I have been the loudest and longest trumpeter that this movie has had for the last few years (yes, years). I have been a fan of the source comics for much longer than that. I have a different toy ring to fit on each of my fingers, and a light-up replica of Green Lantern’s power battery in my garage. So it was with much trepidation that I went to see the movie last night after a slew of painful reviews that it had received.
First, a review of the reviews. I lost count trying to keep track of the number of times reviewers used the phrases “obligatory,” “cliched,” “formulaic,” and “unnecessary.” It is almost as if there is a group of movie reviewers sitting in a dour ivory tower where they have been taught first and foremost to see only the negative in movies before they are allowed to enjoy them, if at all. It is almost as if they have been given a roof over their heads, a good warm meal 3 times a day, and a clean pillow and bed to sleep in with a loving spouse, and then complain that the house isn’t the Taj Majal, the food isn’t Wolfgang Puck, the bed isn’t handplucked goosefeathers, and the spouse isn’t Fabio or Drew Barrymore.
If you don’t like movies, don’t see them. If you are going to crap all over something, at least wait until others have had a chance to eat. Do you ever complain about the “obligatory” nature of movie credits? How about the “cliched” way that every pop song has a chorus? Is it formulaic to state that humans are so lame because they usuaully like to brush their teeth the same way every day? Is it uncessessary to tell children that they are loved, even though it might have happened the day or hour just before? I bet the answer is no. And for that reason I say: Movie critics, stay they hell away from comic book movies.
You just don’t get it. It is the same reason that I hid my love of comics from you bastards as a kid. You just like to make fun and be jerks. Well, I am not that little kid anymore, and as a grown man who has enough life experience and counseling to know who i am finally, I can say with confidence that Green Lantern was freaking awesome! So go play with your dour romantic comedies and overly cerebral movies about foreign imperialists learning to talk better. We are having fun on this side of the theatre.
Now, the movie.
Spoiler Alert: Continue at your own peril.
Faithful interpretation? The good news is that the script stays true to the heart of the mythos at every most important part. Of course, Hal Jordan is the main protagonist, and that for me was 80% of the movie, right there. I’m not sure how many will remember that the first serious Green Lantern script had Jack Black as Kyle Rayner. That would not have been ok. The scope of the Green Lantern comics wasn’t fully utilized, but it was hinted at, giving us a very good hope of seeing an all-cosmic Green Lantern sequel in the next few years, which if the cosmic scenes in this movie are any indication, would be epic on an epic scale.
Cast: The cast was great. They all did great jobs with the parts and character that they were given. Ryan Reynolds was a great Hal. If anyone says differently, they either don’t know Hal or are just hating on Reynolds for their own silly reasons. Mark Strong was epic as Sinestro, although his screen time was woefully short. This should be rectified in future installments. Blake Lively, for all of the grief she has recieved about this role, plays Carol Ferris as fire and ice as the comic version of Carol. Peter Sarsgaard did a great job as Hector Hammond, and Geoffry Rush and Micheal Clark Duncan really nailed the voices for Tomar-Re and Kilowog.
Villains: The villains were altered from their comic book counterparts in a few ways. First, the main antagonist, Parallax, is a product of a rogue guardian experimenting with the power of fear. While this is mirrored in the comics, where the rogue guardian Krona experiments with emotions, the movie equates Parallax with this rogue guardian instead of granting that Parallax is the embodiment of fear. Also, the insect-like appearance of Parallax is replaced by a cloud/face/tentacle that is pulled off much better than was Galactus in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
Hector Hammond had his brain size toned down a few hundred times, but the villian really worked anyway. He was genuinely freaky and threatening, if underused and under-explored.
It should also be noted that Amanda Waller shows up in a governmental role. That name might not mean anything to non-fans, but she is to DC what Nick Fury is to Marvel, albeit in a less hands on, overtly militaristic way. Her presence sets up an antagonist to the Justice League within the U.S. government for future movies.
Costume: The trailers all made Hal’s costume look ridiculous. That is what worried me the most. However, it is apparent that all of the money they spent last-minute to get the CGI right paid off. It was (aside from the white gloves becoming green) a 100% faithful and well done translation of Hal’s current costume.
Problems: Editing. It felt like there was another 45 minutes that were supposed to be in this movie. I understand why they wouldn’t want to put it in, but the movie is the worse for it. I read in initial drafts of the movie, Hal’s childhood is told in a more straighforward manner than in the movie, and I think there was a misstep by not keeping it that way. Also, if I am being honest, there are a few times, where it was clear that something important happened off-screen that would have made the next scene make more sense story-wise. What does this mean? That hopefully we will get an amazing director’s cut!
Verdict: This movie will not win any oscars. And good. This movie will turn a bunch of younglings into Green Lantern fans, guaranteed. It will make people more interested in Green Lantern and comics in general. It will spawn a sequel and is the opening salvo into a greater DC universe. And it will give us a gateway into the animated series that is set to hit later this year. This movie will make tons of money, and it should. It is fun. Light. Shiny. And I will see it again, next time with my kids, and I will be glad that someone, somewhere still thinks that a light-hearted superhero who doesn’t brood, or scare children, or kill their enemies is a good idea.