Sunday, June 19, 2011

Green Lantern - Brightest Day or Blackest Night?

As someone who hasn't been following the Green Lantern comic during its run, and who has only seen a few episodes of an animated series as well as a Duck Dodgers parody, I was initially uninterested in seeing this movie. The trailers didn't help much, but as the release date drew closer I figured I might as well see the movie anyway to see if it was any good. What I can say now is that after seeing it, I'm not sure I would ever view it again.

In the movie, the strongest of all the Green Lanterns, Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison), crash lands on Earth in a dying state. As his last act, he has his lantern ring find a new chosen one to take his place. The person it selects is Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), a U.S. Air Force Test Pilot who recently lost his job after accidentally crashing a plane and breaking protocol. He is drawn to Abin Sur's body and accepts the ring. After unlocking its powers, he is taken to Oa, where he is met with mixed reactions for being the first human to be selected into the Corps. After some failed training, he learns that he needs to overcome fear if he ever wants to become a successful addition, at the same time needing to stop an incoming threat known as Parallax (Clancy Brown) from devouring Earth.

While the plot may seem somewhat straightforward here, it becomes a bit confusing right off the bat by spending the first five minutes establishing the entire Green Lantern universe. Not only does the movie do this, but it doesn't stop doing this throughout the entire movie, placing as much Green Lantern lore into the script as possible. This makes the information harder to take in and it's very easy to forget some of what is exposited. On top of all this, Hal's character development seems a little rushed and his romance with Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) seems a little flat and underdeveloped. While I do commend the well-placed scenes that actually become important later in the plot, anyone who is remotely familiar with Green Lantern will know the fate of Sinestro (Mark Strong) from his first appearance, taking away most of the drama from the character for those who know.

The acting was overall ok, though I mostly just went with it. Ryan Reynolds actually portrayed Hal Jordan pretty well, even managing to deliver a few funny lines. The secondary villain Dr. Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) was also a little hammy in his delivery, contrasted with Tomar-Re (Geoffrey Rush) and Kilowog (Michael Clarke Duncan) who are portrayed as the stereotypical "smart guy" and "big guy" archetypes to a wide degree.

What I can praise however are the action scenes and CG effects. Hal Jordan in combat is actually pretty creative with the constructs he forms with his ring and they look obvious enough to be realistic to the universe. With characters composed entirely of CG though, it went through a bout of uncanny valley, but they were still interesting to look at. Action scenes are well framed and display the action nicely, but that doesn't prevent some scenes from having a small lull while the movie goes off in different directions at once. But again, the scenes were fun to look at and at least displayed a bit of creativity on the part of the characters.

Green Lantern wasn't the worst movie in the world, but it was far from the best. The amount of exposition is a little off-putting and will be immediately picked up and recognized by those who are far more familiar with the universe, although the plot has an odd pacing that shifts between comfortably quick or amazingly slow. I can only recommend this to younger fans of the franchise who are less likely to judge this film negatively, or simply to the fans of comic book super hero movies who need a topic of discussion until Captain America comes out. Even though there is a sequel hook during the credits, I'm not sure if I would put the ring back on.

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