Friday, June 17, 2011

Green Lantern: Spoiler Free Review

Theatrical Release
105 Minutes
Release Date: June 17, 2011
Review by: Earl Davis

A test pilot is granted a mystical green ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe.

Green Lantern holds a unique place in the comic spectrum. Possessing none of the mainstream exposure of Superman or Batman, the character’s name is none-the-less well known among the general population. Ask any man on the street and he probably won’t know the fully history of the Green Lantern Corps, but will without doubt recognize the ring. For those with geek inclinations, Green Lantern is something more. He’s not inherently strong or fast or brilliant. No alien planet spawned him. No rich parents left him a legacy. The Green Lantern’s power pours from the well-spring of imagination. He is bound only by the limits of his mind and will. He is the hero that writers and artists and creative types abound wish they could really be.

That level of “geek love” creates an inherent problem that few movies ever manage to overcome. Green Lantern stalls a little while climbing Expectation Mountain but eventually putters it’s way over the top.

Visually the movie is striking. Film makers have started following the Jon Favreau school of thought by mixing traditional affects with CGI. Because of the intergalactic and fantastical nature of the Green Lantern universe, this film goes heavier on the CGI, but does not suffer for it. Some of the powers effects and the overall design of the film’s Big Bad are breathtaking. The action sequences and imaginative uses of the ring elicited more than one “Wow” from the crowd at large.

The movie features a strong supporting cast with appearances by Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Blake Lively, and Angela Bassett. Tim Robbins even joins in the fun. On a side note, it is fascinating to me that there is character archetype, the staunch military/government official that is always filled with aging A List actors. Tommy Lee Jones, Andre Brauer, Jeff Bridges are just a few that come to mind. These supporting character add a little unique flavor to what is otherwise a standard popcorn flick. If there is one complaint in this area, it lies with Angele Bassett’s Amanda Waller character. She was underused in this film. Perhaps, she is a place holder to help tie later the later films together as Warner Bros. builds toward its Justice League movie. Marvel used a similar device with Agent Coulson.

The weakest part of the movie is its star, Ryan Reynolds. There are only a few parts in the film where Reynolds manages to disappear in the role of Hal Jordan. Most of the time, he comes across as the same smarmy guy audiences have seen in his other films. More than once, while leaving the theater, I heard viewers deliver various renditions of “It’s like Van Wilder in a costume”.

Type-casting is not the only issue with the film, however. Editing is also a major issue. At several points during action sequences, the principal character in explicably move or change blocking while off camera. I suspect that the intention was to surprise the audience when attacks or motion comes from unexpected angles. Unfortunately, this technique is handled poorly and created the feeling more akin to “How did he get over there?” This film is concrete evidence as to how important a quality editor is to a modern motion picture.

One final note about the film. WE GET IT. Ryan Reynolds works out and you need to give housewives and girlfriends reasons to watch, but I have seen entirely too much of him in his skivvies now.


It’s a good popcorn flick that will warm some geek hearts and cause some grumbling with others. You may want to stay away from opening weekend crowds, but this is one that should be seen while it’s still in the theaters.

One piece of advice though, save your cash and see it in 2D. Color is very important to this film and 3D conversion loses far too many colors.

3 out of 5 stars

1 comment:

SVen said...

Nice review, and sad for us GLC lovers. I KNEW Ryan Reynolds was going to just do the Van Wilder! He's his generation's Jim Carey - capable of interesting things, but ultimately overused for one schtick. Ah well - we can only hope someone takes up the role for John Stewart for future movies...