Disclaimer: First and foremost, I am a Green Lantern fangirl. I shall give my best impression of an objective film critic type. Now, shall we?
Let’s start off with a roll call.
Behind Hal’s sarcastic, white-bread machismo exists a human determined to get the job done; hence, our willful leading man. Insert Ryan Reynolds. I know many of you were rolling your eyes when he was cast as Hal Jordan, but I was not. I think he fits the character (and that suit) like a glove. His voice, movement, and shit smirk are all kinds of perfect. Reynolds also has decent acting chops. He can do sensitive bear masked in hotshot. I only wish he had the dialogue to display that. Skimpy writing aside, Reynolds is charming and funny as Hal Jordan. Funny goes far. Grade B+
I was much more skeptical about Blake Lively as Carol Ferris. At first, Lively comes off as a bit immature, but eventually works her way into a more believable Carol. She gives life to her pencil skirt, not the other way around. She shows us a competent, quick-on-the-draw character who is in love, but not defined by it. Lively gets extra points for minimizing the distress, and maximizing sharpness whilst being the one to save Hal. Grade B+
Taika Waititi is the jaunty counterpart to Reynolds’ Hal, and they have solid comedic chemistry. His screen time is short, but this guy is a riot. Grade A
I have never read a comic with Hector Hammond as the villain, so I am more critic than fangirl here. If repulsive is what they were going for, they succeeded with Hammond as infected by Parallax. Sarsgaard’s performance was fine enough, but the insecure, socially inadequate shy guy with an axe to grind against the popular people is … stale. Grade C
The Wall is in the movie! This pleases me. It is an interesting take on the character, and Angela Basset’s cool demeanor is spot on. Grade B
Sinestro is probably one of the most festive villains in the DCU. His well-mannered fascism makes for bloody good comic book banter. Mark Strong is brilliant as the magenta turncoat. The passionate dominance and the budding light of extremism are executed without flaw. Strong is Sinestro, giving the possible sequel a lot of potential. Grade A
The origin and overall concept of Parallax fits quite nicely into the context of the film, and demonstrates what smug bastards the Guardians are. But, I thought the visual rendering was utterly ridiculous, particularly towards the end. Grade D
Kilowog is awesome. That is all. POOZERS. Grade A+
Green Lantern Corps
I have thought many times while reading the comic, particularly Green Lantern Corps, how flipping visually schizophrenic all the different alien species are. That alone incited a lot of curiosity for the film. I was not disappointed. My heart leapt with joy at seeing all of the Lanterns. They are fantastically rendered in the movie. For the comic fan, it is just SUPER cool. Grade A
Now, on to the review …
One of the most apt descriptions of the DC Universe I’ve ever read comes from the blog Desperate Worlds.
The DCU is a convoluted, beautiful mess of color, ink, and pulp; of cities and worlds, heroes and villains whose names and symbols exist as icons of culture and art.
Isn’t it, though?
The Green Lantern movie made me think of that quote. It is a vivid and unlikely story that spans the universe, and requires the kind of suspension of disbelief that the comic fan has had plenty of practice with. The Grant Morrisons and J.H. Williamses bend our minds to infinitum, and we love it. Between the bright green and the utter impossibility of 3,600 aliens with will-powered rings policing the universe, how much more sensational can you get?
Not much. It is such a good time. From start to finish, my eyes were wide, I was thrilled to see these characters come to life, and my squeals of delight amused all who were sitting near me.
Green Lantern is a straightforward, super-hero origin story. The plot is simple. The bells and whistles are, of course, in the visual design. As awesome as I think that is, a race car or Gatling gun energy construct can be outlandish, even in the pages of a comic book. I see the moments where a fangirl like me is doing imaginary cartwheels, while other critics might be rolling their eyes from the perceived campiness. This is where the medium’s limitations begin to show when bringing a comic book film like Green Lantern, from the fanciful DCU, to the big screen.
Sure, the Batman is of DC origin, but Bruce Wayne’s genius and dark, depressing coming of age story may be somehow more relatable. With Magneto, whose past is tied to the Holocaust, his pain resonates in our consciousness. While the brilliant Tony Stark designs his robotic suit for the greater good, his reputation in weapons manufacturing is relevant to today’s war-torn world. The meat of those critically successful stories is grounded in something more tangible than a Lantern ring. Somewhere in our psyche, there are pieces of these characters that can find a home; thus, it is not a particularly far leap for the mind.
If the complexity of character and real world despair reign superior, how does the space fantasy of this film connect with the audience? I think it is in the simplistic nature of Hal Jordan. I say that plain determination is something to revere. Maybe this notion is so thoroughly ingrained in modern culture that we forget Jordan sprang from the Silver Age. In this simple character, the fantasy of the film is grounded.
During the course of the story, Hal struggles with the idea that a Green Lantern has to be innately fearless, and a rather condescending Sinestro reinforces this notion. We see moments where this debilitates our hero. Then, in a vulnerable moment shared with Carol and best friend Thomas Kalmaku, Hal admits that he is afraid. Through the very act of speaking his truth and being honest with his emotion, he is empowered. An intuitive Carol reminds him that it is his ability to overcome the fear that defines him. This act of emotional honesty turns Hal into our willful hero.
The movie also displays a seamless give and take between the comics medium and film. Hal’s emotional landscape is familiar to Green Lantern comic readers, as emotion is the basis for much of Lantern lore. But that kind of emotion on the part of the leading man is not often displayed in an action movie. On the other side of that coin, Green Lantern’s fantastic visuals may be a stretch in live-action, but the actors achieved what the comic does not. For once, Carol’s love of Hal proved to be something powerful, and not a hindrance to her. Well done.
Watching that Green flash of light streaking through the sky on screen filled me with hope that the gold of Diana, or maybe the black of Dinah, will soon follow. While it is clearly more probable that the yellow of Sinestro will see the silver screen first, it could ALL come alive by Hollywood’s imperfect hand … eventually.
That is what we wanted, isn’t it?
P.S. I’m high-fiving Geoff Johns when I see him.