Review: Green Lantern, No Cliche Will Escape My Sight

Why didn't they just make this an animated film? Oh wait...

NOTE: There are no more spoilers in this review than what you see in the millions of previews shown on television.

Let me start off by saying that I hate 3D movies.  As someone who wears glasses, they are not fun to watch.  The glasses you have to wear are uncomfortable and distracting, and there’s always a part of me that wants to see what the screen looks like without them.  So I was incredibly disappointed to walk into the screening of Green Lantern only to find that it was in 3D.

It was even more disappointing because the movie didn’t really utilize the 3D in the first place, so I was wearing stupid plastic glasses over my regular glasses that made my eye get all twitchy for no obvious reason.  Definitely not a selling point, Hollywood film makers.  Please cut it out with the 3D.

 

As for the movie itself, it’s just what you’d expect from a movie created out of a comic book that’s been running for decades: there is loads of exposition yet nothing is ever fully explained;  there are interesting side characters that never get fleshed out; and of course, it’s set up for a sequel.  And things go crash, blow up, somebody gets a giant head (that sadly is not one of the things that blows up) and (SPOILER ALERT) people get eaten by the smoke monster from Lost.

Ch'p gets no respect For those of you without the comic book background, Green Lantern is about an overgrown test pilot frat boy named Hal Jordan who inherits a magic ring from Abin Sur (the “dying purple alien” from the trailers).  This ring allows Hal to create anything he could possibly imagine through sheer willpower and, with it, he’s supposed to battle evil and protect all the planets and inhabitants of his sector or something like that.  At least, that’s the gist.  There are also little blue, giant headed wrinkly guys who are supposed to be wise, a fish man, a giant beast of an alien, a purple guy with painted on eyebrows… lots of weird and wondrous alien creations (but no Green Lantern squirrel, which was disappointing).

Because this movie isn’t just for the comic geek standing in line behind me at the screening, the movie spends the first half explaining and demonstrating what Green Lanterns are for, how the ring works, who the bad guy is (previously mentioned smoke monster from Lost), etc.  By the time the requisite “Hero has doubts that he cannot fulfill his destiny oh noes!” moment arrives, the movie is more than half way over.  But of course our hero finds his resolve to fight on, but by then the camera man was quickly running out of digital space or something, so the final anticlimactic “epic” battle is done and over in five minutes.

This is a popcorn movie in the truest sense of the phrase.  Nothing happens that couldn’t be predicted going into the theatre as long as you have a passing familiarity with comic book films (or even just “The Hero’s Journey” trope of storytelling).  What saves the movie from being a bland showoff of CGI and green screen are the actors.  Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan is as charming as ever with his irresponsible overgrown teen shtick and witty one liners despite the distracting painted on glowing suit.  Peter Sarsgaard was suitably creepy as Dr. Hector Hammond and still managed to act even beneath that giant head.  Even Blake Lively is surprisingly good as love interest and business lady Carol Ferris, though I was expecting her to be cardboard and vapid so anything more than that is a win in my book.

It’s a fun movie.  If you like 3D or overuse of CG and green screen, this is a great film to turn off your brain and just watch.  Don’t try to understand it beyond the surface explanations that are given.  Try not to focus only on the fact that the CG Green Lantern costume looks ridiculous on a human actor and you’ll probably enjoy it.

 

Grade: C+ - big dumb summer fun that could have been so much better