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Home > Film, Reviews > Nerdeux Reviews: Green Lantern

Nerdeux Reviews: Green Lantern

Welcome to Nerdeux Reviews, where every Friday we’ll sit down and give a review of pretty much whatever film we want. Usually, it’ll be a Friday release, but during the slow months we might dive into our back catalog and do some vintage reviewing. For our first ever review we’ll be looking at the long-anticipated Green Lantern, which was finally released nationwide today.

I will admit, I was one of the fans extremely worried about the film after that disastrous first trailer, though I admit the WonderCon footage did rope me back in and get me excited. After viewing a midnight show last night, and stewing on it a bit, I am happy to report that although the film is by no means perfect and does have its flaws it is an enjoyable and, more importantly, faithful adaptation of the Lantern mythos. Warner Bros. and director Martin Campbell of Casino Royale fame adequately adapt the property in such a way that the general audience is able to ease themselves into the massive, often operatic world of the Green Lantern Corps. The full review follows after the break, and be warned that there may be potential spoilers.

Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan

Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan

The film itself has some high expectations to meet, as well as a lot of hurdles to clear. As the first DC Comics film on the big screen that doesn’t feature Batman or Superman, its performance could set the course of action for future exploration into the DC universe. It is entirely possible that should Green Lantern not live up to expectations we may never get to see adaptations of some of our other favorite heroes, such as the Flash, Green Arrow, or Aquaman, which have all been rumored to be in consideration. Add in the whole Wonder Woman television pilot debacle earlier this year, the fact that Hal Jordan isn’t a well-known hero outside the world of comics (I personally witnessed a lot of people mixing up this film with The Green Hornet, thinking they were one in the same), and the films troubled production history, and it would seem that director Martin Campbell and the cast have a lot working against them.

One of the controversial factors in the pre-production of the film was the casting of Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan. A lot of fans, myself included, just couldn’t see him as “Hal-esque,” and after that first trailer I was convinced the studio was turning the property into your standard Ryan Reynolds comedy. However, Reynolds comes through with flying colors and by the end I truly felt that the man was channeling Hal. Everything that makes the character great, from the bravado to the confidence to the humanity, is there, although his development into the character adored by many seems to move a bit slowly. Another factor that I feel points even more to the strength in his portrayal has to do with the CGI suit. For every new trailer released and every still published, there was a huge amount of negative feedback about the suit, which was completely CGI as it is a construct of the ring. Even I won’t try and defend that mask, though many may be pleasantly surprised that there are some jabs at it in the film itself. But about halfway into the film I was feeling the suit, I thought it looked right, and it didn’t bug me as it had in the trailers. I think a lot of this had to do with Reynolds’ portrayal of Hal, he makes you care enough about the character that the suit just isn’t worth nitpicking. Also, in defense of the artists, the suit actually does look very nice in a majority of its appearances.

Mark Strong as Sinestro, Michael Clarke Duncan as Kilowog, Geoffrey Rush as Tomar-Re, and Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond

Mark Strong as Sinestro, Michael Clarke Duncan as Kilowog, Geoffrey Rush as Tomar-Re, and Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond

Though the script is weak at times, the performance of the actors more than makes up for it. Although Reynolds does Hal proud, the true stars are the supporting cast. Every single one of them absolutely crushes their performance, but the true standouts are Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond and Mark Strong as Sinestro. Sarsgaard seems to be truly having fun with it, and as a result Hammond comes off even creepier than anything I have ever read featuring him. He gives off a vibe that makes you think his next appearance might be “taking a seat over there” for Chris Hansen yet at the same time you feel bad for the him and what he’s had to go through, which I think is key when portraying a villain.

There is no doubt about it, Mark Strong IS Sinestro. Not just in appearance, either. Everything is there: the holier-than-thou attitude, the ego, the pride, you can even sense a tiny bit of distaste for the Guardians. I cannot wait for the next installment simply because I really want to see Strong take Sinestro fully into the darkness as the founder of the Sinestro Corps (hinted at in the film and shown outright after the credits).

The Green Lantern Corps assembled

The Green Lantern Corps assembles

Something that many non-comic fans may overlook, but is probably the most important factor, is how well the film manages to distill the entire mythos of the Corps in a way that it is extremely accessible to a general population. This sort of distillation is often the key to success when it comes to these adaptations: if the public doesn’t understand what’s going on, they’re going to hate it, which leads to negative buzz, which leads to bad box office, which means no more in the series. It would seem Martin Campbell recognizes this, as everything is presented in an easy-to-digest fashion. Though it takes liberties with the canon in doing so, the changes are relatively minute and achieve the same results as in the comics; in a sense, they reach the same destination, just by different roads. Though fans of the books need not despair, there are plenty of Easter eggs thrown in for the diehard comic fan (look for our follow-up post where we point a lot of these out).

Overall, Green Lantern is by no means the best comic book movie on the market and has its flaws. One issue that stood out and bugged me was the editing, there were many shots with no transition that could have benefited from a quick travel shot. For example, in one scene Hal is alerted that there is an imminent threat by the ring. A few minutes later, after some bits with Hammond and Amanda Waller, he’s kicking through the wall of a secret government facility seemingly out of nowhere. It would have been nice to have had a quick shot of him flying towards it after being alerted.

As I’ve pointed out, at times the script is weak. There are awesome moments, and there are bad moments, and I felt that it was too short and a little rushed for an adaptation dealing with such a large mythos, and lacked a definitive climax. However, it is by no means horrible, as many other critics have touted. It is a perfectly enjoyable film, and it’s nice to see a hero have FUN with his new abilities rather than brood and mope about it; it would seem DC took a page out of Marvel’s book as far as the tone is concerned.

I was also slightly disappointed at the lack of interaction with the other Lanterns, especially with them featuring prominently on the marketing materials. Sure we get interaction with Sinestro, Kilowog, and Tomar-Re but with all the Lanterns thrown into the film it would have been nice to at least see Hal get introduced to some, or see them do more than stand around. I’m looking more forward to the inevitable sequel, that’s set up nicely after the credits, especially if it features more Corps action (which will be the case if they adapt what I think they’re adapting). Hal always shines brightest when he’s “rallying the troops,” so to speak, and I think given that opportunity both Reynolds and the character could truly shine. Until then, Green Lantern sufficiently sets the stage for the mythos and manages to be an enjoyable summer blockbuster.

Final Score: 7/10

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