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.