Review: Green Lantern
REVIEW: I'm going to preface this review by admitting that, other than a quick Wikipedia search before the film, I know absolutely nothing about the GREEN LANTERN as a comic book character. However, I also knew nothing about THOR, or IRON MAN before seeing those films, but that didn't stop me from enjoying both immensely. Sadly, that's not the case here.
I wanted to like GREEN LANTERN, as I'm a major fan of director Martin Campbell, who's helped resuscitate my beloved James Bond franchise twice; with GOLDENEYE in 1995, and the great CASINO ROYALE in 2006. He's also directed several terrific action films, including THE MASK OF ZORRO, the underrated NO ESCAPE (a really fun B-action flick), and the silly, but fun VERTICAL LIMIT. That said, after watching GREEN LANTERN, I think he might have been a disastrous choice here, as a director in the mold of Christopher Nolan or Bryan Singer, with a strong take on the mythology of the GREEN LANTERN universe, is sorely lacking. A journeyman director was NOT what this franchise needed. That said, Campbell should not shoulder all the blame.
GREEN LANTERN is a textbook example of what happens when a bunch of talented people get together, with the best intentions, to create a massively budgeted tentpole film, without going through the bother of putting together a half-way decent script. This is movie-making by committee, and it boggles the mind that no less than three writers (all of whom have some solid credits to their CV's) were not able to come up with something better than a script that feels like a left-over from one of Menahem Golan's 21st Century Films superhero productions from the nineties (CAPTAIN AMERICA and the still unreleased '94 version of FANTASTIC FOUR).
I suppose the powers that be at DC and Warners assumed that top-notch cast, and some downright incredible CGI work would be able to cover the script's shortcomings, but that's not the case. One almost feels bad for Ryan Reynolds, who's clearly doing his best to inject some life into the film, but is badly handicapped by a script that forces him to replay the same clichéd character beats over and over again. Hal Jordan, as portrayed in the movie, is basically a superhero knockoff of Maverick from TOP GUN, with his brash, risk-taking personality trying to cover for his issues surrounding his father's accidental death (complete with a cringe inducing flashback that got giggles out of the audience I saw this with). There's probably a dozen scenes here where a character lectures Jordan on being irresponsible, or admonishes him for always running away from things. Blake Lively has at least four of these scenes.
As for Lively, she's absolutely, drop-dead gorgeous, but her performance is tepid at best. In THE TOWN, she proved that she's much more than just a pretty face, but she has nothing to work in GL. As a result, she's extremely two-dimensional, and doesn't bring any of the spunk Natalie Portman brought to THOR, or Gwyneth Paltrow brought to IRON MAN. As for the villain, it's always troublesome when the big bad is a CGI character, and Parallax never seems like too much of a threat, being that he's little more than a special effect. As his earth-bound counterpart, Peter Sarsgaard, usually an incredible actor, is just buried under goofy prosthetics, and despite a subplot involving his competitiveness with Hal, isn't developed enough to be a threat.
The only one who really impresses is Mark Strong as Sinestro (a GL-fanboy buddy says Strong nailed it), but he's given so little screen-time, that it seems the only reason he's here is to tee-up future films. Nevertheless, he's great in his handful of scenes. I also enjoyed the opening action sequence with Temuera Morrison as Abin Sur, although, if he's a GREEN LANTERN, why is he flying around in a spaceship?
Probably the biggest problem with GREEN LANTERN, other than the script, is the overall flow of the film. Editorially, GREEN LANTERN is a mess. It runs a relatively short 105 minutes, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn it originally ran a lot longer, as it reeks of something that's been cut to the bone in the editing room. We jump back and forth from one universe to the next, with awkward transitions, and important events seem to happen off screen. Still, even at it's current length, GREEN LANTERN drags.
That said, GREEN LANTERN, while a total mess, has a few things going for it. The one area GREEN LANTERN is a total success is in the eye-candy department. The CGI, which worried a lot of fans in the early trailers, looks great, although I still find Reynolds looks a little off when wearing the CGI mask. However, the GREEN LANTERN suit actually looks pretty cool, and it should also be said, this is one movie where the 3D is actually very good (and properly color corrected- meaning no eyestrain). I also really liked the score by James Newton Howard, which makes the action seem a lot more exciting than it actually is at times.
If DC is going to really compete with Marvel at the multiplex, they're going to have to do a lot better than the films they've put out recently, which included the awful JONAH HEX, and the mildly entertaining THE LOSERS. Marvel's strength seems to be that they really have a handle on how to transfer their comic book universe to the big screen. That approach works for Marvel, but maybe DC needs to go another way. Look at what an auteur like Christopher Nolan did with Batman. Maybe instead of trying to imitate Marvel, they can go the Nolan route, and make their films more daring and unique. At the very least, they need them to have something more to offer than just eye candy. I really have no idea how hardcore GREEN LANTERN fans are going to react to this. They may love it, so if you happen to be a fan, take my review with a grain of salt, as I'm writing from the perspective of an average moviegoer. However, if you're like me and you don't know a Tomar-Re from an Abin-Sur, you might be better off waiting for CAPTAIN AMERICA.