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Tony’s Review of “The Green Lantern”

(Image Credit: Warner Bros/DC Comics)

I’ve had a week to really think about the movie, and I’m not sure if that was enough time.  I really enjoyed the movie.  It was everything a summer blockbuster should be.  But still, I walked out of the theater with a feeling of disappointment.  Though it was a good movie, it wasn’t a good Green Lantern film.  For people who walked in with little knowledge of the history of the character, that wasn’t a problem.  But for fans like me, the film fell very short.  Like my review of “X-Men: The First Class”, I will do everything I can to be as spoiler-free as possible, but there might be a spoiler here and there.

If you don’t know about the Green Lantern, don’t worry.  The film opens with an explanation.  Immortals known as the Guardians of the Universe harnessed the green energy of willpower, the most powerful force they could find.  Using that energy, the Guardians created 3,600 power rings and sent them to all parts of the universe to seek out those who were without fear.  The Green Lantern Corps act as a universal police force, using the rings to create anything they can imagine, known as constructs, to use against enemies.  We now skip ahead a million years or so to the greatest Green Lantern, Abin Sur, the only Lantern that had the ability to defeat and imprison the entity known as Parallax.  Parallax, a fear inducing monster, is unintentionally released and seeks revenge on Abin Sur, destroying any civilized planet in his path.  After being mortally wounded by Parallax, Abin Sur instructs his ring to seek out its next owner at the nearest civilized planet, Earth.  The ring selects Air Force fighter pilot Hal Jordan.  The rest of the film deals with Jordan being trained on the Lanterns home world of Oa, and trying to come to terms with the idea that the ring saw something in him and he doesn’t see.

As I said, this wasn’t really a bad movie.  I was entertained, but as someone who tends to over analyze movies, there were parts that really bugged me.  First, the story was far too quick.  The movie was only 1 hour and 45 minutes, but they probably should have had another half hour.  Certain parts of the story seemed extremely rushed.  When Hal Jordan arrives at Oa, he is trained by Kilowog (voiced by Michael Clark Duncan) and Abin Sur’s protégée Sinestro (played perfectly by Mark Strong).  We get what amounts to maybe a few hours of Jordan’s training before he decides it is too tough and quits.  With the film being as short as it was, a few bits of cheesy dialog had to be added in to explain to the audience who Hal’s best friend is and that Hal Jordan, Carol Farris, and Hector Hammond were all childhood friends.  With the filmmakers relying on the dialog to explain this rather than taking the time to show it in scenes, the relationships they are explaining don’t seem genuine.  Also, Sinestro’s turn was way too abrupt.  Again, if you’re not familiar with the lore, Sinestro goes from being one of the greatest Green Lanterns to being their biggest enemy.  To battle the fear entity Parallax, Sinestro convinces the guardians to make a new ring forged from the power of fear, the same power Parallax has.  The ring is created, but the situation is resolved before its use is necessary.  In a post-credit sequence, Sinestro puts the yellow ring on and changes into the uniform used in the comics today.  The flip to tossing aside the Green Lantern Corps and using this ring feels way too abrupt, with little reason for it other than to set up the next film.  It would have made more sense for the next film to deal with Sinestro’s turn, with his change to the yellow ring before the climactic battle.  This would also give more time to explore the friendship between Sinestro and Hal.  More time spent on building their friendship would give more power to his later betrayal.    

The casting for this movie was pretty good, with one main exception, Blake Lively.  At 23-years-old (11 years younger than Ryan Reynolds who is supposed to be a childhood friend), Blake Lively is way too young to believably play an experienced Air Force fighter pilot and someone ready to take over a multi-million dollar company.  I felt like I was watching Kate Bosworth in “Superman Returns” all over again.  The filmmakers bypassed casting an older, believable actress for the role, and instead selected a young, hot actress who could get the “Gossip Girl” audience into the theatre. 

The last problem I had with this movie was the direction and editing.  I was excited as can be when I heard Martin Campbell would be directing this movie.  Campbell directed my two favorite James Bond movies, “Goldeneye” and “Casino Royale”.  But this movie didn’t remotely resemble the unique directing style of those films.  Quite honestly, the directing style of this film was nothing special.  And as the head of the film, Campbell dropped the ball with overseeing the editing.  A reviewer from Spill.com said it perfectly when he said the biggest enemy in the movie was the editor.  Too many scenes had abrupt cuts that destroyed the pacing of the film and were strangely intermixed with other scenes to give a jumbled presentation of things going on at the same time. 

Overall, even with the frustrating parts, I would suggest seeing this movie.  Just consider catching a matinee so you don’t pay full price.  Ryan Reynolds did a good job, Mark Strong did an AMAZING job as Sinestro, and all of the scenes in Oa looked fantastic.  I was worried that the use of CGI would be like the new Star Wars films and feel overdone, but it felt right here.  And using CGI to create the Green Lantern suits gave it the feel they were hoping for, that the suit is just one of the many things the ring can create.

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