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June 24, 2011
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Green Lantern Review

So yeah, I just saw Green Lantern last night and I decided to write a review of it.

Overall I thought it was...okay. It wasn't great though and if DC thinks this will lead into a Justice League movie I think they're sadly mistaken. Here's some of the notes I took as I was watching (spoilers ahoy).

- I have mixed feelings about the look of the non-cg alien characters like Sinestro or Abin Sur. They fell into a trap I've seen with a lot of scifi films where the skin of alien characters is obviously a rubber prosthesis. Abin Sur especially had this problem. His head looked like a Halloween mask. I think they would've been better off just casting a bald guy and slapping some purple-pink body paint on him. Sinestro was a little better than Abin Sur but I could still see where the actor's real head ended and the rubber parts began.

- I'm not crazy about Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan. He wasn't bad, but I still have to cringe at the casting choice. Ryan Reynolds is great at playing wise-cracking pretty boys, and on some level Hal Jordan is a wise-cracking pretty boy, but he's also supposed to be a bit of a stiff neck. Remember, this character was originally an Air Force pilot. Reynolds got the wise-cracks, the womanizing, and the arrogance of Hal down, but I didn't see anything in his performance that said "this guy is ex-military". They should've cast someone with more gravitas than Ryan Reynolds. I'm just saying, if they make a Green Lantern 2 and Hal Jordan gets mysteriously recast with no explanation, I for one won't be shedding any tears over it.

- Another thing about Hal's character: I didn't like some of the things they used to establish his "fearlessness". I think the first thing they do is show him speeding down the road in his T-Bird (I think) with both hands off the wheel so he can wrap a present (that we later learn is for his nephew). But then they ruin it by having him slam on the brakes just in time to keep from rear-ending another car. This scene says "reckless" to me, not "fearless". I'll grant you that taking your hands off the wheel while driving is a pretty reckless thing to do, but having him drive his car "no-hands" and not almost get into an accident would have been much more effective in my opinion. It gives the impression that even though Hal does some damn reckless things it's okay because he's just that good.

- I enjoyed some of the subtler references to the comics. Like Hal's "Highball" call sign, the reference to planet Ryut, the way Abin Sur's GL uniform melts away once he gives Hal the ring, etc. But I think they're going to be very confusing to someone not familiar with the comics. Comic fans have had literally decades to get accustomed to the Green Lantern mythos so when we hear Sinestro talking about "traces of Yellow Power" we know what that means and it feels appropriately ominous to us. But to someone who's never read the comics before, "Yellow Power" probably sounds ridiculous.

- Speaking of references, a lot of them are dropped on the audience via exposition. Particularly at the beginning where the movie literally speaks at you to explain the things you need to know about the Corps, Parallax, Abin Sur, and etc. As a comic nerd I have a pretty high tolerance for exposition, but I'm concerned about how non-comic fans will respond to this.

- I didn't like the way they changed the circumstances of the death of Hal's father. In the comics Hal's dad was a test pilot who died in a crash landing of an experimental plane. The plane took off, flew around for a while, then the engines caught fire as it came in for a landing and Hal's dad deliberately chose not to eject to keep the plane from veering into the crowd. Hal himself was in the crowd and watched his father crash and die. In the movie they changed it so the engine burst into flame a second or two after takeoff and Hal's dad survived the crash landing but was killed when the plane exploded on the tarmac. This death, while admittedly dramatic and shocking, has a different effect than the comics. In the comics seeing his dad intentionally sacrifice his own life to protect the people in the crowd has a profound effect on Hal because his father died a fearless hero. In the movie, the cause of his father's death is essentially dumb luck.

- The sequence with the fancy-schmancy AI jets near the beginning was so cliched I could barely watch it without snickering. "It has all the flying and combat capability of a human pilot, but none of the human error that comes with it." Jesus Christ, did you crib that line from Stealth? Speaking of which, really movie? AI fighter jets? Let's assume for the moment that these AI fighter jets really can do all the things the mind of a human pilot can do. That means it can do things like guesstimate risk, make arbitrary judgment calls and intuitive decisions, and etc., all on the fly (so to speak). If you really invented AI that can do this, why are you putting it to work flying fighter jets of all things? Why aren't these AIs being put in charge of military computer databases? Or the stock market? There are literally countless other applications for true artificial intelligence but apparently the only thing these AIs were built for was to fly fighter jets. Why?

- Speaking of the robot jet sequence, this was another scene that tried to paint Hal Jordan as "fearless" but ultimately failed. In order to defeat the robot jets Hal first has to use his wingman as a decoy (which for the purposes of the simulation means she gets shot down). Then he climbs straight up until both he and the robot jets stall out and he takes them both out as all three planes are tumbling to the ground. While Hal is still tumbling toward the ground and he starts having a spontaneous flashback about the death of his father which somehow distracts him so much that he fails to pull out of the tailspin and has to eject, leaving his plane to smash into the ground. Again, this would have been a great scene if they hadn't ruined it in two specific ways. First, Hal should never have intentionally sacrificed his own wingman. Ever. If this had been a real combat situation he would have gotten that other pilot killed. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen! He cares nothing for the lives of his comrades and is willing to deliberately sacrifice their lives to make himself look cool! Bullshit. Hal's wingman should have been brought down in spite of Hal's best efforts, not because of them. Second, this scene should have ended with Hal dramatically pulling out of his tailspin at the last possible second and victoriously flown back to the airbase without a scratch on his plane. That would have made him seem fearless. The way it is, it just seems like he has deep-seated psychological issues. The man went into a catatonic stupor for almost a minute and a half. How the Hell did he even get cleared to fly a plane in the first place?! GAAH!

- The scene after the robot jet scene was almost as aggravating as the robot jet scene itself. Hal says that he proved the robot jets weren't good enough and some douche bag business guy (I missed his name) basically says Hal proved nothing because no pilot is going to crash his own plane. Hal's response is, and I quote, "I did." Really Hal? Is the fact that you crashed your plane supposed to prove something? That the only way an enemy will defeat these robot jets is if each of their pilots does a suicide run and crashes his own jet in the process? So basically, the only way for another nation to defeat a US Air Force made up of robot jets is to sacrifice their entire Air Force at the same time. This is why I say the movie should have had Hal pull out of the stall and fly home unscathed. If he had defeated the robot jets and brought his own plane back without a scratch, THAT would prove the robot jets can't measure up to a human pilot. As it is, it just comes off stupid. The end of this scene does kind of imply that Hal wrecked his plane on purpose because he wanted to be fired, but if that's what the filmmakers were going for why didn't they just write in a ONE PUNCH! scene instead?

- The scene when Hal drops by his nephew's birthday party as his brothers are watching the news report on the crash was stupid…but in a good way. Here's what happens: Hal enters the house and sees his brothers watching the news. His brothers are very somber and worried because the news reporter is giving that standard spiel about "We are told that Hal Jordan is doing fine but we have yet to hear an official statement from Ferris Air" which of course makes the brothers think Hal is in critical condition, possibly even dead, and Ferris Air is trying to sit on the bad news as long as possible. This is a completely stupid scene. There is no reason for Ferris Air to wait to give an official statement saying their pilot is alive and well, and the unmitigated sensationalism of the news broadcast was ridiculous. But I loved this scene anyway. What makes this scene great is at the exact moment the sensationalist news reporter emphasizes the "no official statement" thing, Hal walks into the kitchen as casual as you please and says "Hey guys" as he goes to grab some milk from the fridge (which he drinks directly from the carton of course). That was fucking hilarious. That was such a Hal Jordan thing to do I wouldn't be surprised if they took that scene right out of one of the comics. I also liked how immediately after Hal walks in the older brother chews him out for being so reckless and asks Hal if he wants to die just like their dad did. That bit of dialogue basically is ripped right out of the comics, and I admit it made me squee just a little bit. XD

- The scene where Hal gets picked up by the green energy bubble and taken to Abin Sur's side kinda bugs me. First, when he gets picked up off the street it's the middle of the afternoon and the sun is shining brightly. But then fifteen seconds later after the green energy bubble spits him out near Abin Sur's spaceship it's the dead of night. WTF? Did he get dragged across several time zones to where it was already night time? No, that can't be it because then how did his friend Thomas Kalmaku drive over and pick him up? The only explanation is that the green energy bubble took like 3-5 hours to drag Hal back to Abin Sur. But then right after Abin Sur dies Hal calls up Tom and tells him to drive over and pick Hal up. It's still dark when Tom arrives and it's still dark a little while later when we see Hal playing with the ring in his own apartment. So are we meant to believe that Tom's jeep is faster than a Green Lantern ring? Bullshit. Second, I found it awfully convenient that government helicopters show up at the crash site mere moments after Tom arrives to pick Hal up. Seriously? Right that second? They didn't show up a few hours or a few minutes before Hal arrived or after he left? And they didn't see the jeep with its lights on in the dead of night speeding away from the alien crash site? Really movie??

- Why do the Guardians of the Universe sit on chairs on top of giant columns on top of an impossibly tall building? In the comics they spend their time in a room inside their fortress keeping watch over a holographic map of the universe. Why the movie chose such a bizarre interpretation I'll never know.

- For some reason the guy who played Hector Hammond bugged the shit out of me. I don't know why. Fortunately he got a lot better after he transformed.

- The scene of Hal Jordan spazzing around trying to figure out the Green Lantern oath was pointless and stupid and should have been edited out of the damn movie.

- I am soooo glad they took the mask off GL really quick. It's just one of those things that works on the page in a comic book but looks fucking ridiculous in live action.

- Even though I found his makeup unconvincing, I thought the character of Sinestro was very well done. The actor playing him (whose name escapes me) did a very very good job playing him and whenever I read a Green Lantern comic in the future I have no doubt I will be hearing his voice narrating Sinestro's dialogue.

- Kilowog and Tomar Re were in this movie for exactly two reasons. Exposition and more exposition. It's a travesty.

- I'm not sure I like the design of Parallax. It was kinda cool and more believable than the "Giant Yellow Space Bug" design from the comics, but it was a lot of dark brown and not enough yellow in my opinion.

- Sinestro's start down the road to evil was extremely stupid. All he got was a brief scene where he says the Corps has to harness the power of fear, and then a post-credits scene where he puts on the Yellow Lantern ring. I'll grant you that the comics did have several decades to set up his turn to evil and the movie only had about an hour and a half, but this was very clumsy. I'm disappointed.
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:iconladyarianrhod:
LadyArianrhod Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2011
I'd just like to say a few things. I have NEVER read a DC or Marvel comic book. Not a single one. And definitely not Green Lantern. I went with my boyfriend, mainly because he has read at least some of the Green Lantern comics, and I knew if I didn't understand something he'd be able to explain it. However, I didn't have to ask him a single question throughout the entire movie.

As I watched the movie, it actually all made a lot of sense to me. Like the fact that they don't really establish Hal is REALLY fearless. It's kind of a he-needs-to-face-his-fears kind of thing. I enjoyed that quite a bit.

The AI jets scene, while done before, was actually really neat to watch, and it did a great job of establishing that Hal was a fantastic pilot.

Also, I'm sure the producers and director and whatnot took a few liberties when creating the character, and planets and what-have-you, but that's what Hollywood does. Keep in mind that this movie was geared not just to readers of the comic book, but toward those who'd never even heard of DC at all (as well as the in-between people like me). They had to make sure those of us who hadn't read the comics would understand what was going on.

As for the scene where Hal stumbles through figuring out the Oath: it's called comic relief. Movies like this one need a few spots that are just kinda funny so the audience doesn't get too caught up in the drama and whatnot. Same goes for the scene with Kilowog and Tomar Re.

And I guess you weren't really paying attention to Hector Hammond, because while at first he was kind of on his own, by about halfway through the movie, Parallax was actually speaking to him. In the end, Parallax was controlling him.

You were right in a few cases, like with the mask. It did kind of look stupid. It came down way too far on his nose and just made him look like a goober. I would know; I'm dating a goober, lol.

(BTW, sorry if this sounds bitchy. I don't mean it to be, lol. Please don't get offended or whatever) ♥

One more thing: Ryan Reynolds probably wasn't the best choice for the role of Hal, but damn does that GL suit look good on his ass, lol. Just sayin'.
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:icondoornik1142:
Doornik1142 Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2011
"As I watched the movie, it actually all made a lot of sense to me. Like the fact that they don't really establish Hal is REALLY fearless. It's kind of a he-needs-to-face-his-fears kind of thing. I enjoyed that quite a bit."

I didn't say it was a bad character moment. What I meant was that it wasn't appropriate for Hal Jordan's character. The essence of Hal Jordan's character since the beginning of the Silver Age was that he is a man without fear. He faced his worst fear when he watched his father die. This movie made him seem like he has a death wish, which isn't consistent with the comics at all. Even if they have to fudge the exact sequence of events when transitioning to live action they should at least get the character's motivation right.

"The AI jets scene, while done before, was actually really neat to watch, and it did a great job of establishing that Hal was a fantastic pilot."

I don't know about that. The alleged invincible nature of the robot jets was kind of an informed skill. The movie tells us that they've beaten any human pilot who goes up against them but doesn't actually show us. And of course, the fact that Jordan has to sacrifice both his wingman and his own plane to bring them down kind of undercuts his "fantastic" piloting skills. Like I said, it would've been better if he had brought his own plane back without a scratch.

"Also, I'm sure the producers and director and whatnot took a few liberties when creating the character, and planets and what-have-you, but that's what Hollywood does. Keep in mind that this movie was geared not just to readers of the comic book, but toward those who'd never even heard of DC at all (as well as the in-between people like me). They had to make sure those of us who hadn't read the comics would understand what was going on."

If you're referring to the whacky chairs the Guardians sit on, there's a difference between taking creative liberties and just being flat-out weird. I don't see any reason why the Guardians couldn't hold their meetings in an appropriately awe-inspiring indoor amphitheater or something. Having them sit on giant pole-chairs just makes me wonder what happens when it rains on Oa. Do they all whip out little umbrellas?

If you mean the copious amounts of exposition, I still think there must have been a way to make it work without all that. If they had just simplified the story a bit it would have gone a lot better. Leave the battles against the invincible cosmic horrors for the sequel and just make it an Earth-bound story of Green Lantern vs Hector Hammond.

"As for the scene where Hal stumbles through figuring out the Oath: it's called comic relief."

Comic relief is funny. This scene wasn't funny. It was stupid. I felt embarrassed for the actor. They should have treated the scene with the dignity it deserved and left the comedy for another time.

Also, about Tomar Re and Kilowog: My problem there isn't that their scenes were too comical. My problem is they had so little screen time. Kilowog especially should have had at least as much screen time as Sinestro but he's introduced and forgotten in less than five minutes.

"And I guess you weren't really paying attention to Hector Hammond, because while at first he was kind of on his own, by about halfway through the movie, Parallax was actually speaking to him. In the end, Parallax was controlling him."

That wasn't Parallax speaking to him, that was Hector reading other people's minds. If the filmmakers meant to imply that Parallax was controlling him then I'm afraid they failed at that task because I didn't get that impression at all.
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:icontracemem:
TraceMem Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Yeah, I can understand your opinions of most of those. Still, it's nice to know who the villain is going to be when I get a chance to see it. And let's face it, no matter how you slice it, yellow is still a rather silly-sounding weakness even when you know the reason behind it.

Personally, I hope this doesn't hurt Ryan Reynold's career too much. I hear he's still up for a role as Deadpool, who seems like a much better fit for him.
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:icondoornik1142:
Doornik1142 Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2011
"Still, it's nice to know who the villain is going to be when I get a chance to see it."

Actually now that you mention it that's another thing that bugged me about this movie. It seemed like they couldn't decide who the main villain was supposed to be. They kinda split the difference between Hector Hammond and Parallax. Which would've been fine if the two of them were working together, but they weren't. They were just two vaguely antagonistic characters (if you can even call Parallax a character) that menace Hal Jordan toward the end of the movie.
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:icontracemem:
TraceMem Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Did they work together in the comics?
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:icondoornik1142:
Doornik1142 Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2011
Not originally. In the comics Hammond was mutated by a piece of a meteor that "evolved" him into a more advanced being. I didn't mind that they created a connection between Parallax and Hector Hammond in this movie but they did nothing with it.

Honestly I think it would've been better if they had just made this movie Green Lantern vs. Hector Hammond and left Parallax in the background.
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:icontracemem:
TraceMem Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I could see that working. Parallax sending the meteor to Hammond and mutating him to weaken the Green Lanterns with its evil yellow power before recruiting Sinestro and making a bigger presence in a follow-up movie.
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