Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Film Review - GREEN LANTERN (2011)

I went through a tiny comic book phase in 1997-1998.  I was a DC guy.  For all the non-nerds, that means I liked the DC comic characters (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern) more than Marvel characters (X-Men, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor).  And really the only reason why is because Superman was kind of my nickname.

My second favorite character was Green Lantern (the Kyle Rayner version... God I feel like such a dork right now.)  The power fascinated me.  He had a power ring that was able to construct anything he thought of.  Being a kid with a giant imagination, I thought that that would be the coolest power ever.  I always thought that a Green Lantern movie would be something awesome, but I knew that a movie about a second tier superhero might not sell that well.  Fast forward to 2011 where Superhero movies are still the rage.

This is gonna be kind of a weird review because I find myself reviewing the criticism more than the movie.  Why?  GREEN LANTERN wasn't THAT bad, and everyone needs to calm the fuck down with the hyperbole.  24% on rotten tomatoes?  For serious?   Fantastic Four was bad.  Batman and Robin was terrible.   Green Lantern is a serviceable, ambitious superhero movie that had its share of problems... but didn't suck THAT much.

Ambitious, Jack?  Yes.  The scope of the story that they try to tell in Green Lantern is incredibly ambitious for a summer blockbuster.  The story spans across the universe and involves multiple CGI aliens with varying success of believability.  It has eons of mythology to deal with.  That's a big ass story.  I think it's failing because people ain't ready for a movie THIS comic-booky.  (Which kinda makes me nervous about the AVENGERS movie.)  The movie opens on a somewhat-terrible CGI sequence, and there is just a lot of things you have to accept immediately to go on with the story.  I can understand this taking people out of the movie.

But GREEN LANTERN is similar to THOR.  It's a fish-out-of-water movie (albeit GL is a human in an alien world) in which a hero has to grow up and take responsibility in order to be worthy of his power.  The majority of both movies take place on earth and on another planet (though THOR's CGI was better.)  THOR found a good balance between his home world and earth.  GREEN LANTERN is like two movies set in two different places.  The balance isn't quite there, and there are times it feels disjointed.  Really, when Ryan Reynolds is on Oa (the Green Lantern planet), he seems more CGI than a human.

The initial trailers made it seem like the leads were miscast... People are getting their panties in a bunch because Ryan Reynolds isn't the Hal Jordan they envisioned... You see, Hal in the comics (who was before AND after my time) isn't fearful or as reckless or as much of a jerk as he is in the movie.  Basically, Hal Jordan isn't Van Wilder, and it seems like Ryan Reynolds is ALWAYS Van Wilder.  Hal in the comics is apparently a hero from the getgo.  But movies need a journey and character development.  Characters need inner conflict as much as they need outer conflict.  So, get over it, nerds.  Ryan Reynolds did fine.  He was good not great, but there were moments that he made the movie genuinely fun... albeit in a Van Wilder way...

I'm happy to report that, in the movie, Blake Lively is NOT made of wood as the acting in the trailer would suggest.  She and Ryan Reynolds have real chemistry, and I like their scenes together.  It was humanizing, and this is good given how many cold CGI scenes there are.  She didn't "January Jones" the film.

To me, Peter Saarsgard's turn as the evil Hector Hammond is probably the best performance of the movie.  (Actually, Mark Strong's Sinestro was enjoyable, too.  Here's hoping a sequel comes out, so he can have his turn.)  His transformation from creepy, harmless and weak to creepier and sinister worked fine... unfortunately, it was squandered.  Really, that's my biggest beef with the movie... the villain.  Any superhero movie is only as good as the villain, and Green Lantern wasted a good one.  Hammond, a xenobiologist and professor, is infected with Parallax (the big bad) which gives Hammond telekinetic powers. (Another one of those "accept it and movie on" things)  Anyways...Hector Hammond was a good villain with formidable powers.  A fight between a dude who creates things with his imagination versus a dude who can move things with his mind... That's an interesting fight.  They touched on it briefly, and it had the makings of a fun, comic book battle.  But (SPOILER alert) it didn't last, Parallax came to earth and killed Hammond before a rematch.

Parallax is a crappy villain.  What is Parallax?  Lordy... Parallax is a cloud (or something) made up of fear (or something).  Or it was powered by fear?... And it sucked fear or the souls out of people... Either way, it took an abstract thing from people, and the more it got, the bigger and more powerful it became... I guess.  Okay... sure.  I've accepted a lot of stuff so far, I'll accept that... Sounds menacing:  A giant cloud composed of fear that kills you.  How in the world do you fight that?  What are the cloud's weaknesses?  The movie set up this whole thing of fear versus willpower, so willpower must surely be a weakness, right?  Reynolds has a great scene where he's being overpowered, and he recites the Oath.  Then Bam!  He gets the upperhand for a moment.  Neat.  But apparently the thing that REALLY hurts a cloud composed of fear are missiles and the sun... See, that's when I started calling bullshit.

There was a lot wrong with it... a lot.  But, it's a good, old-fashioned, summer movie escapism.  If you think that you're gonna see this movie, you might as well see it in theaters because there are some good CGI moments.

In general... GREEN LANTERN is a comic book movie... starring Ryan Reynolds... about an intergalactic peace keeping force made up of aliens... and Van Wilder... that enforce justice and peace with a ring that creates things from their imagination.  So, movie critics... what the crap did you expect?  It's a silly, brainless, popcorn movie that's fun at times.

Originally I was gonna give it a 7, but as I wrote this, I realized that I had more problems than I thought... so, I give it 6.5 out of 10 sandy vaginas.

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