I am, perhaps, not the person to write this review. I may be the world’s biggest Elongated Man fan, but of the big guys at DC Comics I was a Green Lantern fan going all the way back to his first appearances on Super Friends. Hal Jordan was my hero. He had determination and strong character and he wasn’t afraid of anything. He was also manly, macho and handsome, without peer in his chosen dangerous profession. Oh, and he’s smart and inventive, because the ring is only as good as the brain of the person wielding it.
Of course, they didn’t make a movie about that guy.
No, we can’t have someone who is professional and capable. We all hate guys like that, apparently, which is why the last several decades has seen the degradation of all of our heroes into screw-ups and man-children. In the comics, suddenly Hal became a drunk driver and a wash-out always on the cusp of losing his job. Then Geoff Johns took over on Green Lantern, and Hal becomes a womanizer to boot.
Thus we meet the movie version of Hal Jordan waking up from a one-night stand with some blonde, realizing he overslept on the day of a very important test, and endangering the lives of other people as he speeds down the highway trying to wrap a birthday present with newspaper. I should mention: the gift isn’t even needed until later that evening, so the wrapping on the fly is only for the purpose of showing us how much of a screw-up he is. Aside from his flying skills, he is regarded by even his friends as a loser. He participates in the flying mission, which is intended to show off the abilities of two new fighter jets, and instead he makes the new products look like failures because he thinks a demo for the buyer is the right time to show off…and in the end, he costs the company millions of dollars in destroyed inventory and lost jobs. (That Carol later salvages the situation is beside the point.)
This is all to show the guy growing into a better person in his origin story, a la Iron Man. That it is such a well-trod tale that the whole thing becomes a paint-by-numbers plotline isn’t even my main complaint. As it stands, I actually found the movie’s plot to be better than average. There are twists and surprises that defy expectations, and that’s good.
No, my problem is that I hate Hal Jordan because I expect better from a 25-year-old Air Force veteran. When your company has a major contract that is depending on you, you get to bed early, sober and alone.
I just can’t believe the power ring would choose this guy out of 5 billion people, millions of whom have the self-discipline and courage to make for great Green Lanterns right out of the gate. I don’t believe the ring is going to go looking for the diamond in the rough who could be fantastic with a lot of training and personal growth. What’s more, this whole “first I’m a jerk and then I grow” story is just so tired! Why couldn’t we have a story where the character growth is about something else?
This really is my only major complaint about the movie. Thus, if you like watching undisciplined screw-ups learning life lessons that are arriving far later in life than they should, your mileage may vary.
Is the CGI a bit of a strain, being so unnecessarily glitzy and at times muddy and video-gamey? Yeah, but it’s offset by enough cool and some moments of sheer brilliance. Geoffrey Rush’s voice (as Tomer-Re) makes the buttload of exposition easy on the ears.
The actress playing Carol Ferris is especially good, bringing some depth and strength to a role that could have been flat and two-dimensional. I’m not sure I buy her as a pilot, as she doesn’t look like she has the muscle to be jockeying a plane. But from an acting POV, she stands out. Let me put it this way: I can entirely buy her as a young executive who can pull off a military contract way more than I can believe Maggie Gyllenhall and Katie Holmes as district attorneys, or Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane.
The Green Lantern Corps…well, it’s… not only is it “video-gamey”, but the shots of the various Corps members go by so quickly. It feels like an episode of the Simpsons, where signs flash by rapidly and you need to freeze-frame them later. In other words, all there is is the promise that at some later date I may get a kick out of seeing some of my favorites who went by in a half-second, but for right now…I spotted Stel, Olapet, Xax of Xaos (or Bzzd) and I think the F-Sharp Bell.
I could complain about little stuff, like how each sector of space is said to contain several galaxies, whereas I think one galaxy divided up would still be an overwhelming amount of space to be patrolled by only 3600 Green Lanterns… but I’m honestly trying to not be a nitpicky fanboy. My complaints about GL are from a point of film criticism. My fanboy side was sated when I not only saw a non-Green Lantern character from the DC Universe but we even got to see her origin tale right out of the comic books! That was awesome.
You know…I like Geoff Johns, but I’m a little aggravated at how much of the Green Lantern in this movie is his Green Lantern. The “Highball” call sign, Hal’s one-night stands, Parallax as a fear entity, the yellow ring of fear with the meaningless logo, Hal and Carol being friends from childhood… and worst of all, that “will” thing.
I’m getting off on a rant, one that’s long overdue on Geoff Johns’ version of GL, but… will is NOT AN EMOTION! You can have a strong will about spreading fear, for example. I always interpreted that whole “willpower” thing with Green Lantern as the explanation of how the green energy is employed. In other words, you use your willpower to make the energy take shape, and your willpower/determination dictates how strong the construct is. That’s all. It’s not that the green energy IS will in liquid form. All the other colored lanterns also employ their energy to do things via their mental effort, a/k/a their will.
It’s like saying that a cowboy fights the bad guys with the power of forefinger.
Final verdict: The Green Lantern movie is a solid B.