Green Lantern had loads of potential but thanks primarily to the script, all of that was squandered. While the casting itself was actually pretty good, including Blake Lively as Carol Ferris, and even a few scenes were decent, the film’s structure was out of sorts with a weak villain…
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Action, Adventure
Warner Bros. | PG13/Unrated – 114 min./124 min. – $35.99 | October 14, 2011
Directed by: Martin Campbell
Writer(s): Greg Berlanti & Michael Green & Marc Guggenheim (screen story), Greg Berlanti & Michael Green & Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg (screenplay)
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, Tim Robbins
Theatrical Release Date: June 17, 2011
Features: Maximum Movie Mode, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, DVD Copy, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: Theatrical & Extended Version – English (DTS-HD MA 5.1); Theatrical Only – French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C (unconfirmed)
THE MOVIE – 2.75/5
Warner Brothers and DC Comics since the success of Batman Begins have been trying to expand beyond the Batman and Superman characters and try to establish some sort of movie universe akin to what Marvel has done that culminates in 2012 with The Avengers. I know Wonder Woman and The Flash were two characters that might get a live action, big-screen treatment, and while those haven’t yet come to fruition, one other did: Green Lantern. This is a comic book adaptation that on paper sounded like a winner but once footage got out, the damage was done and even Warner execs, despite their attempts to cram TV spots down the publics’ throats, knew they had a dud on their hands… a $200 million dud.
Green Lantern starts out with an origin for Hal Jordan as a kid in 1993. His father, Martin Jordan (JON TENNEY from “The Closer”), is a test pilot and on the morning of the latest test, Hal skips school to watch his father in action. Before stepping into the cockpit, Martin gives Hal his pilot jacket telling him to “keep it warm” and as anyone with a brain – and even some without – might guess, something terribly goes wrong and Hal sees his father die before his eyes. Obviously this sequence was necessary and predictable but at least try to disguise what was to happen rather than pulling out every cliché in the ‘Your Parent Is Going to Die, LOL’ manual.
Flash forward to the always reliable and yet ambiguous “Present Day” when Hal Jordan (RYAN REYNOLDS) is all grown up and has taken the same path as his crispy-tender father did and, as we discover, he’s a bit reckless with his own life taking everything to the limit from driving fast while hastily wrapping a present for his nephew (something he could have easily done elsewhere with time to spare) to trying to defeat a new computer operated jet in a training exercise in which his own jet crashes moments before Hal manages to parachute out. This happens as he gets flashbacks to his soon-to-be charred Pops’ demise and freezes mid-air. Afterwards, he gets scolded by childhood friend/love interest Carol Ferris (BLAKE LIVELY) and her father, owner of the aviation company, Carl Ferris (JAY O. SANDERS) as well as company backer, Senator Hammond (TIM ROBBINS). After getting chewed out at work, he gets the cold shoulder from his brothers as they see he has a death wish.
Meanwhile, somewhere in Sector (Insert Number Here), an alien named Abin Sur who has been mortally wounded by Parallax (voiced by CLANCY BROWN), a creature that used to be a member of the Guardians – founders and protectors of the Green Lantern Corps – who uses fear to gain more power. When a Green Lantern dies, his or her ring goes to a worthy suitor within that sector and, setting a course for Earth, the most populated planet nearby, the ring leaves Abin Sur and finds its way to Hal who is, of course, absolutely freaked out. The ring takes him to Abin Sur’s dying body who explains to him what the ring is for and how to use it (charging through a literal Green Lantern) and saying the oath.
At home Hal clumsily tries to figure out how it works exactly, but intercut with this, we get the film’s villain origin in Hector Hammond (PETER SARSGAARD) who has been called in by a covert government agency to examine the body of the recently confiscated body of Abin Sur. Hammond, a lifelong acquaintance of Hal Jordan’s, is a smart if not timid scientist. He dissects the body but upon cutting, a piece of Parallax infects Hammond and the process to his madness has begun.
To speed things along, as the film is only two hours long (I watched the extended version), Hal gets transported through space to the planet OA where he’s introduced to who the Green Lanterns are by Tomar-Re (voiced by GEOFFREY RUSH) and then “trained” Kilowog (voiced by MICHAEL CLARKE DUNCAN) and looked down upon by Sinestro (MARK STRONG), Abin Sur’s former mentor. Sinestro is concerned when it is learned that Parallax is headed to OA, but not before taking a side trip to Earth for a pre-Lantern appetizer. The Corp. won’t step in for whatever reason so it’s up to Hal Jordan to fulfill his destiny – he has some self doubt to why the ring chose him – and save the planet before it’s too late (where’s Superman when you need him!?!?) as well as deal with Hammond who is becoming increasingly insane and his jealousy/hatred for Jordan only has increased.
I skipped over a couple parts, but you get the gist. Despite my snide remarks, Green Lantern actually isn’t that bad of a movie as the casting was great but most everything else was flat or, at best, uneven. First, I have to know where the $200 million budget went because while some of the visual effects were fine, other parts looked like a mid-level video game. The Lantern suit wasn’t too bad and I could accept it, but the mask looked so horrid, they would’ve been better off using a practical mask rather than a CGI’d one. Then you have the alien creatures and the Guardians themselves that absolutely didn’t work and looked off, even for an alien race.
While the CGI and visual effects weren’t the best, including the laughable prosthetics used for Hector Hammond, they all pale in comparison with an utterly atrocious screenplay from writers Greg Berlanti (“Eli Stone”, Clash of the Titans 2), Michael Green (“Smallville”, “Heroes”), Marc Guggenheim (“Eli Stone”) and Michael Goldenberg (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix). It’s rarely a good thing when you have 5 writers and it shows with a plot that felt clunky, disjointed and vastly underdeveloped.
** Spoiler Warning **
Take for instance when Hal gets the ring and then transported to OA, he’s greeted by Tomar-Re who gives the 101 on the Green Lantern Corp, how the ring works, etc and then only a few minutes later Kilowog comes around to teach him how to use the ring to fight and finally Sinestro drops by for a few, fights and then leaves not being impressed with the human (which, to be fair, is true to the character). I swear, this entire sequence took maybe 15 minutes and yet later for the finale, Hal not only is able to go toe to toe with Parallax but ultimately outsmart him, with no help from the Corp who promptly show up to show their support and even one taking credit for training him. Sorry, that doesn’t make any sense, feeling as if an entire section of the movie, mainly on Oa, had been stripped under the guise of making a tighter movie…
** End Spoilers **
Last criticism for the film goes to veteran editor Stuart Baird, a man with several high profile projects to his name like Superman, Lethal Weapon, Casino Royale and Salt to name a few but some of the choice cuts seemed strange and while some blame can go to the script, he and Director Campbell should’ve rearranged things. The one scene I remember the most is the juxtaposition between Hal Jordan’s transformation into Green Lantern and Hector Hammond’s descent into madness forming into Parallax Jr. The cycle never quite connected and instead of building up into some dramatic prose it instead stopped any sort of momentum, as little as it might’ve been, the film had going.
This isn’t to say there aren’t any good scenes as there are a couple I enjoyed: 1. Green Lantern’s introduction to humans by saving a crashing helicopter from slicing and crushing everybody and 2. a clever scenes where GL goes to the balcony to see Carol (a superhero cliché, but it often works) to which I was about to groan thinking how she couldn’t see through the mask and disguised voice to know it’s her life-long friend, until she acknowledge how stupid it was and called Hal on it knowing it was him from the first moment.
Whose fault is it ultimately? Well, it comes down to the director and that disappointingly enough is Martin Campbell, who helmed two of the better James Bond movies in Golden Eye and Casino Royale, two well made films with plenty of action mixed with cool character moments, something present even in The Mask of Zorro, but mostly absent in Green Lantern.
I found Green Lantern to be a mostly half-assed project despite the bucko budget and yet some of the pieces, like the casting of Ryan Reynolds and for what little he got to do, Mark Strong as Sinestro, were the positive points and hopefully if a sequel does get greenlit that maybe Warner will hold on to what did work and hire themselves some top notch writers (Jonah Nolan anyone?) as well as a more reasonable budget to bring the franchise back on track.
The Blu-ray comes in a standard BD case with a glossy, reflective slip cover.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.75/5
Extended Version (2:03:39; HD) — While technically not a feature, I decided to place it here. My initial viewing was this version and even though it is roughly 10-minutes longer, I didn’t see much that added to the experience.
I should note that all of these are ** Blu-ray Exclusives **.
Maximum Movie Mode: Green Lantern’s Light – Warner’s Blu-ray staple feature allows the viewer to watch via a picture-in-picture window how the film was made using behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew. This is hosted by “Green Lantern” writer Geoff Johns. This is not as innovative as other MMM since it’s all contained with the PiP but never-the-less, it still offers up plenty of information about the movie and source material.
Focus Points (46:55; HD) – Here we get a collection of featurettes, that are available in the MMM, and provide a well-rounded look at how various elements of the film were done:
+ The Art of Green Lantern (6:03) – Explore the beauty of OA and its inhabitants through pre-production art.
+ Weapons Hot: The U.C.A.V. Dog Fight (4:04) – Experience the dangerous dogfight that almost cost Hal Jordan his life.
+ Reinventing the Superhero Costume (7:46) – The secrets behind Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern suit are revealed.
+ Ring Slinging 101 (5:20) – See how Kilowog, Tomar-Re and Sinestro put Hal Jordan through Green Lantern boot camp with this featurette that examines constructing the CGI elements.
+ We are the Corps (5:38) – Meet the prominent members (who weren’t seemingly all that prominent in the film) of the Green Lantern Corps and see how they came to be.
+ Acting Under 10 Pounds of Silicone (7:10) – The mysteries of Sinestro’s look and Hector’s ever-expanding head are revealed.
+ Guardians Revealed (6:10) – Learn the mysteries and secrets of the oldest inhabitants of OA.
+ When Parallax Attacks (4:42) – With fear as his weapon watch as Parallax gets bigger and more menacing. This featurette shows the progress on how Parallax was created.
The Universe According to Green Lantern (20:12; HD) is a detailed look at Hal Jordan’s inception and his ultimate rebirth through the comic books appearing today. This is more of a look at the character via the comic book than for the movie as it features interviews with those within DC Comics like the co-publisher and GL writers.
Deleted Scenes (7:16; HD) – Here we get a few unfinished scenes (which makes me wonder how the actors could keep a straight face) that are nice to watch but don’t offer a whole lot, including an alternate scene between Hal and Sinestro and a new scene involving Hal’s family.
Justice League #1 Digital Comic (9:13; HD) – With this you can read the comic book on your television or computer screen. I prefer the paper kind myself, but whatever…
Preview of “Green Lantern: The Animated Series” (6:32; HD) are scenes from the upcoming series. From what I saw, looks interesting though the animation style will take some time to get used to.
The Blu-ray also contains a DVD Copy and an UltraViolet Digital Copy which means you have to sign up for a UV account in order to get the copy.
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Green Lantern comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p high-definition transfer and is presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio. Although you might not tell by the rating, I actually was a little disappointed by the video transfer. No doubt it looks good in high-def, but I didn’t feel the detail levels were the best, though most likely it’s due to so much CGI rather than the transfer itself. Now, black levels are good without looking overly crushed and the wide array of colors including purple, blue and, obviously, greens are fairly bright and pop off the screen well enough. All that said, this is a standard video transfer but for a new release, it should’ve been better.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track shines, however. As you might imagine, there’s a fair amount to judge as there are several action sequences to go along with a few of the quieter moments, both are equally impressive. The depth in the action scenes makes good use of the front and rear channels while dialogue is mainly use the center speaker while idle chatter (or screams of terror) do come out of the rear speakers as well.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, Green Lantern had loads of potential but thanks primarily to the script, all of that was squandered. While the casting itself was actually pretty good, including Blake Lively as Carol Ferris, and even a few scenes were decent, the film’s structure was out of sorts with a weak villain and the lack of the Green Lantern Corps since a good portion takes place on Earth with Hal Jordan fighting alone. As poorly executed as the film was, there are kernels of good in it and even with a terrible box office performance, I hope Warner keeps what did work and move forward with a sequel.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.