Green Lantern Review

So, after all the trailers, I finally got the chance to see the hotly-anticipated Green Lantern movie last weekend.  But in the face of a critical mauling, what did I actually think of it?   Beware, as I’m not going to be shy about spoilers in the following discussion.

Well, in a nutshell, I enjoyed it, but also felt it was a bit of a missed opportunity.  Many aspects were well done.  While occasionally the CGI didn’t quite hold up, the costume I’d been very sceptical of did look brilliant on the big screen.  I did love the way the green energy underneath it would flare up as Hal focused his willpower into the ring.  That did look really neat.   Likewise the way the constructs were realised looked nice, although with the things like flamethrowers and the gattling gun, I’d have preferred the fire, or shell casings to be energy as well (maybe they tried it and it didn’t look right?).

All the stuff on Oa we got glimpses of in the trailers looked brilliant.  I loved all the weird and wonderful alien Lanterns we got, and as a fan of the comics, there was a lot of fun to be had seeing who I could recognise.   The training scene with Hal, Tomar Re, Kilowog and Sinestro was a real high point of the film.  My only real complaint was the Oa stuff we saw in the trailer was pretty much all there really was in the film.

Blake Lively as Carol Ferris really impressed me as well.  To me she seemed to have jumped straight out of the comics, and loved her interactions with Hal.  It really makes me hope we get a sequel with a sapphire ring at one point so we can really build on her character.

As for villains, I was surprised by the liberties taken with Parallax, and yet it really worked for me as a way to bring him to the big screen.  Despite never being named in the film, the rogue Guardian Krona being infected by the yellow energy to become Parallax worked well (and isn’t too far from assuming he was just possessed by the yellow space bug of the comics).  When Parallax would open his giant mouth full of razor sharp teeth it really reminded me of when he would do the same thing in the comics.   While many will no doubt have issues with him becoming a Galactus-esque giant space cloud, I personally thought it worked much better here than in the Fantastic 4, as Parallax still had a face and voice, and therefore more of a personality as a villain (even if that personality does largely consist of “Rar!  Kill Green Lanterns! Rar!”).  Hector Hammond, while again getting a bit of a pasting in the online reviews, I quite enjoyed.

Although its with Hector that one of my big problems of the film comes forward.  I just think it was trying to do too much.  Honestly, I felt there was some good stuff in the film, and yet it all got a bit muddled.   For me, and possibly this is just as a fan of the comics, I felt the film was strongest during Hal’s trip to Oa, with its weird aliens and embracing the Corps, it brought something different to the glut of Superhero movies we’ve had, and if it had continued down this path into something Star Wars-esque it could’ve been brilliant.  Instead, Hal’s on Oa for at most half an hour, before deciding to quit the Corps in a scene that didn’t quite click.  After seeing some of the trailers focus on this segment in the film over the last month or two, I suspect the studio probably realised this was the strongest segment as well, and its a real missed opportunity that it wasn’t expanded and the threat of Parallax to Earth just dropped in favour of him heading straight to Oa.

While I can understand that there may have been the desire to keep the film grounded on Earth, I can’t help but feel it resulted in the two aspects of the film fighting and both being less as a result.   I could’ve equally been happy with the film focusing on Hal getting the ring, and then the threat of Hector Hammond.  It would’ve allowed them to delve further into the relationship between Hector, Hal and Carol and the aspect of rivalry between Hector and Hal that’s only hinted at in the film.   The larger threat of Parallax and the reveal of the Corps and Oa, could’ve then been the basis of a sequel.  Or focus on Parallax and Oa, while planting the threat of Hammond for the sequel.  Instead, we get Parallax built up as the most evil unstoppable thing ever, before being beaten by Hal, on his own, in about five minutes.   It just could’ve been so much more if it hadn’t been trying to juggle the two villains and settings.

Sinestro likewise, is frustrating.   Mark Strong absolutely nails the part of Sinestro from the current run of the comics, but again because the time spent on Oa is so brief, he doesn’t get any kind of chance to build up a relationship with Hal.  He gets a few good scenes, but its a waste of a brilliant character and actor when again, he could’ve been used so much more.  Even if he’d turned up on Earth to help Hal with Parallax after he’d left Oa, that could’ve worked well.  Allowing him to continue Hal’s training and aid him in the final battle.   It also would have allowed them to sow more seeds for his eventual fall.  Instead we get a brief scene during the end credits of Sinestro donning a yellow ring, for no reason whatsoever.  Throughout the whole film he’s played as loyal to the Corps, and only wanting the ring as a more effective weapon against Parallax.  Hal then goes on to prove Willpower is superior (again, beating Parallax solo in about 5 minutes).  So what’s Sinestro’s reason for taking the ring?   If there is a sequel film, it has a lot of ground to cover to make this make sense.  Something this first film should have been doing.   Sinestro’s turn as a villain would have a lot more impact if he and Hal actually had built up a relationship first.  Again the film just trying to do too much, instead of being focused.

All of which is sounding incredibly negative, and I suppose it is.  But it does all boil down to the film being a missed opportunity.   There were lots of different things being juggled, and the result was none of them being done particular justice.  However on a basic summer blockbuster level the film worked.  The CGI looked incredibly good.  Ryan Reynolds, as expected, was great as Hal Jordan and there was enough action to keep me entertained throughout.   I just wish the film had been able to rise up that extra level.  Especially in a summer that’s already given us Thor and X-Men First Class, both of which I’d probably rate higher than Green Lantern.  X-Men First Class I absolutely adored, and in my opinion absolutely deserves all the high ratings and critical acclaim its been garnering.  Thor meanwhile, juggled similar concepts to Green Lantern in the form of Asgard and Earth, and managed to do it with a focus and heart that Green Lantern lacked.  Thor’s script had that extra sparkle in the humour and the way it balanced its ideas that Green Lantern couldn’t really match.  Perhaps again by being a bit more focused in its villains, rather than trying to setup too much at once.

At the end of the day, I did come out of the film happy.  And recent news would have the studio still continuing with plans for a sequel which I’m very happy about, as I feel a sequel really could try and do something special with this franchise.  It was a shame the film didn’t quite live up to its potential but it was still fun, and it was nice to see the Corps on the big screen.

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