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No mediocre movie shall escape my sight – Green Lantern

June 18, 2011

I went into this movie peeping though my fingers afraid of what might lurk. It’s an important film, the first one to feature a member of the DC superhero clique not named Batman or Superman, and as such a bellwether of whether or not more get made. Or even, dare we hope, whether we might get a decent Justice League flick someday to go along with next year’s Avengers. I had misgivings about many things going in, and the advance word was, how shall I say, less than stellar.

I’m here to tell you that this movie commits the greatest sin a summer movie can. It’s boring.

While there are certain things to brighten the dismal aspects, they’re more than weighed down by the junk. Some observations:

  1. Ryan Reynolds wouldn’t have been my first choice for Hal Jordan. I always envisioned Hal, for obvious reasons, as being a Chuck Yeager/The Right Stuff kind of guy. I look at Reynolds, I see Van Wilder. I see a douche. That said, he’s actually pretty good here. I’d like to see him in a Green Lantern movie that isn’t bad, in much the same way I would’ve liked to have seen Brandon Routh in a Superman movie where he wasn’t stalking Lois and her family.
  2. Blake Lively is dreadful as Carol Ferris. For much of the movie she looks like she’s in some contest to see how little she can move her mouth while she talks. She’s lifeless. The “Lively” is the falsiest of false advertising, and whenever she’s onscreen it’s a dose of generic Ambien. I almost fell asleep during her big “talk to Hal about his new gig” scene. Almost fell asleep at a matinée. She reminded me of the marionettes in Team America: World Police, and I’m left wishing that a puppet could have taken a crap on her. Maybe that would’ve livened (haha) things up.
  3. While the computer-generated costume works better than I thought it would, I still can’t shake the idea that it’s a green version of Slim Goodbody. And I miss the white gloves. I really do.
  4. The script flops around like a dying fish, and it’s not helped along by some shoddy, jumpy editing. There’s no humor here, and the dialogue (especially Earthside) is wooden.
  5. Giant clouds make for poor villains (See: Rise of the Silver Surfer). Parallax is an improvement on Fantastic Four II‘s Galactus (Now Featuring a Face and Voice!), but I’m still a tad underwhelmed.
  6. The only times where the proceedings pick up any sort of steam are on Oa. Tomar Re is wonderfully realized, with a pitch-perfect gentlemanly vocal performance by Geoffrey Rush, while Kilowog comes off well in spite of Michael Clarke Duncan’s voice booming out of his huge porcine head. I would have liked to have heard a little more rasp in there, but that’s just me. Marc Strong’s Sinestro, however, is marvellous. An arrogant, harsh Lantern who’s also the best of the Corps, he’s everything that you could want for one of the classic comic villains. And that’s the best part — he’s not a villain here, but a Lantern desperate to save Oa and the Corps from the threat of yellow energy, no matter the cost. His respect for Jordan by movie’s end makes his eventual fall worth something, and his willingness to fight fire with fire lays the groundwork for it. Unfortunately the filmmakers jump the gun on all that in a credits scene that comes completely out of left field and ruins a moment that should have been in a sequel. Maybe they realized that this was D.O.A. and knew they wouldn’t get one.
  7. Much is made of how Abin Sur trapped Parallax and sealed him in a prison in the “lost sector.” But the prison itself is so laughably weak, some stranded aliens literally stumble onto it and accidentally free him. You know those “In Case of Emergency Break Glass” fire extinguisher containers? It has the impenetrability of those. This was the first of MANY problems I had here.
  8. Back to Tomar Re for a second. He flies like a fish would fly, and his uniform is scaly while others are sinewy. These were small details I liked. I wish there were more like that.
  9. I read some complaints about the effects work, but I found them to be well done, if tragically well done in service of a limp story. The only quibble I’d have is that when the Guardians were speaking, my brain screamed “FAKE!”
  10. There’s surprisingly little action here, and we barely get a glimpse of the other Green Lanterns battling Parallax. Things wind down before they even have a chance to get started. I fear material was saved for a sequel that may never come.

This is a big disappointment, one that will make even fans of the Alan Scott Green Lantern shake their heads. Some people seem to be liking it, but I can’t concur. I’m joining the Anti-Green Lantern Corps. While there were bits and certain characters (no Ch’p, though…) that I could get behind, it’s an inescapable truth that I didn’t enjoy any sustained stretch of this movie. For that reason, it gets a very harsh one and a half Sinestro Widow’s Peaks out of five, making it a “don’t waste your time seeing it in a theater” boondoggle.

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