dogfights relatively boring. In comparison the final fight is a mere 5 minutes long. Hal flies in, lures Parallax like a little mouse and chucks him into the Sun. The problem with this convenient resolution? Parallax was a Guardian i.e. one of the most intelligent beings in the universe and he fell for a trick that cavemen (presumably) used to trap goats. Also, Abin Sur, the most revered Green Lantern (or so we’re told) died fighting a newly freed Parallax. But Hal (obviously because humans are superior) can suddenly defeat a Parallax that has only grown stronger, despite having noticeably poorer skills. That’s not even the worst part: Sinestro, who first comes across as the jerk, gains his villainy credentials by advocating the yellow ring and disparaging Earth. There is no real point in going through every single plot hole in the movie and indeed, there isn’t enough space here to do so succinctly.

The cast consists of an amiable lot though they aren’t overly talented. That might not be a very generous thing to say, considering how this script didn’t seem like one which an actor could show off his/her range in. That said, I remain distinctly unconvinced that Blake Lively even has a range. In all fairness, I’ve only ever seen her in Gossip Girl, where the only acting pre-requisite seems to be the ability to portray over-privileged angst. In any case, Lively does a passable job here putting up a spunky performance, making her character warm but at the same time, tough. Making her character a test pilot also helped establish her credentials as kind-of-but-not-quite badass. The character that was supposed to be badass turned out to be considerably less so. Ryan Reynolds, aka the un-Funny Deadpool (which is almost as big a treason as NOT killing Spiderman’s uncle would have been) from X-Men: Origins aka the only guy to play two popular superheroes from two rival companies, is by turns entertaining and incredibly annoying. Before I go into Reynolds’ interpretation of Hal Jordan, let’s go on a quick journey. I’d like to take us back to the early 2000s when Cartoon Network was showing a series called ‘The Justice League’. The cartoon version had Superman, Batman, The Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, The Flash and of course, the Green Lantern in its core line-up. But that Green Lantern was not Hal Jordan – it was Jon Stewart, or maybe Jon Stuart or maybe even John Stewart, or some such. Leaving aside the fact that Hal Jordan and Jon (John?) looked nothing alike (Jon/John was black and Hal pretty much as white as they get), their personalities were totally different. I’m not saying the studio or the writers fucked up, nor am I even going near the Hollywood-is-afraid-of-black-superheroes thing. In fact, in the comic books Jon and Hal are two distinct Green Lanterns, active at different times and Hal is clearly the more prominent of the two characters, so I’m not insinuating any foul play here. Nope, my main beef is that I was used to Jon’s brand of humour from the cartoon – he would generally play the straight man to The Flash’s antics and often get these great one-liners which worked all the better because of his serious personality, all of which is missing in the movie. That’s understandable since they’re different characters, but it did alienate me to a degree. In the movie though, Hal’s personality is much more like The Flash’s. This means that Hal’s humour seems to be more strongly reliant on gags than great lines. And as questionably talented as Reynolds may be, his humour in Green Lantern is rather too hit-and-miss for my taste. He has some reasonably good moments but dilutes them with a lot of lame gags. I can’t pin all the blame for that on him, but some actors can work gags better than others. The humour situation only deteriorates when you factor Blake Lively in – the girl may know how to act but like a lot of beautiful women, she seems to be under the impression that she’s funny because all the guys laugh at her jokes. The truth is, when she’s on screen that humour seems awkward and sometimes threatens to ruin the chemistry that Lively and Reynolds have going on. Last but not least. Peter Sarsgard puts in a delightfully creep performance as Hector Hammond. There are times when he seems to be overdoing it (Hamming it up?) especially when he threatens to burst out into evil laughter.  Even though his character is more of mini-boss than anything else, Hammond is the more personal of Hal’s two enemies and therefore, in a way, more dangerous.

It feels like the studio spent so much money on the special effects that the studio had to compromise on the script and probably even the actors. But were the special effects worth it? Well, not really since a better script was clearly more sorely needed but, truth be told, the special effects weren’t too shabby. With Avatar and the advent of 3D movies, our expectations have become rather high as far the visual spectacle of cinema goes. Even bearing that in mind though, I still don’t think the special effects were all the great. Perhaps it’s because I’m so accustomed to the cartoon, which obviously was able to allow its writers and by extension, the Green Lantern character to use their/his imagination more freely and come up with more innovative uses for his ring than a goddamned race track. Either way, apart from the scenes on Oa (see pic above), which looked great but struck me as rather derivative, there wasn’t all that much of a special effects offering. All in all, don’t watch it. The plot’s pretty superficial and the ‘action’ scenes, such as they are, are short and really not all that exciting. Really, I don’t even want to talk about this movie anymore, just don’t watch it. It managed to ruin the decades of interesting plot lines and character development the comics built up in just over 100 minutes. If that doesn’t set off your bad movie alarm bells, seek professional help.

Starring:

Ryan Reynolds – Hal Jordan

lake Lively – Carol Ferris

Peter Sarsgaard – Hector Hammond

Mark Strong – Sinestro

Angela Bassett – Doctor Waller

Tim Robbins – Hammond

Director:

Martin Campbell

More information:

Wikipedia

Rotten Tomatoes

Metacritic

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2 thoughts on “[Movie] Green Lantern (2011)

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