I’d like us to take a brief moment of silence for all the cinema goers out there who shelled out good money to see The Green Lantern.
If you hadn’t gathered already, I’m feeling a bit let down concerning the quality of this weekend’s blockbuster hopeful.
Ryan Reynolds (The Proposal, X-men Origins: Wolverine) is the titular Green Lantern, a.k.a. Hal Jordan. Test pilot extraordinaire, Hal is breezing through life… at least, that’s what his first act introduction tells us as he wakes up in bed with an anonymous blonde (whom we never see again), is late to a test exercise (where he uses his wingman/love interest as live bait), and quits his job (no, he’s fired/laid off/suspended pending review).
Reynolds plays the role with his typical cocksure manner from times past, not really bringing anything to the table emotion-wise. Even his third act plea with the CGI Guardians of Oa amounts to little and is just a foil to prevent other Lanterns from the Corps from helping him stop the implacable evil that is the giant space octopus Parallax.
Filling (but not excelling at) the aforementioned love interest role is Blake Lively (The Town, Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants) as Carol Ferris. Fighter pilot, executive, and love triangle bait... she is, at times, nice to look at, but is never given anything really interesting to do aside from the scene where she very easily discerns what is under GL’s domino mask (the only clever trope of the movie, lampshading how anyone couldn’t recognize that Clark is Superman).
She’s not given enough screen time to be more than a stereotypical Girl Friday... and that's whenever Hal isn’t trying to feel her up. No arc, no conflict… just a warm body with an implied history (mentioned several times in the movie, as innuendoey as possible) who is a convenient damsel in distress for the film’s general villain (put upon brain trust Hector Hammond) to exploit.
Pretty much the same could be said for Hector, himself, really… played by Peter Sarsgaard (Garden State, Jarhead), though, instead of a love interest, Hector is a cutout bad guy played more as a petulant child who is jealous of the everything-comes-easy-to-him way that Hal lives his life. Apparently Hector, Hal and Carol all grew up together and have this strange, unspoken love triangle going on. Kind of hard to believe considering that the flashbacks we’re given focus entirely on a young Hal witnessing his father (also a test pilot) dying during a failed takeoff.
Supposedly Carol was there in the background somewhere (as the credits list a child actress filling the role), but I didn’t see her… and I certainly didn’t see a young Hector interacting with either of them. In fact, we don’t even get clued in that Hal and Carol even know Hector personally until the entirety of the earthbound cast congregates at a FerrisCorp cocktail party in the second act.
See how loose this all is?
On the Oa side of things, we have thousands of CGI Lanterns (from as many species) represented in several mass Lantern Corps meetings showing off just how detailed the special effects crew wanted to get. Major Lanterns present included the doomed Sinestro, played by Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes, Kick Ass) as well as Tomar Re (voiced by Geoffrey Rush) and Kilowog (voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan).
All three were fairly useless, merely walking wikis used to serve as CGI tutorial programs for Hal to learn to be an effective Green Lantern. Sinestro was given the most screen time as a stern Lantern Corps general whose post credits fall from grace was telegraphed the moment he began questioning the Guardians by considering to fight fear (Parallax) with fear (a Yellow Lantern Corps). There’s nothing of the fall from the comics in this Sinestro, just a flowchart set of action and reaction. In fact, the only thing that’s confusing about his character is why he bothers to put on the Yellow Ring to begin with.
Then there’s Tim Robbins (Shawshank Redemption, Hudsucker Proxy) and Angela Bassett (Strange Days, The Score) to round out the cast in small roles that are as underused as everyone else in the film. Instead of the smart, quirky roles that were given to well known actors in X-men: First Class, here the pseudo-cameos play the characters off as important but throw them away at the earliest convenience. And that’s not to mention the fact that we meet Hal’s siblings (and nephew) early in the movie… and then never see them again. What’s the point of establishing a family if you’re not going to use them?
Plot hole upon plot hole, compounded exponentially.
Filmmaking-wise, Green Lantern is your typical studio driven CGI summerfest with a few big names to fill up seats in the hope that the pretty graphics will distract viewers from obvious flaws in plot and flow. Martin Campbell, whose film pedigree includes the immensely successful reboot of the Bond series, has lost quite a bit of credibility here, putting forth a very weak entry into DC’s comic book movie universe.
It’s pretty… fairly pretty (not as pretty as Asgard in Thor)… but an empty shell in all other endeavors.
I really don’t think you could do any worse with a summer blockbuster, and I really hope that I haven’t just jinxed myself when it comes to Captain America and Cowboys vs. Aliens. Here’s hoping that when Reynolds finally does the Deadpool movie he’s been hinting at (for years now) that he and the film crew take lessons on what not to do from GL.
P.S. – If you’re going to put Amanda Waller in a DC comic book movie, bring her hard and kick ass or not at all.