I had hopes for this film – no really, I did. I ignored naysayers who disliked the thought of Ryan Reynolds in a CGI costume, thinking that this might be DC’s own Iron Man — that flagship film that sets the tone for future DC comic movies. That was not the case.
Green Lantern stars Reynolds as Hal Jordan, a hotshot test pilot who doesn’t have some personal aspects of his life together, but has just about everything else going for him. When the dying Lantern Abin Sur gives Hal the ring saying that it chose him for the GL Corp, Hal struggles with the responsibility of being a cosmic powered super hero. Supposedly.
Let’s be honest here, I couldn’t connect with any of the characters for a variety of reasons. For Hal, it was because the writing paid lip service to characterization and did nothing to make him sympathetic. For Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), it was compounded by poor acting. I mean, if this is to be the face of Star Sapphire, DC is in for an even ruder box office awakening. For Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard), it’s because the film spends zero time establishing him as a person before making him into the antagonist’s lackey.
Going into this film, I accepted the CGI uniform, the world of Oa, and the flashy ring effects. I mean, the Ring allows a person to turn thought into reality through force of will. That’s god-like power, right there, and because it’s all energy based I can deal with things like a glowy superhero costume. The problem is that the emphasis in the making of this film was placed on special effects and battles and not on character.
In addition, the poor pacing of the movie led to a number of ideas and concepts being completely wasted. Angela Basset and her secret government organization are used as window dressing for a Stargate-like device that’s about as effective as a machine that goes “ping.” (And shame on the director and writers for wasting Basset’s talent.) There’s Hal demonstrating the ring needs charged just so he can show off to a friend — the limited power of the ring never comes up again. I had a third example where Chekov’s Gun doesn’t go off, but the movie is forgettable enough to allow me to have lost track of it. That should tell you something.
Thor showed the movie going audience that you can have a superhero film with a demi-god protagonist and lots of fancy visuals and have not only a solid character arc, but also a heroine/female love interest that doesn’t become a damsel in distress. I can’t blame Reynolds for Green Lantern’s failure to grasp these concepts. The man is just working with what he’s given. I can blame the writing and directing for giving us characters we cannot relate to, and for giving us a “Save the world with first level heroes” plot, a device I loathe with a passion.
With the exception of Batman, and then more by Nolan’s hand than by Burton’s, DC seems to continually miss the mark in making good film adaptations of their comics. What they lack is essentially a big picture that’s brought by greater editorial control of their property. Marvel did that, and their movies have been spectacular. DC doesn’t seem cognizant of that fact and as a result, their films suffer, as lack of caring rolls downhill into a director’s lap.
Green Lantern may not be terrible, but it’s not good either. I can’t even call it a good popcorn movie. What I will call it, however, is another nail in the coffin of ever seeing a Justice League film.