Movie Review: Green Lantern
By Pete Kilmer
June 20, 2011
Green Lantern is a bit of a missed opportunity that can be laid at the feet of director Martin Campbell.
Let me back up and say that Green Lantern is a decent if unspectacular super hero movie. And that’s a bit of a problem.
You can see that Time Warner wanted to follow the template of the Iron Man movie - as they should. The characters are similar types of people. Both are brash, somewhat reckless individuals who have to step up, grow up and save the world by overcoming the baggage they carry as characters. In Iron Man’s case, you have the ever engaging Robert Downey Jr. to lead us through this journey with Jon Faverau’s guidance. For the Green Lantern, you have Ryan Reynolds, who is hampered by the work of Martin Campbell.
Campbell, who directed the very well done Zorro films as well as two of my favorite Bond films in Goldeneye and Casino Royale, seems to forget that Jordan is a bit of a reckless swashbuckler. Now we do indeed get that sense of the character during the test flight when Carol Ferris and Hal Jordan fly up against two automated planes and Hal just outclasses them with his reckless flying. It’s a great scene and Reynolds pulls it off quite nicely. The problem is it’s the only time he does that. After that he’s left in a wake of self-doubt and fear, which is important, but it really drags the film down quite a bit. In fact any time the story is set on Earth and Hal is the focus, it just kind of sputters and lags. The scenes with his family don’t work at all.
Blake Lively (who is really pretty good in this) amps up whatever scene she is in. I hoped she would bring Reynolds along with her. The problem is that Reynolds was so intent in showing Hal dealing or not dealing with his self doubt that it pulled everything to a halt.
The scenes with Hector Hammond and his father are rock solid, even though it is really distracting to see Tim Robbins play a father to the Peter Saarsgard, as they are way too close in age. Their story worked just fine, even if if the confrontation between Green Lantern and Hal was a little quick to my tastes.
Where the movie really pops is when it takes place in space on the planet Oa or when Hal is dealing with the villain Parallax. Again, the movie hits a double (almost a triple here) instead of a home run. When Hal arrives on Oa to meet the Guardians and the rest of the Corps, we get some really nice sequences that fall just a little short (Killowog is completely wasted as a character. There could easily have been five more minutes of Hal training with him). Hal’s interaction with Tomar Re is rock solid. Of course, they spend a bit of time with Hal’s future enemy Sinestro, played by Mark Strong, who is excellent. Pretty much everything that happened on Oa was terrific.
When the main enemy of the film, Parallax, finally arrives on Earth, we get a final battle that again falls just a touch short from what it should have been. Parallax is a cosmic being that controls the energy Fear can provide. If you’re scared and fearful, Parallax will kill you and gain strength. What the whole movie spent time doing was telling us that Hal had a fear that he had to overcome and that the ring picked him as he showed he ability to overcome that. And what happens? Hal drags Parallax into the sun. Granted, that’s cool, but that’s all that happened! It should have been a glorious and bigger battle in space. It's just another missed opportunity.
The story itself is fine, if directed with an unspectacular flair from Campbell. When not on Oa, the story just lags along as I said.
Honestly, I liked the film, but it hits a double and plays it safe where it really needed to stretch itself into a home run. I wonder how much of that is left at the studios feet. When will the studios (who aren’t Marvel studios or director Christopher Nolan) realize we, as comic book and movie fans, want something with more meat on its bones in a movie? All the ingredients were here for something special and it just didn't quite click.
Pete Kilmer has been in the comics retail industry for ten years as a member of Downtown Comics in Indianapolis. Downtown Comics is one of the Midwest's largest comic retailers with over four locations in Indianapolis. All opinions are his own, and they cannot be bought with free swag. Beer and a walk on role on Burn Notice to steal Fiona from Michael Weston and I'm a bought man.