The Wheel and Axle

Just Green and Bear It

by on Jun.19, 2011, under Film & TV, Geeky

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I was never a fan of Hal Jordan, the Silver Age Green Lantern. When I was growing up as a huge fan of DC comics, he bored me. He wasn’t awful or anything, he was still a staple of my Super Friends formative years, but he did nothing for me. I didn’t dislike him; I just didn’t like him. The Big Three (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) were always portrayed as “too perfect,” but I found them fascinating.

GL was okay but bland to me. Mind, I later heard he was good in the GL/GA 70’s stories, but aside from that, what I read were never enough to make me follow him. I found other Green Lanterns worthier of my time. Then, in the 90’s, Hal was replaced by the infinitely more interesting Kyle Rayner.

Is it any wonder, then, that the Hal of the recently-released Green Lantern movie has shades of Kyle? Not a clone, but just enough to inject personality in the character that he never had until recent years when Geoff Johns tried to make Hal riveting.

Ryan's costume was made entirely of CGI. Ladies, draw your own conclusions.

Ryan’s costume was made entirely of CGI. Ladies, draw your own conclusions.

And unfortunately, when I watch Ryan Reynolds – I see Kyle, not Hal. Well, actually, when I watch Ryan Reynolds, I see Wally West, but that’s a different story altogether. Was Ryan Reynolds a bad casting choice? Not per se, he was very good, but he just doesn’t say Hal Jordan to me.

In any case, the Green Lantern film was passable. Adequate, but not enough to sustain multiple viewings (assuming we are re-watching it for the plot and not for Ryan Reynolds prancing about half-naked). It was a good set-up for the franchise, and certainly I’m intrigued at seeing the sequel, but I guess Hector Hammond was not an engaging enough villain, even if he was awesomely portrayed by Peter Sarsgaard.

The use of Parallax (with a revised backstory) was also too “early” in the franchise, not to mention that its destruction was just a WTF idea, if you actually read the comics. At least it didn’t look like a giant yellow grasshopper, though; points to the movie.

Perhaps they should have dropped hints of Carol Ferris’ future (assuming they plan to go there). Of course, thinking about this made me realize what a bummer life Hal Jordan has when his loved ones and mentors and friends turn into villains, but there you have it.

“Do I freakin’ look like Angela Bassett to you?!”

There is also the gross misuse and miscasting of Amanda Waller. This lady, powerless as she is, is the biggest badass bitch to work for the side of sorta-good in the DCU – and we get Angela Bassett, who is a third of Amanda’s size and, worse, without Amanda’s teeth. Angela is a good actress, just to be clear, but she’s no Amanda Waller. Making Amanda Waller so visually different from her comic book origins also dilutes the impact of the character, I think; it’s like removing Batman’s cape or making Wonder Woman a blonde in a tennis outfit. My take? Queen Latifah – that should’ve been Amanda Waller.

Still, the biggest miss for me was the under-utilized GL Corps. I understand this movie is supposed to focus on Hal Jordan, but seeing more GL’s in action other than Sinestro, Kilowog, Tomar Re, and Abin Sur would have made the movie better as opposed to the endless and boring Earth scenes. You have a rich mythology here, and not to take advantage was a poor choice. Heck, some of the promotional posters had familiar GL’s plastered on them – what was the point, then, of not even showing them? Oh, fine, marketing to the comic fan, I guess.

The film is also bogged down with too much exposition and too little action. It seems to be trying to go for character development, which is never a bad thing, but other than Hal and maybe Hector, who really got developed here? Sinestro’s slow turn to the dark side at the end of the film during the credits hardly had any context, the Guardians of the Universe were blah, Tom Kalmaku was severely underused, and Carol Ferris stood there like a lump of clay.

Blake Lively: The very anti-thesis of her own surname.

Speaking of which, Blake Lively is a bad actress. Her surname seems to be an ironic statement about her acting abilities. I cannot believe they chose her for this critical role within the GL mythos, and I shudder to think about what will happen if and when they turn her into Star Sapphire.

In all fairness, other than Blake Lively, this was a pretty powerful cast of excellent actors. Ryan Reynolds, Mark Strong (who made Sinestro sexy, dammit), Peter Sarsgaard, Angela Bassett, and Tim Robbins are tried and tested performers – and it is just too bad to see what they had to work with because they turned in very good performances.

The movie is still an acceptable way to pass the time if you have nothing better to do on a weekend. I can’t wait to see the sequel, but not because this movie was so good I wanted to see more, but because the apparent premise of the sequel – with Sinestro turning and possibly causing the Sinestro Corps War – is something I’d rather see and would be more excited about than this initial attempt. Compared to this film, I would rather re-watch Thor and X-Men: First Class, and given I’m not even a Marvel fan but a hard-core DC freak, that’s saying a lot.

My Rating: 6 out of 10 Stars

Directed By: Martin Campbell

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Mark Strong, Peter Sarsgaard, Angela Bassett, Temuera Morrison, and Taika Waititi

Featuring the voice work of: Geoffrey Rush, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Clancy Brown

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