Movie Review: “The Green Lantern”

Not horrible. I give it 3 Lanterns out of 5 Open-mouthed smile

green_lantern_nThe Question: Is this comic book-derived movie worth seeing?

The Answer: You bet.

Yes, I know. Ryan Reynolds is Hal Jordan/Green Lantern, and people don’t think Ryan could pull off a comic book action movie. And, what about him being Deadpool, anyway? Or, a Vampire Hunter (from Blade:Trinity.) You’re just going to have to set those biases aside. Otherwise, you’ll never enjoy the show. I went into the movie thinking this was going to be the Queer Eye for the Green Lantern Guy, or something, because of all the media hype about the digital suit “painted” on Ryan Reynolds, and all that it would reveal. In other words, I expected to feel ripped-off, ashamed, embarrassed, lying that I hadn’t seen the movie, yet trying to find ways of explaining how I know so much about I movie I said I’ve never seen. Ryan does a good job as Hal. In fact, had this movie been made in the ’80s, I’m pretty sure Val Kilmer would have played the smart-assed, wise-cracking Hal Jordan. Why? Because Hal Jordan and Tom “Iceman” Kazansky are cut from the same cloth, that’s why. 

However, one must not forget Blake Lively plays Carol Ferris, Ryan’s …er, girlfriend? Love interest? Wing..girl? She wears a lot of suits in the movie, and admirably well, I have to say. I can see why Hal would want to protect planet Earth.

Peter Sarsgaard plays Hector Hammonds, the meek, anti-social but highly intelligent son of Senator Hammonds, played well by Tim Robbins. Peter is a good performer, but I simply don’t like him, and I’m glad he (Hector) is rendered dead eventually. Peter seems to be constantly typecast as a smarmy back-stabbing spineless wimp in most everything I’ve seen him in, and Green Lantern is no different. When Hector gets his just dessert, I was like, Yeah, take that, Peter Sarsgaard. Stop taking parts that turn you into a sniveling wimp.

The Suit. A lot of talk about the suit. The suit is cool. In the comics, one does not get a sense of the energy contained inside the suit. The SFX in Green Lantern really bring the suit to life. Initially, in the theatrical trailers, I thought the suit looked stupid. The suit looks good, with waves of energy rippling behind the Lantern.

See, the Green Lanterns derive their power, their energy, from Will. Not the “Danger! Will Robinson! Danger!” Will, but from the Will people have to do something, or to not do something, as in “willpower.” Will has a color, and that color is green. Hence, the Green Lantern. Fear is yellow. Avarice is orange. Compassion is indigo. In our first Green Lantern movie, we get to see Fear/Yellow at work. And, if the credit teaser holds, Yellow will give rise to the Sinestro Corp in the next movie.

I read only one review of the movie before viewing. Someone writing about how “comic book movies constantly perpetuate racial stereotypes,” and how, “Green Lantern” is racist. The author referred to the use of Michael Clark Duncan’s voice cast as “Kilowog.” Look, Kilowog is a big nasty killer, but a good-guy big nasty killer. Kilowog needs a big powerful voice. Now, I ask you, Who in Hollywood has a big distinctive voice capable of producing the weight and presence needed to portray Kilowog? A handful; maybe Ving Rhames, but then again, someone could still cry “racism,” or perhaps Vin Diesel. I just can’t think of anyone, other than those three. And, Kilowog was not a complete racial stereotype like Jar-Jar Binks, who the author specifically mentioned. “Jar-Jar” is racist, and I, and every other Star Wars fan know that Lucas will suffer time in Hell for that character. Anyway, I digress.

Mark Strong handled the role of Sinestro well. If you stay around to the near-end credits, you’ll see Sinestro again. Far better end-teaser than Iron Man 2, or Thor. 

Fans of Clancy Brown will be pleased to hear him voice Parallax. Parallax was once an Immortal Guardian of the Green Lantern home world of Oa. After falling victim to the Power of Fear, the fear-casting mind-controlling Parallax was defeated by Hal’s previous ring-bearer, Abin Sur, and entombed. Our plot picks up as a chance accident strands aliens on the planetoid that serves as Parallax’s prison. The aliens are swiftly converted to the energy Parallax needs to escape and plot his revenge on Oa. Abin Sur does his best to prevent Parallax from making progress towards that goal, and suffers a mortal wound in the process.

I’m giving nothing away, as Hal comes about the Green Lantern ring in this way. Also, our narrator, Tomar-Re, voiced by Geoffrey Rush, describes the unfolding action while providing some necessary backstory in the first 5 minutes of the movie. I recognized his voice, but couldn’t place it at first. I’m glad, too; I would have spent the rest of the movie in Barbossa-mode, “Argh, the Green Lanterns dispatch their foes with the might of their boundless spirit and willingness to engage in such brigandry,” and then all hope of enjoying the movie would have been sunk.

The Green Lantern wasn’t mindless droll. The director Martin Campbell, along with good writing, developed good characters, with emotions, and responses that seemed appropriate. Much time was spent developing Hal’s character, his relationship with his father, Hal’s family. We glimpse Hal through their eyes, though briefly, and more so through Carol’s eyes.

The Green Lantern is PG-13 for good reason, really. A lab tech gets a hypodermic needle in the eye. Needles to the eye always make me cringe. Another guy gets fried to a crisp. “Asshole,” is a term that’s frequently tossed about to describe Hal. I’m glad, for a change, too. After seeing Thor turned into a mallet-wielding Ken-doll, I needed to hear some comic book swearing and see someone get a beat-down.

Green Lantern purists will cry that the producers got some aspect of Hal’s origin story wrong. So be it. The movie is still better than Thor, better than the first Hulk, better than Daredevil – and potentially be better than Captain America. I’m hoping not, though. That would truly be sad.

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