Green Lantern (2011) Dir. Martin Campbell
Ridiculous and stupid.
In the opening paragraph you should expect me to summarize the key points of the movie. Yet, I’d rather play a little game. If you expect to read a summary and don’t know the story, it means you have been spared from watching this movie, then proceed to (1). However, if you’re one of those unfortunate mortals who have wasted two hours of their/our precious lives to watch it, then proceed to (2).
(1) By any means do NOT watch this movie. Read the comic books instead and enjoy my review.
(2) I feel your pain: those two hours are irreversibly lost. Enjoy my review then.
Let’s start with Ryan Reynolds. It seems to me, he drew the shortest straw when he took this role. The poor guy has nothing to play whatsoever. His part boils down to showing how to spend two hours not developing his character. Sadly, the hero’s journey is a redundant concept in the views of the screenwriters. But, let’s see what we know. First, Hal Jordan is a guy with the past. He witnessed his father’s death, and… and basically his traumatic memories affect him in only one scene when he has to eject himself from a falling jet (the memories trigger the need to survive). Second, he is entrusted with a green ring, granting a great powers for any wearer: wearing cool green costume (which doesn’t look so cool), flying (not much new for Hal the living-on-the-edge jet pilot), manifesting anything you can imagine (as they say, the sky’s the limit so Hal manifests a sword or a shield during his training – so much for a vivid imagination).
Anyways, Hal takes the ring and magically feels a great responsibility all of a sudden (with great power always comes great responsibility). The backstory with the dead dad is so forgettable, it barely leaves us with an aftertaste of “I couldn’t care less.” What is truly baffling is Hal’s emotional engagement with the green ring business. Hal jumps from playing with it like it was a toy to seriously taking his training on an alien planet. Curiously, he never for a moment questions the freakishly looking alien who gives him the ring with his last breath. He never doubts or wonders whether the alien is good or bad. Without knowing anything about the alien, he accepts the ring and makes it his point of honor to step into the alien’s shoes and not to disappoint him (sorry, dead dad, you stopped to matter a few scenes earlier). It’s absurd on so many levels the list could go on.
What is worse, the creators strive to show us influences of other (far, far better) movies from the genre. Hal is definitely a Tony Stark wannabe. He’s more excited about the fact he may change his costume without the dressing/undressing part that it seems the highlight of his day when he can show off before his girl or his best friend. As for the power of manifesting or materializing whatever he imagines, it’s as poor as it gets. There’s not one surprising scene. Hal imagines such basic objects that it becomes embarrassing to watch. It merely proves how limited imagination the screenwriters have. Needless to say, they should surprise and shock us with Hal’s use of his superpowers, not discomfort us. Then, there’s Hal – a Batman wannabe. With very poor effect, he tries to live a double life: a normal guy and a superhero, two in one. When he’s in his costume and mask, the very mask covering only his eyes, he actually believes he’s gonna be more attractive for girls. The one girl he wants recognizes him in an instant and doesn’t seem impressed. Sorry, Hal, there’s nothing like those bat ears. So, why does he need an ID-concealing mask if anyone can recognize him anyway?
Since I’ve mentioned the girl twice already, I’m gonna torment her a little. Carol, played by Blake Lively, is by far the dumbest and most boring female characters I’ve recently had the “pleasure” to see. She is supposed to introduce a romantic plot, but the only thing she does successfully is to bore us to the point of irritation. I actually believe watching scenes with her can cause severe brain damage. If only she was like Freida Pinto’s character in the Rise of the Planet of the Apes – a quiet, insignificant shadow of the protagonist – but no, Carol is all over the place. And it’s all thanks to not-so-lovely Blake Lively, whose acting skills and passion for her character should place her a number one contender for the Oscar. Lively in an un-lively way perfected a technique of playing with solely one facial expression. To my horror, I realized she’s so dull she makes watching Megan Fox in Transformers a blast. She doesn’t compare to Fox one bit. Plus, the love story between Carol and Hal is thin, bland, and wishy-washy beyond words.
As far as the words are concerned, the dialogues fail every time a character says something. The screenwriters should go back to school (or a working camp for a punishment), for they exhaust all possible clichés and platitudes there are. Nothing the characters say conveys any importance or gravity. They shouldn’t talk at all, but even this wouldn’t save this movie. As for the story, the screenwriters cannot decide what they want to focus on so they focus on everything. In result, there are many underdeveloped threads, which make the plot being hacked into tiny pieces of the most boring and unconvincing mincemeat ever.
What about the main villain? Well, for the better part of the movie, there’s none. Then, there emerge a few villains until they make room for the biggest and ugliest villain for Hal to fight against. At first, Mark Strong’s character, Sinestro, suggests he may be the villain. With a bitter look on his face (which never seems to leave him), he is portrayed as an ambiguous person. He contradicts Hal, and stands in his way to become a well-respected Green Lantern. Yet, after some time, he has a change of heart, and helps Hal (still, the bitter look on his face). Unfortunately, Mark Strong has no material to work with. While the plot thickened (or rather was stretched thinner and thinner), I transferred my attention (or at least, what was left of it) to Hector Hammond, Peter Sarsgaard’s character. A stereotypical mad scientist, he obviously needs to be a bad guy, who not only becomes physically deformed and automatically unattractive for Carol, but also evil-intended. As for his intentions, it’s hard to say what he wants. He stands in Hal’s way at some point, but he gets pretty quickly swept from the face of the earth (literally) that it’s not enough to dub him the villain. Plus, the writers create him to be a conflicting character, who in an almost metaphysical way turns against his own father (Tim Robbins), who might be one of the contenders for the villain himself.
So who are we left with? Ah, yes, the big, ugly, soul-devouring monster from the outer space. Since the final battle happens between the monstrous Parallax and Hal, he has to be the villain. Parallax is supposed to instill fear in all living beings to the point of their death. Sadly, he’s so pathetic he wouldn’t scare a 5 year old. He’s the proof of the tragic and unimaginative use of CGI. By the way, the movie is so packed with CGI that it at times resembles a video game. It’d probably turn out better if it was a game, not a movie. The whole computer sequences take us light years back behind such productions like Thor, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, or Tron: Legacy (I can’t believe I’d praise this movie especially that I’m the one who criticized it so much. After Green Lantern, I stand corrected.)
My final comment? Green Lantern is a yawning spree that could be characterized as fake, absurd, and dull. I find nothing appealing there that could pass for a reason enough to watch this movie. The only mitigating circumstance would be treating the movie as a test of our strong will either not to fall asleep or abandon it in the middle. In this case, I suppose I can feel proud. I have not merely endured: I prevailed.
Long days, pleasant nights,