It’s not every day we get to be excited for a new comic book movie like Green Lantern. No, we only get that excitement once every couple of months when Hollywood decides to churn out a new CGI-filled comic book adaptation. With a cast of Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, and Peter Sarsgaard with Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, Edge of Darkness) at the helm, the film had fans excited. However, somewhere along the line, something went wrong with Green Lantern.
Green Lantern is the story of Hal Jordan (Reynolds), a test pilot who is chosen to take on the responsibilities of wearing a ring that harnesses the power of will to fight evil on an intergalactic scale. With the ring on his finger, he becomes a “Green Lantern”, a group of universal peacekeepers. When an enemy uses the power of fear to threaten the world, only a Green Lantern with enough will power can defeat it.
The script for Green Lantern seems to be very thin, lacking in any sort of emotion, and doesn’t explain anything in any great detail. That seems to be one of the risks when there are four people credited writing the screenplay. In this case it was Greg Berlanti (Everwood, Eli Stone), Michael Green (Smallville, Heroes), Marc Guggenheim (Eli Stone, No Ordinary Family), and Michael Goldenberg (Contact). It also seems to be one of the risks of creating a screenplay based on a comic book character with many different story arcs. All of the writers on Green Lantern have experience in good sci-fi and super hero stories, but for some reason, it feels like there was a disconnect with this movie. It often seems as though the movie was made entirely by the visual effects department and the writers weren’t given much of a chance to include any major plot points or backstory.
Green Lantern is a confusing movie because it wants to be too many things. Some scenes want to be more of a family movie, while others want to be a violent, gritty comic book movie. Other parts are just plain silly. Hal Jordan has the power to do anything he can put his mind to, but mostly uses this power the same way Jim Carrey used his powers in the 1994 movie, The Mask. Reynolds’ performance is solid for how it was written, but there just isn’t much to work with. Every once in a while, Hal has flashbacks to the death of his father, but even these scenes feel unnecessary and don’t include much emotion.
There is an attempt at giving Hal more depth when we meet the love interest, Carol Ferris, played by Lively. Still, most of the time it seems like a completely unbelievable relationship because Carol is also a very one-dimensional character. The only real standout in the cast is Hector Hammond, played by Sarsgaard.
Hector is a biologist and college professor who gets no respect from his father, played by Tim Robbins, or his students. At one point in the movie his body is attacked by the very biology of the enemy, Parallax. During his transformation he turns into Eric Stoltz’s character from Peter Bogdanovich’s Mask. (Yeah, it’s odd how this movie reminded me of two separate mask-related movies.) Sarsgaard plays the victimized nerd-gone-mad character perfectly and pulls off Hector Hammond with a lot of emotion. You can really see the jealousy, rage, and fear in his character, unlike most of the other characters in the movie. That may seem like a small thing in a comic book movie, but when the heroes’ and villains’ emotions are what fuel their powers, it should be more significant.
The movie isn’t all bad, but it’s probably not one that will be on anyone’s top 10 list. The special effects are incredible at times, and Green Lantern will probably be used to show off new home theater equipment at a Best Buy somewhere when it’s released on Blu-Ray. Still, Some of it looked a bit too cartoony. The whole movie is almost entirely CGI and I believe, if they had gone any further with the CGI, there would have only been the need for voice actors. I’m usually against so much CGI in one movie, but most of Green Lantern’s CGI is pretty incredible to look at. Even the 3D, which is something I usually find very gimmicky, was very good. It never bothered me and actually stayed consistently good looking throughout the entire movie.
Green Lantern isn’t a great movie, but if you are a big fan of Green Lantern/DC Comics, you might still enjoy it.