G3 Review: Green Lantern

“The bigger you are, the faster you burn.”

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.

Hal Jordan
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+

Carol Ferris
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+

Thomas Kalmaku
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

Hector Hammond
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

Amanda Waller
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
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

Parallax
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
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.

SPOILER ALERT
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.

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22 thoughts on “G3 Review: Green Lantern

  1. (Can’t get the damn ‘like’ button to work)

    Thanks for an enjoyable review, your enthusiasm really comes through and gives me hope. I’ve seen countless contradictory posts and reviews, even among GL fans, so I guess I’ll have to make my own mind up – still, you make me think I’ll definitely find SOMETHING to like, even if it’s not my ideal for a GL pic. The image of numerous green-auraed aliens swooping through the void sounds promising! (is ‘auraed’ a word? Oh, well…) Thanks again!

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  2. It’s nice to see they finally cast Angela Basset in a comicbook film. If only they’d wised up years ago, and cast her as Storm like they should have.

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  3. Well written V. Like Mark, I’ve seen reviews for this movie fall all over the board in opinion and in reasons for said opinions. This is the first review of the movie I’ve read that was a good constructive criticism of the movie, and extremely well thought out. I’ll reserve my opinions until I’ve seen the film, but you’ve definitely moved this film from the ranks of “rental” to make me consider throwing down for a ticket or two. Thank you.

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    • I understand. I wanted more of them, too! Mark Strong is EXCELLENT as Sinestro. And well Kilowog … is the awesome that is Kilowog. Here’s to hoping for a sequel with way more alien action!

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  4. Thanks ever so much for your review Vanessa! It was really well rounded and fair!
    Stellar job! : )
    I like that you approached it from a comic book lovers view and a lay person’s view! : )

    Fabu job!

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  5. I think they should have saved the Hammond character.He doesn’t bring nothing to the film.And his crush on Carol didn’t make sense.Tha kind of storyline is too used.Maybe it’s me,but the romance is usually the weakest part of a super-heroe film.
    They should have focused in the space story.Maybe with another enemy (the Manhunters,maybe?),instead of that not convincing version of Parallax.I think that movie,like Thor,concentrates to much about the problems of the hero on Earth,and not enough about his time with his partners warriors.And why the hell don’t they fight along against Parallax?
    Well,in the end is an entertaining movie,but,as always,I miss a further connection with the comic-books.I hope the Superman film solve this,but I doubt.

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    • Hammond’s thing for Carol is from the comics, at least recent work… I don’t recall it from the Silver Age. I’m guessing the film tries to keep one foot on Earth so folks have something to relate to. Don’t want to scare newcomers off with too much space opera in the first movie!

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      • I know it is from the comics,but not that way.The Hammond from comics is not a nerd.I almost expected they say Carol was a cheerleader and Hal a quaterback.I hate want they put topics taken from mainstream stories in a superheroe film.They should be faithful to the original.As in Smallville final,it was too much talking,romanticism and the battle only last a few minutes.And I still think the space opera could have been better done.It is the different point of each hero what should be central of the story.Mithology in Thor and science-fiction in Green Lantern.Enough pretending all heroes can be reduced to the same plot.

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  6. “objective film critic type” my ass. :P

    You can’t just divorce yourself from what you love. That’s like saying you can keep yourself from dreaming you can magically transform into Wonder Woman with a few quick spins. I’m not buying it. -pats you on the back- Nice try, you aren’t fooling anyone. Just admit, you fully endorse this movie. Aside from being Kyle Raynor seriously trying to play Hal Jordan, it is a fine movie. I blame it on Ryan being a fanboy himself and struggling to stay relevant while his Deadpool movie gets greenlit. The upswing that “First Class”, Thor, and most certainly Cap provides to Marvel Studios and the spin he has on GL will practically ensure it. WADE for President in ’14!

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      • I see what you meant by over the top near the end. If we pulled all the ‘hero’ movies together… then the world would be pock-marked with giant craters and society would descend into chaos. Additionally, there is a vast ‘glazing over’ of how many people die in all of these. *semi-spoiler* The first interaction of GL with the public seems to have at least 20 dead but it gets the ‘heroic glaze’ painted on it.

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  7. I’m also a Green Lantern fanboy and I can say the movie isn’ so bad as I feared : it’s not the movie of the year, maybe the scenario could have been better (with 20 minutes longer) but it’s a nice movie.

    The best scene is on Oa when we see the Green Lantern Corps (I’ve succeed to see Salaak ^^) and Sinestro and Kilowog are amazing !

    PS : I’ve always thought a space sector covered at least one galaxy but when I saw how many galaxies are included in sector 2813 (Tomar-Re), I said “wooooow !” ^^

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      • That makes me think, in the comics, we often see Hal intervene on Earth but little in his space sector. Too bad, it could have given interesting scenes :

        – Superman : Hal, Dr Light, the Joker and other super-villains make havoc on Gotham ! Come with us ?
        – Hal Jordan : Sorry Kal but there is an emergency : an interplanetary war near of Antares. Have fun !
        – Superman : …
        – Black Canary : …
        – Batman : …
        – Flash : …

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