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DCU Spotlight: Review 1: Green Lantern (2011)


Editor's Note: Green Lantern has been out for a week now and despite the critics not enjoying it, their are plenty of reasons to go see the film if you haven't already (or see it again). Comic fans in general have given the movie great reviews, including two of our very own. This is the first of two reviews for the film. Check out the site later today for the other.

 

Green Lantern PosterIt is good to see DC begin to venture out from the usual superheroes they’ve always marketed in the past, Batman and Superman, and stray into the unknown territory of the Green Lantern Corps, and the titular character of Hal Jordan. The only other known DC characters to garner a film or television series have been Wonder Woman, the popular Smallville (which I’ll admit I’ve enjoyed, minus the Clark/Lana plots), the Flash (for anyone who remembers it, it was incredibly short-lived though I remember there being 20 second TV spots for it when I was about six), Swamp Thing (with Heather Locklear, Schwing!), the best adaptation (the really long version on DVD with Black Freighter cut into it) of a DC comic Watchmen, Vertigo’s V for Vendetta which is a DC owned company, The Losers, Catwoman, Jonah Hex, Supergirl, and Steel (Shaq played Steel, and is surprisingly close to his origins).

 

But other than that, most of these aren’t really well recognized by the public. Most of us, Bat-boys and girls, probably have heard of them and maybe even have seen them all. But Batman and Superman are the only ones truly remembered. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised folks. Ryan Reynolds was not overboard with his usual humor, and in my opinion, characterizes Hal Jordan rather well. Ok, prepare yourselves because I have nothing but spoilers after this. So, you’ve been warned.

 

*****Spoiler! Warning!*****

 

It is incredible to think how many characters are actually contained within Jordan’s individual story and development, but many of them are in the film. Abin Sur (duh!), Carol Ferris (who’s call sign is Sapphire, appropriately and probably for teasing us with foreshadowing), Jim and Jack Jordan, Sinestro!, Tomar Re, Kilowog, the Guardians of the Universe, Hector Hammond, Tom Kalmaku, even Parallax (with some continuity changes, though it’s to be expected). The great thing about all of this, especially upon examining the plot of the film and the subplots, was that the great Geoff Johns himself was personally overseeing the continuity and scripting of the film. Upon seeing it, I could see a great deal of Secret Origins, a recent retcon and filling in of missing information about Hal’s origins.

 

One example, is that most of us remember from Emerald Dawn that Hal is whisked away by the ring’s energy while during a test flight, and before this it was in a simulation rig. Either way, both of these have been retconned by Secret Origins. Hal is whisked away in his flight suit while sitting in the wreckage of the plane his father died test piloting. The film changes this slightly, as he merely recounts this incident in flashback, and is taken from a Jordan family gathering. And he then has his destined encounter with a dying Abin Sur, who is aptly played by (and this surprised even me!) Temeura Morrison (Jango Fett!). His voice was so appropriate to the character, and the makeup (at least I think it was makeup) looked incredible. I was so worried how he would look and I was not disappointed. Which is another thing to point out. In Origins, Abin Sur is transporting Atrocitus, whereas in the film he’s not but is instead attacked by Parallax. Both the comic and the film have him send a message to Sinestro, though the film’s is short and sweet and having nothing to do with cosmic prophecy. Filmgoers simply do not have the attention span for such things in a film that throws so much information at you within the first thirty minutes.

 

Which is something else to discuss, briefly. The pacing of the film has been called into question by several people who saw it before me. I have no idea what the critics said about it, and probably won’t read their opinions anyway. There are few critics I agree with, aside from film reviewers and the like from newspapers. So I must answer this carefully. As a Green Lantern reader and a Corps series reader, I was incredibly skeptical going into my viewing. I had a somewhat packed theater. People laughed at appropriate times, as they always do, but I noticed that there was silence a great deal. You could tell no one was missing a thing. It is a bit overwhelming how much plot gets thrown at you. The director should definitely put out an extended cut, because you could easily add another twenty minutes to the story. But the pacing, was well done. Intermixed with Hector’s story, Hal’s story, and the plot the Corps is dealing with on Oa regarding Parallax as a cosmic threat, the film keeps you on your toes.

 

I must again applaud Ryan Reynolds. I was skeptical. Before hearing he had been cast as Hal, I knew that he was being considered as Wally West, for the Flash. This made sense to me. He has the runner’s physique, the quippy backtalk (better than his appearance as Wade Wilson in the Wolverine film which is so incredibly inaccurate to Logan’s story that I laughed at most of that film). But, alas, the Flash has not been decided upon just yet. Can’t wait though. Instead, we get Hal. Probably a good choice. The appeal to the audience, children and adult alike, of being able to wear this ring is that it makes us all wonder, do we each have the ability to overcome fear? This is where Ryan Reynolds accurately characterized Hal. Hal is insecure, cocky, (womanizing, at times), and brash. But unafraid? Not necessarily. He can overcome his fears though, as most of us GL readers know. And he doesn’t over do his usual humor. It is subtly done and this worried me the most going into this. Of course, this is Ryan’s third attempt at a comic book movie. He’s been Wade Wilson, and Hannibal King in Blade Trinity. And now, Hal Jordan.

 

My overall critique: Not bad. Not bad at all. But let me point out a few things I don’t like. First, Hector Hammond’s association and supposed past with Jordan and Carol is not really pointed out. It’s alluded to that they all know each other, but not sure how. Especially since, in the film, Hector is the son of a United States Senator. In Origins, he’s handsome, intelligent, a successful scientist, and is going out with Carol Ferris. In the film, he pines for her in his socially awkward way. An interesting performance from Peter Sarsgaard, to say the least, and well done, sir. Also, the retcon of Parallax now has him as a guardian that attempted to harness the yellow energy of fear. Definitely wrong. However, for both of these, I must consider how much information the writers were already throwing at you. Ringslinging, energy constructs, the Green Lantern Corps, the Guardians of the Universe, Hal’s backstory and introductions of the people in his life… So much.

 

I spoke with a fellow reader friend of mine and we agreed that all things considered, they don’t completely bog things down. In fact, as an origin movie, this covers a lot of ground. They even manage to throw the classic boxing glove construct in. I mean come on… they had to do it. It’s Hal’s signature construct. Other than that, this was pretty good.

 

Green Lantern (2011):

 

3.5 out of 5 Batarangs

 

Reviewed by Chris Gering

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