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Green Lantern: The Movie

Brian Hibbs

I had to wait a little while to see Green Lantern because of scheduling issues with Ben — he’s in a crazy amount of camps, with enrichment afterwards (soccer, swimming, etc), and then weekends with his grandparents that Wednesday was the first chance we had to go together. And what’s the point of seeing a superhero movie if you’re not taking your seven year old?

 

Before we get to my reaction, let’s have his: Ben thought the movie was great. “Oh?” I asked, “what would you rate it on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best?” A Ten.

 

Now, one thing to bear in mind is that Ben isn’t exactly a sophisticated movie watcher — he loves ALL movies, and when I asked him what the WORST movie he ever saw was, he said the latest Pirates of the Caribbean film, that he really didn’t like that one. “Yeah? And what would you rate that one?” A Seven.

 

So there you go.

 

One thing that I would like to note, and actually condemn the movie for, is some unnecessary use of language. I recognize that the film was rated PG-13, but there’s a “Bullshit” and an “asshole” in here, both of which were entirely and completely unnecessary, and caused Ben to turn to me in the theater with a scandalized hand to his mouth. I don’t care about the “damn”s and the “hell”s (though sure some people might), but there’s really no need for that kind of adult language in a movie pretty much custom designed for kids. Just sayin’.

 

OK, now to me.

 

The critics have not at all been kind to this film, and for some pretty good reasons — it’s pretty much a hot mess. But I’m sorta glad I read so many massively negative reviews before going because I had negative expectations walking in, and, so, it wasn’t quite as bad as I feared it would be.

 

The movie does have two Major problems. First: there’s just not a lot of real human emotional core to the film. Oh, it tries to build in a whole bunch of strands with Hal’s family/daddy issues, or the triangle between Hal/Carol/Hector, but there’s so little screen time given to them, and in such a desultory way, that none of it really goes anywhere or means anything. Large bits of it (like the triangle) aren’t even mentioned for the first time until well into the film, stripping it away of any power it might have had. It’s a shame, because there actually was a possibility of having something interesting come out of all three human character’s relationships to their fathers, and how they each dealt with it, but it really amounts to no more than background noise here. Likewise all of the talk about facing fear was just a lot of blahblahblah that never tested out in any kind of meaningful way — Hal never actually faces any kind of fear other then a semi-generic “Parallax is kinda scary looking, ain’t he?”.

 

Look, no one expects a summer popcorn action flick to give deep insights into humanity, but it seems a shame to me to have these thematic elements sorta put upon the table, and then do fuck-all with them.

 

The other Major problem with the film is that it’s packed with two movies worth of story, and it therefore does almost nothing good with either of them. It is easy for me to armchair quarterback, but I don’t see how anyone thought it was a good idea to try and have GL’s origin, Hector Hammond, the Corps, AND Parallax all jammed into a single movie and expect it be compelling.

 

I’d like to point out that in the comics, Hal never met the Guardians until his eighth story (and then they made him forget!), and we don’t meet a single member of the Corps (other than Abin Sur) until GL #6 — I certainly wouldn’t have taken Hal to Oa in the first movie. I think it would have been much stronger to stay Earthbound and to not have even a whiff of the Corps until maybe the last few seconds of the film.

 

There’s a lot of Telling in this movie, rather than showing — there’s a throw away line about being a space-cop, but there’s not even a second of “policing” shown by anyone, for example. There’s also a lot of screen time frittered away on things without a payoff — we’re introduced to Hal’s family, and there’s a clear setup for something with his nephew, and then you never ever see those characters again; we’re shown the entire Secret Origin of Amanda Waller (though one who is physically nothing like The Wall, nor who is indicated to be anything other than a scientist), but why? She, too, then disappears from the film. I hope, at least, that John Ostrander is getting a hella big check.

 

It’s a real shame, because there’s a few minutes of real visual creativity and wonder — I really loved the sequence with the out-of-control helicopter and the racetrack — and if more of the movie had been about the Cocky Fighter Pilot Learning To Use His Magic Wishing Ring To Fight Crime, then I think it would have had more of the Sense Of Wonder that superhero movies really kind of need.

 

I thought Ryan Reynolds was adequate in the role. My largest problem is that my Hal Jordan is cocky and arrogant, but he isn’t Sarcastic. I also really didn’t like the CGI costume, but, eh, I’m a bitter old man and who thought I would?

 

I also kind of can’t believe what happened to both of the antagonists. Way to build a rogues gallery!

 

There’s an extra scene in the middle of the credits. It is very very bad. It makes no sense whatsoever after seeing the backwards Earth Man single-handedly defeat the Big Bad that that character, of all the characters shown in the film, would take that action.

 

One last note: the music was terrible. I actually started dreading anytime the musical cues came on because it was so horrible, almost 1980s hair bands, and really inappropriate to the action. It’s rare that I actually notice scoring, but this time I did because it was awful.

 

So, yeah, not a good movie at all, and if I were an adult seeing it with another adult (and paying ELEVEN DOLLARS to get in? Are they INSANE? Is that what movies actually cost? This is the first non-matinee priced movie I’ve been to in a long time at a mainstream theater), then, yeah, AWFUL movie… but I saw it with a seven year old and he had a blast (except for the unneeded swearing) and I had fun watching it with him, and, yeah if you approach it as “one and only shot to cram in 50 years of GL” then the structure of it works a little better, and, alright, charitable Dad-based me says it was a low OK.

 

My advice: take a seven year old boy with you (except for the swearing, those fuckers!)

 

Dunno, what did YOU think?

 

-B

17 Responses to “ Green Lantern: The Movie ”

  1. “It makes no sense whatsoever after seeing the backwards Earth Man single-handedly defeat the Big Bad that that character, of all the characters shown in the film, would take that action.”

    I thought it made perfect sense. He watches the rookie Earthman, a supposedly inferior Green Lantern, do what he and his four hand-picked friends couldn’t do. So, naturally he assumes the problem is that he doesn’t have enough power. So, he taps the other source. That’s how guys like that think.

  2. “…there’s a throw away line about being a space-cop, but there’s not even a second of “policing” shown by anyone, for example.”

    “…time frittered away on things without a payoff…”

    “…we’re introduced to Hal’s family, and there’s a clear setup for something with his nephew, and then you never ever see those characters again…”

    “…a few minutes of real visual creativity and wonder…”

    Which is pretty much exact description of Geoff Johns’ entire run on Green Lantern. You did it, DC!

  3. I wrote a review of GREEN LANTERN for imdb.com and called it a checklist movie. It was painfully obvious that before a single word of the screenplay was written, a bunch of people sat around and decided that the movie just had to include a whole bunch of individual items. What’s worse, the list was clearly put together in reverse chronological order with all the stuff from the Geoff Johns revival of GL at the top, then some stuff from the 90s and then some stuff from the 80s. By that time, there was barely any room for a workable plot or coherent story.

    I mean, think about it. If they’d made a GL movie 10 years ago, what would it have been about? Hal getting the ring, getting trained by Sinestro, discovering he’s evil and the a big fight between them at the end. Maybe Kilowog and Carol would be included but no Hector Hammond, no Parallax and certainly no tortured logic about how a freakin’ test pilot is really consumed by fear.

    Mike

  4. Jim: But it is a power source that was just PROVEN to be WEAKER than Green Will Power — why would he covet something weaker?

    -B

  5. “First: there’s just not a lot of real human emotional core to the film.”

    How faithful to the source material.

  6. Hah, that’s EXACTLY what I did, take my 7-year-old son, and it was definitely the way to go. While it was a flawed movie, it was really improved by the wide-eyed 7-year-old with me who wasn’t old enough to be as cynical as me and really loved it, so in a way that kinda made me like it more too.

  7. You’ve got a character who’s powered by fear and he never does anything to make anyone scared? He just shows up and eats your fear bones (your fear has a skeleton).
    Hector has the power to read minds and learn people’s greatest fears. Amanda watched her father’s murder and Hector uses that info to… ignore that info and throw her into some glass bug on a windshield style. He learns Green Lantern has dad issues and uses that to… make an image of his father saying he’s disappointed in his son? Nope, nothing.
    It really seemed when the schoolbus was in danger later in the film we’d see the return of the nephew they spent a whole scene setting up earlier. Nope.
    Oh and why do you actually need the sun when Kilawog (in his 30 seconds of training Hal that he seemed very proud about at the end) showed him the ring can make a fake one?
    Carol starts as a bad ass and ends as a 60s era Lois Lane. When you set up her saying that she might be a pilot again one day maybe have her back in a plane later in the film. Maybe shooting at the monster.
    Speaking of shooting, Hal throws hot glass at Hector? The Hell?
    Good actors, well shot, terribly written with very little in the first half of the film paid off in the second. “Hello I’m a fish headed alien that has his own poster. I’ll be here for about 30 seconds of the film. I’m played by an Oscar winning actor. I bet I’ll look great in the trailer. Okay goodbye!”

  8. I’m not going to see it, but I do hope it does well enough that they make a sequel with Danny McBride as Guy Gardner.

  9. Not out till sometime in August here.

    Pretty sure as seven year olds we could have given your average Green Lantern lessons in swearing, though. ;-)

  10. Totally agree. I was actually starting to think I was too hard on the film, but reading your review brought it all back. ANd the post-credits scene was indeed ridiculous; if there is a sequel they will have to ignore it or else lose out on establishing any kind of motivation for the hero’s arch nemesis.

    I also kind of like the idea of leaving Hal on Earth the whole movie, with no corps until the end. The only problem with that is, how would Hal (and the average viewer) find out what the heck the ring is, what it is used for, how it’s used, etc?

  11. I’m glad you brought up the language problem. I still haven’t seen the movie yet because a friend of mine told me about the cursing and the hand gesture. And, of course, my wife then forbade me from taking our 8 & 4 year old kids to see it. Come on, Warner Bros. Get your act together!

  12. To those who took young children: How did they handle all the body horror stuff? This is a pretty squicky movie.

  13. I liked the part where GL ring-punched the space monster into the sun.

  14. Brian wrote:
    “…we’re introduced to Hal’s family, and there’s a clear setup for something with his nephew…”

    AIR WAVE?!

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