An incredible force cuts a path through the universe, and the first human Green Lantern must prove himself.
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Mark Strong, Peter Saarsgard, Temuera Morrison, Tim Robbins, Angela Basset, Taika Waititi, Geoffrey Rusch, Michael Clarke Duncan Screenplay: Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Mark Guggenheim, Michael Goldenberg Director: Martin Campbell Producers: Greg Berlanti, Donald De Line, Geoff Johns Presented by: Warner Bros. Release Date: June 17, 2011
I am, as you probably know, a huge fan of the entire Green Lantern mythos. I've been waiting my whole life for a GL movie to come into the theaters and knock me off my feet. What I got instead was a movie that has promise, is worth watching, but feels like it missed some opportunities.
Parallax, a powerful entity with an axe to grind with the Guardians of the Universe, has broken free from its prison and attacked the Green Lantern who captured it – Abin Sur (Temura Morrison.) When Abin is mortally wounded, he flees to the nearest inhabited planet, Earth, and sends forth his ring to find one who is worthy of joining the storied Green Lantern Corps. What he finds is Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), a test pilot whose arrogance threatens Ferris Air and whose fear threatens to cripple him.
Let's go through the good first. The movie was cast very well. Reynolds pulls off a version of Hal Jordan that feels very genuine – cocky, but still a good, solid guy using his arrogance to hide a deep-seated insecurity. There's a good arc for the character that suits the property well. Blake Lively, playing Carol Ferris, is surprisingly good. She's got a real strength to her – she's not simply a love interest, not simply a damsel in distress. She's tough, she's smart, and she doesn't let Hal get away with any crap. (One of the best scenes in the movie, in fact, comes the first time she talks to “Green Lantern” instead of Hal Jordan.) Mark Strong's Sinestro is good – a devoted warrior, but one that you can feel has a dark edge to him that his brothers may not possess. From an acting standpoint, the weak links were Tim Robbins, playing a stereotypical “evil politician,” and Peter Saarsgard, whose Hector Hammond was pretty in-character, but played a bit too silly.
The story isn't bad – I don't mind seeing Hal's origin tied in to Parallax, but it does feel a bit odd for him to be the main villain in this first film. Whether there is any intention to return to him or not, I've no idea, but it seems like more could be done. Some scenes felt a little quick, as though they were cut too much and lost a little necessary characterization in the process.
This, in fact, leads me to what I think was probably the main weakness in the film – the direction. Martin Campbell has made two great Zorro movies, two great James Bond movies... but he really seems to have been the wrong choice for Green Lantern. He zooms right past moments ripe for characterization, and when he slows down and lets up play with the characters, the tone is often too light for the situation. He's taking modern material and trying to make what people who haven't read comics in 30 years would think of as a “comic book movie.”
So while I liked it, there's definite room for improvement if we get a sequel. The producers keep talking about wanting to make this franchise like a superhero equivalent of Star Wars. That's great, that's what it should be. And y'know what Star Wars had a lot of that this didn't? Stuff in outer space. The vast majority of the film takes place on Earth, which is a shame, because it's the outer space stuff that really rocks. The scenes on Oa were beautiful, the space battles were exciting, but too few. I wanted more Tomar-Re, more Kilowog, more Sinestro. They made it a point to remind us that there are 3600 Green Lanterns – why did we only get to know four of them? We need to feel for all of those Lanterns, even the ones on the fringe, and it's in this direction that the franchise has the potential to grow and soar.
I did like this movie, and I do intend to see it again. I just hope that the next time we see these characters, the epic scale of the characters comes across on the screen.