Green Lantern Review: How to Make a Terrible Movie
Warning: The following review may contain spoilers, as well as a lot of angry ranting.
Despite growing up with comic books, I was never really a fan of the Green Lantern series. It just wasn't my thing. But I get the appeal of it, I get that Green Lantern is one of the most well-known comic book heroes of all time, with one of the biggest and most elaborate histories of any superhero. I recognize that like his Gotham City counterpart Batman, Green Lantern deals with many complex issues involving willpower, fear, hatred, anger, and many more emotions.
And whether you're a fan of this particular character or not, to see such an icon of comic book history dumbed down to an over-produced, over-budget, CGI-fest actually makes me angry.
Green Lantern, starring Ryan Reynolds in the title role - better known as Hal Jordan to most humans - has its moment. There are some decent action sequences in the film, and the writers even make several attempts to explore the complex themes of the source material when they discuss willpower and how it feeds the Lanterns, as well as fear and how it feeds their enemy, Parallex. But every time the film takes one step forward in terms of action, acting, or plot, it tends to take three, four, ten steps back.
When the film discusses its theme of fear, how all the Lanterns have to feel it despite the smokescreens they put up, they ruin it by cutting to scene where Parallax sucks a ridiculous "fear skeleton out of random people. When you finally get to see Jordan do some cool moves with his new suit, they ruin it by having him fire a CGI machine gun and create a race track to elaborately move a falling helicopter to safety.
Moreover, the talents of people like Geoffrey Rush (Tomar-Re, who Rush claims he only decided to play because he played a fish in Finding Nemo and a bird in Legend of the Guardians, so the obvious next choice is to play a half-bird in another terrible movie) and Michael Clarke Duncan (Kilowog) are wasted in the acting department, with only minor voice work in the film. Mark Strong (Sinestro), Peter Sarsgaard (Hector Hammond) and Tim Robbins (Senator Robert Hammond) are also nearly completely wasted in the film with minor, mostly irrelevant roles. The fact that this film has the talent of two Oscar winning actors, a third that's been nominated, and two of the more underrated actors in Hollywood in Sarsgaard and Strong, and still manages to completely drop the ball in the acting department is mind boggling. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that only one of them actually has any screen time with their actual faces, while the rest are reduced to wearing ridiculous amounts of prosthetics or CGI voice work.
Of course, the two people that you actually do get to see in the film are, of course, the beautiful people, Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively. Both are essentially wasted space, so there's really no reason to even bother complaining much about them. Reynolds is a decent actor, but his problem is that every time he actually starts showing some chops, he has to resort back to either Van Wilder tactics to try and be funny, or the one ridiculous serious face he has that I'm sure you've seen in every promotion photo for the film, including two of the pictures in this review. Why so serious, Ryan? And Blake Lively? Just the next in a long line of planks of wood that Hollywood tries to force down our throats.
The plot and the writing in the film is just as terrible as the acting and dialogue. Hal Jordan is a pilot who doesn't take his job seriously, but oh wait, he was traumatized as a child by the death of his father in a flying accident, but of course that doesn't stop him from becoming a fighter pilot for the air force himself, because, you know, that makes sense after you've seen your father explode. Jordan is, of course, human, as we see him visit his nephew's birthday part for two seconds. Got all these plot points? Now forget them, because they bear absolutely no relevance to the rest of the film.
Despite being an asshole, an idiot and an all-around screw-up, the dying Abin Sur's ring chooses him to be the next Green Lantern. The rest of the Green Lanterns aren't too happy with that because, well, he sucks, and gets owned in training sessions with Kilowog and Sinestro and then rage quits his new job, something no one seems to concerned about.
Back on Earth, Peter Sarsgaard (Hector Hammond) goes from being ugly to being even more ugly when he dissects the body of Abin Sur only to be possessed by a fragment of Parallax's being, which somehow makes him evil and a telepath. For years, he's been in love with Carol (Blake Lively) and his father hates him, so the obvious thing to do is to kill both, along with hundreds of other people, when he tries to crash his father's plane at a party. He eventually gets to kill his father by incinerating him, but for some reason Parallax isn't too happy with him, so he sucks out his skeleton.
All this time, Parallax, a former Lantern who absorbed the power of fear which for some reason made him evil, has been devouring worlds and sucking souls. He senses Hammond and a Green Lantern on Earth, so he decides to go there. The Green Lanterns try to stop him, but they can't, so they give up. When he finally gets there, he makes a bunch of people run around in the middle of a city before Hal Jordan, the guy who failed his Green Lantern job so hard no one even cared when he quit or offered to help him defeat Parallex, even though he was going to destroy Oa and all the Lanterns after Earth, defeats him in like three minutes and throws him into the sun. Sinestro and the gang then stand with him in space and give him approving smiles.
Now, Jordan has gone from being a scared human to being a non-scared human and the toast of the Green Lanterns and Earth.
When you really think about it, it's hard to really find a more contrived, ridiculous, and essentially pointless and inconsistent plot in Hollywood these days. The film is absolutely terrible and makes no attempt to even make sense. It's lazy writing, plain bad writing and just annoying. There's no continuity, plot points from the first act are just ignored later on and you never feel as if anyone's in danger even though they make it a point to tell us that this bad guy can destroy worlds and is planning to kill all the Green Lanterns. Instead we're left with a pointless love story between Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, who goes from fighter pilot to air force executive in about 10 minutes, and who, together, go from hating each other to loving each other even faster.
Martin Campbell (GoldenEye, Casino Royale, Edge of Darkness) is a decent director and does all he can with this mess, but you really could have put anyone in his chair and it would have been just as shitty. It's as if they chose his name out of a hat. The film is so littered with CGI, voice-over work and pointless and forgotten plot points that it doesn't really matter. Chris Nolan might not even have been able to save this crapsterpiece.
And we haven't even gotten to the fact that literally nothing in this film has anything to do with its source material. Hal Jordan is the polar opposite of his comic book self, Abin Sur and Parallax look nothing like they should, Sinestro is over-simplified and his character choices make no sense. I don't have the time or patience to go through it all, but there's a great article on Screen Rant comparing the canon and the film that you should check out.
In sum, this movie sucks. The plot was ridiculous, all over the place and made no sense. Countless name actors were wasted in favor of two "it" actors who can't save a movie if their lives depended on it, and while not as bad as originally thought and likely the best part of the movie, the CGI action sequences are loud, obnoxious, overbearing and essentially pointless and senseless. It's one thing to enjoy a bad movie because of good action or because you're a fan. It's one thing to go to the movies for mindless entertainment, and that's why you may see some of my scores are higher than the "average" at times. But Green Lantern makes no attempt to entertain, instead opting to put together a sloppy and terrible movie made even more terrible by patched together action sequences and uneven plot points.
Don't waste your time, unless you feel like harnessing the power of anger, Parallax style. 2 out of 10.