Josh Wilding Reviews: Green Lantern 3D

So, was it really as bad as the critics claim? Or is the movie as good as Thor and X-Men: First Class? Hit the jump for my in-depth and spoiler free review...

Reviews Opinion

Hal Jordan is a gifted and cocky test pilot, but the Green Lanterns have little respect for humans, who have never harnessed the infinite powers of the ring before. But Hal is clearly the missing piece to the puzzle, and along with his determination and willpower, he has one thing no member of the Corps has ever had: humanity. With the encouragement of fellow pilot and childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris, if Hal can quickly master his new powers and find the courage to overcome his fears, he may prove to be not only the key to defeating Parallax...he will become the greatest Green Lantern of all.

While I’ve made the upmost effort to ensure there is nothing in this review which qualifies as a spoiler, if you want to know nothing about the movie before it’s released across the world over the next few days, you may want to turn away now!

As I write this, Green Lantern currently has a rating of 23% on Rotten Tomatoes, and as you already know, the majority of comments from critics have so far not been at all good. With the involvement of comic book writing superstar Geoff Johns and director Martin Campbell (best known for hit James Bond movie, Casino Royale) it seemed like Green Lantern simply couldn't go wrong with creative talent like that behind it. So did it? Well, yes. It went horribly, horribly wrong. It’s certainly not the worst comic book movie ever made, but it’s not far off.

The problem with Green Lantern is the script. It’s a mess. The fact is, far too much of the movie takes place on Earth. While this is a necessity to some extent, the inclusion of Hector Hammond as a villain results in too much of the running time being spent setting him up as a threat. Between this and a substantial portion of Green Lantern developing the (mostly unconvincing) relationship between Hal and Carol, far too many sacrifices are made for what should have really been prioritised. And that is Oa. Hal’s induction to the Corps and subsequent training takes place in what feels like less than 15 minutes, and I for one would have been far happier exploring more of that world than the generic looking Coast City. Let down by some surprisingly poor creative decisions, I’m baffled at how so much of this movie went wrong when the man who once again made Hal Jordan one of DC’s most popular characters, Geoff Johns, was supposed to be involved. It’s not all bad though, and I for one really enjoyed Green Lantern in parts. There are some really exciting and well-paced action scenes, and the final battle in particular was impressive and showed just how much potential there was for this to be an epic addition to the comic book movie genre. A prime example of how badly handled aspects of this movie were, is the after credits scene. While undeniably exciting to see from a comic book fans perspective, it made literally no sense and felt tacked on simply for the sake of it. While I can think of ways they could carry on from this decision in a sequel, it really cheapens what is an important moment and would surely have little to no impact unless they found a very clever way of handling it further down the line. This is just one of many decisions in the script which will leave hard-core fans angry and regular moviegoers confused. Normally at this point, I’d go into detail about the director. Well, there’s really not all that much point talking about Martin Campbell’s contribution to Green Lantern as it could have been directed by anyone! There are some truly epic and exciting scenes, but for the most part, it’s all exactly what you’d expect from this sort of movie. I’m not saying he did a bad job, but I expected better from the man who helmed Casino Royale and there were no stand out moments which really left me overly impressed. In fact, I really don’t think the fact he’s not returning to helm the possible sequel will upset anyone after watching this. Oh, and the score? Well, it’s far from an epic soundtrack to a movie which has been compared by its makers to Star Wars!

Thankfully, Ryan Reynolds manages to save the day with a great performance as Hal Jordan. Unfortunately, this is only for about 75% of the movie. The other 25% sees him being incredibly irritating, cracking off lame joke after lame joke. This is by no means the actors fault, and he does his best with the material he has to work with. While there are a handful of genuinely funny moments, the majority feel forced, over the top, and in many instances, unnecessary. I get that Reynolds is a funny guy, but you’ve only got to take a look at Buried to see that he’s capable of doing more than making wisecracks. This was a real shame, but there is no doubt in my mind that they made the right decision by casting him in this role. Many actors wouldn’t have made it through the cringe inducing moments I describe above, but he thankfully manages to even make them tolerable. It’s just a shame that the creative forces behind Green Lantern found it necessary to throw joke after joke his way. Blake Lively as Carol Ferris was one of the weakest points of the movie for me in terms of acting. I enjoyed her performance in The Town last year a great deal, and that led me to believe she had some decent acting chops. Apparently not. Unconvincing as a woman who runs a company, and incredibly stiff sounding while reeling off her lines, she fails in every way possible to do the character justice. While Lively serves her purpose as a love interest for the lead character, that’s all about she does do, and there is no way she’d be capable of handling a more advanced role like Star Sapphire in any possible future instalments of this franchise. It was a big mistake to put here opposite an actor as skilled as Ryan Reynolds as it only serves to show how inferior her skills are…at least they have some chemistry, which was a bonus of sorts. However, Lively’s performance is award worthy when compared to the laughably awful contribution of Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond. Underdeveloped and unconvincing, it’s hard to give a damn about his motivations or (extremely rushed) descent into villainy. The comic book version of the character is hardly up there with the likes of Magneto and Loki, but at least feels threatening. We barely see the big screen version use his powers, and apart from learning that he has some daddy issues, Hammond is just paper thin and rather pointless for the most part. The make-up effects could have looked sinister, but the hammy, over the top and silly performance by Sarsgaard resulted in the character as a whole coming across as amusingly bad. To be fair, he does have a handful of decent scenes, but remains unimpressive throughout. The supporting cast are barely even worth mentioning. Taika Waititi as Tom is decent, but forgettable. Tim Robbins as Senator Hammond is stiff, boring and does a poor job of playing what should be an important part of Hector’s backstory. Angela Basset as Amanda Waller meanwhile is a glorified extra, with a handful of pointless and unrevealing lines.

Thank God for Mark Strong! The British actor is superb as Sinestro, and everything from his stance to facial expressions convey the complex comic book character in a perfectly subtle fashion. Again, it’s just a massive shame he’s so underused and poorly handled. The scenes between Strong and Ryan Reynolds as Hal are electrifying, but there are just not enough of them! Unfortunately, the relationship between the two is barely examined and the movie suffers a great deal because of this. His motives make little to no sense…one minute he wants the Corps to face Parallax head on, and the next is happy for Hal to do so alone! Regardless, he does a great job and is without a doubt one of the most memorable parts of Green Lantern. The same simply cannot be said for the rest of the Corps. Geoffrey Rush is a fitting choice to provide the vocals for Tomar-Re. Just don’t expect to see or hear much more from him than what we’ve already seen in the trailers and TV spots. His role is extremely limited, and this results in the character feeling somewhat pointless. With no clear personality, Rush simply reels off a series of lines to explain a few points to both Hal and the audience. I hate to say it, but Kilowog doesn’t really fare much better. Again, his role is extremely limited and he has little to do in the movie apart from a handful of incredibly brief and rushed scenes on Oa. Michael Clarke Duncan does a good job with the voice and helps to bring the tough as nails Corps member to life, but anyone could have done the same with the little material he had to work with. And what about the rest of the Corps? CGI extras. No lines, no personality and no point. It’s understandable that they couldn’t give them all a voice, but some group scenes where they discussed Hal joining the Corps or were even a part of his training would have been nice. Anyway, considering they pretty much all have blink and you’ll miss it cameos, those of you with kids probably won’t need to worry about them asking for the numerous action figures! Temuera Morrison didn't really have a lot more to do as Abin Sur that what we've already seen, but I enjoyed his short amount of screen time as he did exactly what was required as good as could possibly be hoped for. The Guardians of Oa are also relegated to a rather minimal role. Sure, they have a few lines, but play such a small part in the movie, it’s hard to even talk that much about them. Again, I wasn’t expecting to get to know them, but a couple of forgettable scenes between them, Hal and Sinestro did nothing for me. Oh, and let us not forget Parallax! Quite possibly the biggest mistake since Fox decided to turn Galactus into a cloud, I cannot get my head around the decision to change the frightening fear entity from his monstrous comic book appearance to a big brown lump with a face. There are so many superior ways they could of handled his possession of Krona (another underdeveloped villain who’s “motivations” are explained in a brief 30 second monologue) by Parallax, it’s devastating to think this is the best they could come up with for a huge budget movie. Hell, this is more of a confusing merging of the two than anything else, and an overall big mistake. Clancy Brown’s voice work is underwhelming. A typical monster voice and a half dozen generic lines. Meh.

I’m pleased to report that they pretty much nailed the CGI in Green Lantern. Hal’s suit looks stunning. Crackling with energy, and a beautifully vibrant shade of green, it was a pleasure to behold on the big screen. The mask has also been perfected (which I’m sure many of you will be pleased to hear) and the trailers just do not do it justice. The same can also be said for the suits worn by Sinestro, Tomar-Re and Kilowog. That extra $9 million was money well spent it seems! As with the costumes, the constructs are all well done and only fall flat in a blatant piece of product placement by Hot Wheels. The race track construct is extremely silly and in many respects, childish. I was extremely disappointed to find that there really aren’t too many more that what we’ve already seen in the trailers and TV spots, but the movies final battle thankfully does contain a few exciting surprises! However, the actual aliens don’t end up looking anywhere near as good. I can’t really complain about Tomar-Re, but Kilowog just looks unfinished. The CGI on him certainly isn’t awful, just bad enough to be somewhat distracting at points. The Guardians meanwhile look like they’ve just stepped out of a video game. While we obviously know that the aliens of are all brought to life with technology, the majority (in the crowd scenes for example) look believable and as impressive as Tomar-Re. These guys just stand out as clearly being CGI creations, and I felt like I was watching an animated movie for the first two or three minutes of Green Lantern! While Parallax may be a poor portrayal of the comic book character, he is in fact convincingly brought to life, and let down only by that giant face every now and again. Regardless of whether it’s on Earth or in space, the visual effects are for the most part, very good. Oa isn’t quite as impressive as Asgard (c’mon, the comparison to Thor in that respect was inevitable!) but looks suitably appealing for the few brief scenes which take place there. Speaking of comparisons, the 3D was better than Thor, but not as good as The Green Hornet. Conversions are far from perfect, and nothing has so far managed to match the visual might of Avatar, but Green Lantern does an admirable job in the world of post converted movies. However, I would say that it’s far from essential to see the movie in this format as it added very little to the overall viewing experience for me despite helping to add some extra depth to the space set scenes. If you don’t mind spending the extra few bucks, I would probably see it in 3D as I’m simply not sure just how good some of the less than impressive CGI would look in 2D.

The fact that Green Lantern is such a disappointment is extremely upsetting, especially as I've become a big fan of the character over the past twelve months. Its potential to be so much better is the worst thing, and the fact that it doesn't even manage to achieve being brainless fun like the Transformers franchise is a crushing blow. However, there are some glimmers of hope scattered throughout, and I find myself hoping that it manages to make enough at the box office in order to justify a sequel. Taking the views of critics and fans alike will hopefully result in a possible follow up reaching the impressive heights which are all too brief in the cinematic debut of Green Lantern. There are plenty of petty niggles I could point put from a fans point of view, but we all expect such different things from these adaptations, I'll leave that up to you. Despite some of my harsher criticisms towards the movie, I can think of far worse ways of spending an evening at the cinema. Give it a fair chance, but don't be too surprised if you don't like what you find. While I try to avoid rating movies with 1/2 scores, Green Lantern simply isn’t bad enough for 2* and not good enough for 3*. It’s somewhere in-between. An all-round average comic book movie.

In a year of great comic book movies which kicked off with the surprisingly fun flick, The Green Hornet and was followed by the superb Thor and X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern just cannot measure up. While not as bad as the likes of Elektra and Fantastic Four, I can only hope this movie gets better when watched again rather than worse. Saved by some great performances and CGI, let down by a bad script and poor creative decisions, Green Lantern really could have been much better.

With an all star cast which includes Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, Blake Lively as Carol Ferris and Mark Strong as Sinestro, director Martin Campbell's Green Lantern is set to be released in 3D on June 17, later this month!

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