Monday, March 19, 2012

Green Lantern

Based on the DC comics by John Broome and Gil Kane, Green Lantern is the story of a young fighter pilot who meets a wounded alien that gives a powerful ring as he would become part of an elite group of intergalactic fighters protecting the world against evil. Directed by Martin Campbell with a script by Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim, and Michael Goldenberg from a story concept by Berlanti, Green, and Guggenheim. The film is an origin story of how Hal Jordan became part of the Green Lantern Corps as he would battle the dark force of fear known as Parallax. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Tim Robbins, Angela Bassett, Jay O. Sanders, Taika Waititi, Temuera Morrison, and the voices of Michael Clarke Duncan, Clancy Brown, and Geoffrey Rush. Green Lantern is a very typical and uninspiring superhero origin story.

When the evil force known as Parallax (Clancy Brown) has broken out of his prison in a lost planet, he goes after the Green Lantern fighter Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) of Sector 2814. Sur escapes Parallax’s wrath but is wounded as he makes his nearest destination towards Earth. Meanwhile, a test fighter pilot named Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) has caused more trouble for his longtime friend Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) during a test where he would cost several jobs. Later that night, Hal is summoned by a mysterious green light where he would meet the ailing Sur who gives him a green ring and a small lantern as he chooses Jordan to be the new Green Lantern. Sur’s body is later retrieved by the government as they call upon Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) to examine the body as he becomes exposed by a mysterious yellow substance.

After learning about the Green Lantern’s powers, Hal is transported to the planet of Oa where he would meet several Green Lanterns as he learns about the role of the Green Lanterns. Befriending Tomar-Re (Geoffrey Rush) and Kilowag (Michael Clarke Duncan), the latter of which trains him, while Hal also deals with one of the Green Lanterns’ leaders in Sinestro (Mark Strong) who feels that Hal is too weak to become part of the Green Lantern Corps. Hal returns home to Earth unsure about his role until a party celebrating Carol’s success in nabbing a contract where Hector is at the party with his father Senator Hammond (Tim Robbins) who is happy about the contract. Yet, Hector’s exposure to the yellow substance has him reading minds as he decides to take his anger out on his father by trying to crash the helicopter until Hal as a Green Lantern saves the day.

After a battle to fight Parallax fails, Sinestro goes to the Guardians to help create something that will fight Parallax while Hal learns about what is happening to Hector who has become more powerful where the two learn that Parallax is coming. With Hector already realizing what he needs to do to fight Hal, Hal goes back Oa to reveal the Guardians where Parallax is going as he asks for help. Though the Guardians and Sinestro become impressed by Hal’s will to fight, they let him return to Earth to fight alone as Hal would face Hector and the dark force that is Parallax.

The film is essentially an origin story of how a guy becomes a superhero and saves the day. It’s a story that is often told again and again in a lot of origin stories about superheroes. The big question is that does the story of the Green Lantern standout from all of the others? Not exactly. The stories about the Green Lanterns, the origin of Parallax, and how Hal Jordan became a Green Lantern are the most interesting parts of the story. It’s just that everything else including Jordan’s own issues about the death of his father (Jon Tenney), his relationship with Carol Ferris, and theme of fear vs. will isn’t that interesting. Notably the latter which is told in a very heavy-handed manner that requires a lot of exposition that overdoes itself.

The film’s screenplay is definitely the weakest aspect of the film not just in terms of following a formula but not doing enough to make the film’s central characters to be very interesting. While the Hector Hammond character doesn’t start out as a villain because he’s just a small-time college professor who feels slighted by his dad. He becomes a very cartoonish character that ends up being a patsy for Parallax who is just nothing more than a big head surrounded by dark clouds that just sucks the life of scared people and creatures. Since the film is also meant to try and appeal more than just a comic book audience, the screenwriters try to inject some humor that will appeal to much younger audience that doesn’t really work either as it tries too hard to be a lot of things for a superhero action-blockbuster.

Martin Campbell’s direction has moments that does keep the audience be engaged and into the story. There’s some interesting scenes that is well shot such as the tension between Hector and his father, Hal dealing with his own family, and some of moments in Oa where Hal is introduced to this strange world. Everything else however feels quite pedestrian of what is expected in the genre. There’s wide shots of a city that’s about to be attacked as well as very big visual effects pieces that includes the climatic battle between Hal and Parallax. None of it is boring but it doesn’t bring anything new to the superhero genre. A lot of the compositions and directing actors to do this doesn’t have anything exciting while Campbell’s approach to the humor feels very forced. The overall work is pretty mediocre as Martin Campbell ends up creating another superhero film that doesn’t do much to stand out on its own.

Cinematographer Dion Bebe does a pretty good job with the cinematography such as some of the nighttime exteriors and interiors to help set a mood though there isn’t a lot of it is very interesting. Editor Stuart Baird does decent work with the editing to play up the intensity of the action though it‘s mostly typical of what is expected in a film like this. Production designer Grant Major, along with set decorator Anne Kuljian and art director Francois Audouy, does some fine work with the set pieces created such as the contract party and offices along with the look for the sets of Oa. Costume designer Ngila Dickson does some OK work with the costumes which is notable for the look of the Green Lantern uniforms as well as the fashionable dresses of Carol.

Visual effects supervisor Karen E. Goulekas, Kent Houston, and Gregory L. McMurry do some effects work that isn‘t very good at all. A lot of it doesn’t really do any effort to make it feel more realistic while the overall presentation of the look of outer space and the planet Oa isn’t impressive as the whole look of it feels too artificial. Sound editors Karen M. Baker and Per Hallberg do some nice work with the sound effects whether it‘s the sound of jet engines and gunfire along with some of the things Hal does to fight Hector and Parallax. The film’s score by James Newton Howard is all right as it‘s just a typical score filled with bombastic orchestral arrangements with bits of guitars to add more heaviness to the music. Additional music by Joints Jumpin’ is played in the background in the film’s party scene to add a bit of jazzy entertainment to the music.

The casting by Pam Dixon is stellar for the ensemble that is created though none of them really get a chance to stand out or do anything that is memorable. Among those making appearances include Jon Tenney as Hal’s father, Gattlin Griffith as the young Hal, Jay O. Sanders as Carol’s father, and Taika Waititi as Hal’s comic relief friend Thomas Kalmaku. The voice performances by Michael Clarke Duncan and Geoffrey Rush in their respective roles as the tough trainer Kilowag and the kinder Tomar-Re are really good with Duncan providing humor and Rush being the wise one. Clancy Brown’s voice work as Parallax isn’t good as all he does is talk in a gruff voice and act all threatening. Angela Bassett in the role of Senator Hammond’s scientist aide Dr. Amanda Waller is an unremarkable one as she just plays a lackey of his where Bassett looks like she’s sleepwalking throughout the film.

Tim Robbins is OK as the ambitious Senator Hammond who feels disappointed by Hector until he is threatened by Hector’s new powers while Temuera Morrison is really good as the fearless warrior Abin Sur who gives Hal the ring. Mark Strong is excellent in the role of Green Lanterns leader Sinestro who tries to deal with Hal’s presence as well as the dark force of Parallax. Peter Sarsgaard is decent as Hector Hammond who starts off as this curious scientist only to devolve into a crazed antagonist that doesn’t really work due to the bad makeup job and Sarsgaard screaming like a girl throughout the film. Blake Lively gives a serviceable but uninspired performance as Carol Ferris where all she does is look good, act frustrated at Hal, and all sorts of things were she’s hampered by the script’s weakness but also her own performance where she doesn’t really show much range in a very typical part.

Finally, there’s Ryan Reynolds as the film’s protagonist Hal Jordan. While it’s a role that allows Reynolds to carry a film where he would display his witty charm. It’s a very disappointing performance as Reynolds doesn’t really get a chance to stretch out as he is also hampered by the film’s weak script and lackluster direction. While the Jordan character is a guy who is unsure about himself and Reynolds does allow the character to be engaging. The stuff where he has to try and emote in a very serious manner or to be a badass doesn’t really work.

Green Lantern is a very bloated film that emphasizes more on creating a visually-exciting superhero blockbuster rather than something that will allow itself to standout. Despite the efforts of Ryan Reynolds and Mark Strong, it’s a film that wants to be a lot of things to its audience. It may be watchable and at times, fun but the overall work is just unimpressive as Martin Campbell just creates something that doesn’t really do more than what the genre wants. In the end, Green Lantern is a truly terrible and uninspiring film that doesn’t do enough to entertain its audience.

Martin Campbell Films: (The Sex Thief) - (Eskimo Nell) - (Three for All) - (Criminal Law) - (Defenseless) - (Cast a Deadly Spell) - (No Escape) - (GoldenEye) - (The Mask of Zorro) - (Vertical Limit) - (Beyond Borders) - (The Legend of Zorro) - (Casino Royale (2006 film)) - (Edge of Darkness)

© thevoid99 2012


Chip Lary said...

Green Lantern was one of my more favorite comic book characters when I was a kid, so I was a little disappointed at some of the things they did in the film. The biggest one was Hal not being fearless. That was the whole point in the comic - Jordan was worthy because he was literally a man without fear. In the movie they did the same thing Thor did, which was to give the hero a character flaw he had to overcome before becoming worthy of wielding the tool (ring/hammer) he had been given.

I did think one scene was really good. It was the twist on the typical "hero meets love interest for the first time while in disguise." The scene starts out right out of Superman (1978) then Lively just nailed the more modern and savvy response.

thevoid99 said...

I didn't think scene worked. The dialogue was terrible in that one. Plus, why did every scene have Blake Lively look she came out of a modeling shoot or something. Her hair is always looking great along with her makeup. I didn't like that.

I didn't think the film was as bad as some said it was. It had its moments but I just didn't find anything to be wowed by.

Chip Lary said...

We're going to have to agree to disagree on that scene. I loved it (and frankly, have no idea what her hair looked like in it.) Like you, though, I didn't think the movie was as bad as some people made it out to be.

s. said...

Fantastic review, very honest and observant. I have no interest in seeing this movie, the trailer alone make it look awful and I think it may be one of the biggest wastes of time for Geoffrrey Russ and Mark Strong.

thevoid99 said...

@Sati-It's not a complete waste of time. Besides, I think there's worse films out there like those Fantastic Four films despite the presence of Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis who were the best thing in those films because they were entertaining and weren't trying so hard.

All of that money for all of those bad visual effects. I don't like to root against films with massive budgets but this was one of those films I couldn't really support.