Title: Green Lantern.
Universe: DC (stand-alone).
Director: Martin Campbell.
Screenplay: Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim & Michael Goldenberg.
Story: Greg Berlanti, Michael Green & Marc Guggenheim.
Release Date: 2011.
Runtime: 114 min.
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science-Fiction.
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong and many more!
Opening Weekend: $53,174,303.
Domestic Gross: $116,601,172.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ (4/10).
One of the greatest problems that DC movies have been struggling with for countless years is the meddling of studios in production and development. From changes to directors to interference in the script, these issues continue to pervade and destroy countless movies that could’ve been much greater than what they turned out to be. Among those movies, there is one movie that has suffered from this and earned its title as one of the worse superhero movies to have been released theatrically and it is none other than Green Lantern (2011). While it is isn’t as bad as some other movies under DC’s umbrella, such as Catwoman (2004) and Batman & Robin (1997), it did leave a bitter aftertaste for many viewers who went in looking forward to a cinematically-revolutionary sci-fi space cop story only to come out of theaters having seen a messy, light, rom-com with questionable CGI-effects. While many view it as a complete failure, it still does offer some average-to-good moments that save it from being completely crucified alive.
What is Green Lantern (2011) about? Following an encounter with the deadly Parallax, Green Lantern Abin Sur escapes in a pod and crash-lands on Earth where he sends his power ring in search of a successor that will carry on the responsibilities that comes with it and who is deemed worthy to take on the mantle. It is none other than the reckless test pilot Hal Jordan that is sought and is brought to take the oath to become a Green Lantern, an intergalactic space cop part of the Green Lantern Corps. As a representative of Earth, one of the 3600 sectors in the universe, Hal Jordan has to learn to overcome fear and summon his willpower to become the superhero he was meant to be. Accustomed to avoiding and running away from responsibilities, Hal Jordan’s struggles continue in his new role and it is only by looking deep within himself that he will be able to overcome it all. Will willpower be enough to defeat fear? That is the premise behind this superhero origin story.
The script remains its biggest fault and the real reason behind its downfall. There are so many plotlines that make no sense at all and countless directorial decisions that are incomprehensible, knowing that the Green Lantern is a superhero with incredibly rich lore that could’ve allowed just about anyone to create a memorable and visually-stunning movie. In fact, the mere idea of a galactic space force with magical rings that allow their beholders the ability to conjure anything from their imagination with sheer willpower should’ve instantly given us an entertaining and immersive movie. What we instead get is a movie that lost itself in an earthling romance polluted with characters with daddy issues that drive them to avoid action and hide in cowardice and status quo. The quick introduction of the Green Lantern Corps and all of the heroes from different sectors was also an indicator of this movie’s obliviousness to all of its potential. If it had at least considered building Hal Jordan’s bravado and character in space instead of Earth, the movie would have easily won points it so desperately craved.
While its extremely simple and linear plot was a major downside, it didn’t help that the material offered for all the characters kept the actors from having an opportunity to shine and take off throughout the movie. Ryan Reynolds gave us the best that he could with what he had in a role where he had to deliver witty humour but also an unlikeable personality as Hal Jordan. Although I’m not a huge fan of his to start it all off, he did give a respectable attempt as the Emerald Crusader, and only truly needed a solid script to work with, which unfortunately remained inexistent throughout the movie’s production. It only suffices to take Blake Lively’s role as the stunningly beautiful love interest to show that this movie wasn’t taking itself seriously. So, how exactly did they expect anyone to hence take it seriously? At least Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively’s real-life relationship couldn’t have been ongoing and solid if they hadn’t met thanks to their respective roles in Green Lantern.
Another issue with the movie was its choice for its main antagonist. There are two main villains, the first one being Parallax (voiced by Clancy Brown), an abomination that is mostly portrayed as a giant, vicious, ugly and tentacular cloud creature, and the other being a Hector Hammond (played by Peter Sarsgaard), a mad scientist who ends up corrupted and power-hungry. The choice to give Hal Jordan an abstract villain was an ill-advised decision and never gave the character the opportunity to truly face adversity and to fully explore his powers. With only a poor and short introduction of Sinestro (played by Mark Strong), it was easy to see how much wiser it would have been if he was the main antagonist instead of teasing it in the mid-credit scene. However, Peter Sarsgaard does steal the show with his portrayal of a character descending into darkness although he doesn’t get a very memorable ending. It is unfortunate that the movie failed to capitalize on both Mark Strong’s and Peter Sarsgaard’s character and acting abilities as they were the most promising casting choices for their respective roles. I mean, look at Sinestro. You couldn’t have gotten a better actor to play him and to also look so much like him too.
The element that finally put the nail in the coffin is the animation. To first decide to animate Green Lantern’s suit was a huge mistake, especially his mask. If there’s one thing that takes you out of the moment in any movie it is any form of animation that is forced into real-life sequences. In this movie, it is hard to not look at Hal Jordan in his costume and be reminded that it is all fake. The CGI was also far from being impressive, considering that you have a hero that can come up with any ring construct thanks to his powers. With childish and mediocre ideas, his constructs also remind you that the target audience might not have been anyone too mature. It also doesn’t help that the space civilizations and the cities that are shown—very quickly—in this movie didn’t look or feel alive at all. The CGI used essentially gave us a pale and dead impression when it should’ve have been vibrant and stunning. Once again, with what they had in their hands, they could’ve given us so much more but preferred to offer us a dull final product.
Green Lantern (2011) is a missed opportunity that fails to exploit the galactic space cop premise and resorts to a poor linear and gratuitous plot to introduce the Emerald Crusader on the big screen.
Green Lantern (2011) is not based on a particular comic book story but adapts the superheroes’ origin story! Check out Geoff John’s run of the character based on Geoff Johns’ run of the character!
Have you read any Green Lantern comics?
Have you seen Green Lantern (2011)? What did you think about it?
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