Ever since the birth of the comic book movie genre, there has been a phrase used a lot when talking about some certain movies within these pictures. This being, it’s just like a comic book on screen, this has been mentioned with certain films such as Sin City, Watchmen, 300 and even people such as Joel Schumacher when directing his Batman movies. However I think that in the purist sense of the sentence above, Green Lantern is a literal comic book on screen, from tone, characters to even the storytelling and pace. And I think therein lies the strength and weakness of Green Lantern.
The picture tells the story of, Hal Jordan, a reckless pilot who becomes a part of the Green Lantern corps, a peace keeping police force that aim to fight evil all over the galaxy. Can Hal prove himself as a Green Lantern and can Hal overcome fear in order to save Earth from an entity known as Parallax.
As mentioned in the first paragraph, to me personally Green Lantern felt like a comic book on screen and in turn this concept will be examined into what is right and wrong with the movie. As the film opens we get an explanation of the whole Green Lantern concept and this is a major strength of the movie, it is not afraid to embrace its comic book roots, with a sense of humor and flair while doing it.
The same can be said of the casting which is just great. Ryan Reynolds while often criticized for been the goof ball in the room in most of his performances, does a great job as Hal Jordan here. Truly feeling like he jumped of the page off a Geoff Johns comic book, Reynolds plays the role with a sense of coolness, arrogance and also deep routed doubt that is easily believable and relateable. I always felt that all of the earth bound Lantern presented in the comics that Jordan was the most relateable, particularly in his early stories before he got his ring. When have we not felt once in our that we have made a mess of our lives and Reynolds brings this to his performance and easily carries the movie on his shoulders. The only problem is sometimes the script lets him down in certain places, (more on this later)
Blake Lively was great as Carol Ferris, she has believable chemistry with her main co-star Reynolds and through just a look you can just everything straight away of how she feels about Hal, her job and everything. In addition you can believe that she has known Hal for years and cares for him deeply, as well see a lot in him as she plays the voice of reason as well as friend and his boss. Lively`s comic timing is very good too and by far she has the best comedic moment in the movie that is a great statement about identity in superhero comics and movies. I just wish we got to see Lively playing more of the boss character at Ferris Air and got to say her trademark phrase in the comics that I only date employees to Hal at the end.
Peter Sarsgaard plays Hector Hammond who I think along with the screenwriters created a far better version of the character then in the comics, who to me always seemed like a pesky villain that I never found compelling but merely bothersome- (Applying to both his silver age and modern incarnations) Sarsgaard, despite needing a little more development from the screenplay, creates a great villain that straddles the line of campy and downright sinister, more successful in the latter, I say. I saw where he was coming from and could see how the corruption of fear took over him and making him lash out against everyone from his father to Hal and even Carol. He has some great moments and he generally creeped me out aside from an astounding make up job his acting was also responsible for that too, overall great performance.
But the one actor who absolutely steals the show is Mark Strong as Sinestro who not since Jackie Earl Haley as Rorschach has a character ever felt like they jumped of the comic book page and landed on the screen. For all his time in the film, Strong gets all the good things that made Sinestro great in the comics, his arrogance, his ruthlessness and attitude towards humans. You absolutely believe that he is the greatest of all the Green Lanterns, I just had a problem with the ultimate fate of his character which felt a little out of character given how he behaved in his last scene with Hal. And I wish at sometime just go one step further, he would have referred to Hal during the movie by his surname of Jordan-like in the comics.
The movie flows like a comic book in the sense of pace where it is very fast and leaves you to fill in the gaps. This results in some very nice sequences which really give the movie an interesting play on the movie’s theme; which is how different people deal with fear, and it has shaped their lives, this is in reference to both Hector and Hal. These are particularly seen in the sequences when for first time we realize how their destinies will change after respective events have occurred, if one to just add in panels to these scenes it would be a pure comic book on screen and some of these scenes really show of the best of medium from which is adapting from. The movie walks a fine line between being a very modern Green Lantern comic from the last five years or so and also a hint of silver age, especially as far as the humor was concerned, which is refreshing to see a comic book movie that is not afraid to poke fun at itself and yet become serious when it needs to be, which is does very well. The visuals are also astounding, from the look of Abin Sur to the planet of Oa, the look of Green Lantern jumped from page to screen in an astounding manner that delighted me from beginning to end. There are some changes from the comic but the movie does a nice job of introducing the mythology to audiences.
However as mentioned there are problems. The problem with this movie applying a very comic book way of telling its story is that, while mostly is good, sometimes it really does fall down flat on its face. The main weakness of the film lies in the script, maybe it was the case of too many writers, or studio hands getting their way, but this was a glaring weakness. The best way describe the screenplay is this way, the basic skeleton was there, but more flesh was required on the bones, these being they had good set-ups for ideas, be it for the story or characters, but more was required I thought. Case in point, I wish a little more time was devoted to Hal before he became a Lantern. The comic this movie was primarily based on is called “Secret Origin” and in that we get a great sense of Hal`s character before he gets chosen, we see him as lowest and therefore his journey is more believable. Whereas in the movie it was one event we saw him screw up and then we get the reaction from everyone that he is a failure, but if got to see more it would have made for a better character piece. Also while I loved this take on Hammond, I wish more was done with him and again with Hal he needed more before he became what he did, like flashback to childhood and other things, as it is in the movie things are hinted at and the relationship between him, Hal and Carol needed more fleshing out. Also as a fan I would have liked more with Abin Sur and Sinestro, I got the sense from the latter character of his relationship to Abin but I wish more was explored from the other point of view. Case in point there is a scene between Abin and Sinestro at the beginning and it’s barely a few seconds and feels a tiny bit pointless, I wish more conversation took place to get a better sense of Abin and how he feels towards Sinestro. The movie as a whole feels like it has great moments, but some of the key ones are not given time to breath and come and go, while this is fine for comic book story telling where you have month upon month of building on these moments, for a movie it falls flat because you require a concise amount of storytelling in two hours. And I just think the screenplay needed a polish or two to really work on the elements I have mentioned, as well as the movie needing to be at least twenty minutes longer.
Overall Green Lantern is a flawed but decent first entry for a DC hero outside of Batman and Superman. This is due to some great performances, a balanced tone, awesome action and respect to the source material, I just hope it makes enough money to warrant a better sequel where the problems of this movie are sorted. Maybe a single vision from a writer/director for the sequel will go a long way- Duncan Jones would be my personal choice. The groundwork and mythology has been established and I personally think there is a near about brightest day for this movie franchise to flourish, if given the chance.
Green Lantern (2011):
Reviewed by Sartaj Singh from Scarecrow756's Movie Shrine