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Skippy Goes To The Movies!: “Green Lantern” June 18, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Comics, Movies.
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Verdict: A minimally passable superhero movie with far too many plot holes.

Clearly, Hollywood is banking on the success of superhero movies in order to sustain box office receipts during the summer blockbuster season. This summer alone, we’ve had three superhero movies with at least one more on the way. So, now we have “Green Lantern.” What is there to say about this movie?

Well, it is not as bad as some reviewers have made it out to be. However, it is not as good as I had hoped it would be. The story is fairly simple: wiseass Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) receives a ring from a dying member of an intergalactic police corps and must overcome his own self-doubt (and fear) in order to save the Earth from a powerful threat. Actually, he must save the Earth from two threats–Parallax and Hector Hammond. As with most superhero movies, the chief concern for the comic book fan is how closely the movie hews to the source material. This movie borrows largely from Geoff Johns’s revival of Green Lantern in “Green Lantern: Rebirth.” It was Johns’s narrative that introduced the villain Parallax (and, in that story, served as the rationale behind Hal Jordan’s prior bad acts…it’s a long, long story). It should also serve as little surprise that Johns also was a co-producer. Marc Guggenheim, who has some experience with the genre, was one of a handful of writers.

As a DC Comics partisan, I went in to this movie hoping that it would be suitably epic—after all, all the elements of a space epic are there: a relatively ordinary person receives a call to extraordinary adventure and is thrust into events that are far outside his/her normal experience. However, despite the epic possibilities, the movie seems rather…flat. Reynolds’s portrayal of Hal Jordan has the requisite charm. The story attempts to afford Reynolds some “character development” in that he (spoiler alert!) overcomes his fear in order to fight Parallax and its pseudo-henchman Hector Hammond. The viewer is also supposed to believe that Jordan is in a romance with Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), but the romance as we see it on the screen appears fairly juvenile.

Of course, I didn’t go to this movie looking for a well-crafted romance. I went to see action…and we got that. Any superhero movie must have the Big Save—the scene wherein the hero is revealed to the world. Green Lantern’s revelation to the world seems oddly anticlimactic. It’s played almost as an afterthought. Even the climactic battle with Parallax seems, well, not to overuse the word, but it seems fairly flat. Perhaps it’s because Parallax doesn’t feel like a credible villain. I would put Parallax on par with the movie version of Galactus in the Fantastic Four. I don’t understand the recent trend of turning galactic villains into amorphous clouds (Galactus, Parallax, Darkseid). There is a maxim in superhero movies: the movie is only as good as its villain. How good can a superhero movie be if the main villain is a giant tornadic cloud of evil? To try to combat that, the writers (of which there were many) felt it necessary to make Hector Hammond a minion of Parallax (which he isn’t in the comic books). The problem there is that there are now two too many villains.

I mentioned plot holes. Here’s one. After the third time that Hal decides to quit being a Green Lantern (not once do the GL Corps come and get their ring), he decides to go all the way to Oa…to tell the Guardians that he’s going to fight Parallax. That’s it. He just shows up and gives this ridiculously boring speech about how humans are worth saving. Well, allllllrighty then.

Here’s another one. When Hal first gets the ring, he’s whisked off to Oa for training. He’s there for what seems to be like an hour or two, gets his ass kicked by Kilowog and Sinestro (who, sadly, gets very little character development), is told that he and the human race suck ass, and then comes back to Earth, having quit the Corps (but he’s allowed to keep the ring?). Nevertheless, after Carol and the forgettable sidekick/best friend tell Hal to get his head out of his ass and save the world, he acts like he’s a fully trained Jedi Knight. What the frak?

Frankly, if you don’t go see this in the theater, you’re not missing anything. It might be a good idea to wait for this to come out on DVD (it’ll probably look far better on Blu-Ray at home than in a theater). They tried to make an epic sci-fi superhero movie, the ingredients were mostly there, but sadly, “Green Lantern” missed the mark.

Perhaps the sequel will get it right.

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