Green Lantern (2011)


Green Lantern

By Throwback

Before we dig into Green Lantern, let me admit my biases right away. I have read comic books my entire life. I have always been a huge fan of the Green Lantern. No further detail on this is really necessary, as it should not be construed as positively affecting my review of the movie. If anything, such a history would skew my review to the contrary. Everyone knows that fans can be obsessively critical about movies based on their favorite source material. In fact, given the previews and my own love of the comic, I was fully prepared to hate this film.

To avoid spoilers, I’ll stick with the broad brush here. Green Lantern is the story of an immature test pilot named Hal Jordan whose life is irrevocably disrupted one day when a dying alien member of an intergalactic police force entrusts him with being his successor. Part of this means wielding a ring that uses the owner’s willpower to turn thought into reality - a pretty handy weapon to have in the hands of a strong-willed person! Not so much with someone overpowered by fear, which is pretty much Hal Jordan’s calling card.

Despite the other reviews to the contrary, all this back story (including the origin of the major villain) is actually handled quite well. Neither my mother, my wife, nor my sister knew anything about Green Lantern, yet they processed all this information without any difficulty whatsoever. I wonder if the other reviewers I’ve read saw the same movie.

The acting is a bit of a mixed bag, but it trends good for the most part. Ryan Reynolds plays the same role as in every other movie he’s in, but that works in this one because it’s exactly who Hal Jordan is meant to be. Blake Lively, aside from being highly attractive, is completely unconvincing as a fighter pilot/corporate genius/love interest. Remember when Denise Richards was a nuclear physicist in The World is Not Enough? It’s about that bad.

The great performances were also unfortunately the most under-utilized. Mark Strong made for a fantastic Sinestro. Peter Saarsgard, who I hadn’t seen in anything else, was appropriately creepy and malicious as minor villain Hector Hammond. It would have been much better if he had been the main villain, but I understand that he probably wasn’t viewed as being a “cosmic” enough threat for this movie.

Let’s talk about what really didn’t work, though, and why this film should have been great but turned out as just "pretty good." First off, the CGI got annoying at parts, especially the mask, which looked plain goofy. It made for a terrific joke at one point, so I’m almost convinced even the people making the movie knew how awful it was. Needless to say, the joke wasn’t worth keeping it around. Anybody who has seen the previews and has seen any other movie with CGI should be well-prepared for this. CGI is what it is, which usually isn’t good.

The real flaw for Green Lantern is the editing, which is so atrocious that it drags down the entire show. Whiplash-inducing scene cuts, inexplicable settings where you have no idea how or why the characters are there, moments of utter confusion about who is supposed to be doing what, etc. This editing crew indulged in every sin that folks in their profession might commit. And yes, it’s so bad that it taints the whole movie. What should have been great winds up being very uneven, poorly paced, and often just bewildering to the audience.

Regarding the Catholic elements, there was much to appreciate. Hal’s main evolution is discerning the difference between cockiness/arrogance and courage. There is a good deal of emphasis on the fact that one must be chosen to be a Green Lantern. This isn’t like Superman, whose powers are his by nature, or Iron Man, who basically makes himself into a hero. Green Lantern is naturally quite flawed and sure to be helpless against the threats he encounters. It’s only through a power greater than himself elevating him above his nature that he has the ability to fight his battles.

Finally, on a bit more of a sophisticated level, Green Lantern demonstrates the significance of intellect and will, items often forgotten in much Catholic analysis today.

Is it kid-friendly? Not really. There is some blasphemous profanity and some mild sexual innuendo, including a scene with Hal waking up next to a woman. Hector Hammond is creepy enough that you might want to keep kids away. All very disappointing considering that Thor was squeaky clean.

Was it perfect? No. Was it outstanding? No. Was it good enough to merit a viewing in the theater? Absolutely. For the ladies, my aforementioned mother, sibling, and spouse all thoroughly enjoyed it, so you’ve got that going for you. So go see it and tell me where I’m wrong.

Some good themes, nice action sequences and alright story, coupled with crummy editing and lame acting performances by B-rate actors - Green Lantern gets 1.5 papal tiaras out of three.

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