One of the advantages/disadvantages of living in Australia is that it sometimes takes films so long to get here that the initial hype can wear off. In the case of the new Martin Campbell (“Casino Royal”) film “Green Lantern” it is an advantage. The decision by Warner/Roadshow to hold this film from Australian release for so many weeks after its US debut is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it has killed any anticipation that Australian audiences might have had for this film, on the other hand, after all the bad reviews it received, expectations for this film couldn’t be much lower. When it was released in the US, “Green Lantern” was savaged by the critics and generally ignored by audiences. In Australia, we heard and read all the reviews and over the last few weeks have wondered whether the film could really be that bad. So, is it? No, I didn’t think so, I didn’t hate this movie. I just didn’t think it was particularly great. It is an average action film that is nowhere near as bad as I was led to believe.
The plot follows, pretty faithfully, the DC comic it is based on. Test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is given a green power ring by dying alien Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) and becomes a member of the Green Lantern Corp, an intergalactic police force. The ring, powered by the green light of will power, can manifest anything that the wearer can imagine to help fight bad guys. The one quality that all Green Lanterns must posses is to be fearless. Jordan is taken to the Green Lantern home world of Oa for training and he is so beaten down and intimidated by the whole thing that he quits and returns home to Earth. Jordan eventually puts on the uniform to save the day and becomes a Green Lantern. Now that he has accepted the responsibility of the ring, he must face the inter-galactic menace Parallax. Can Jordan overcome his fear and save the Earth? I’ll let you see the film to find out.
“Green Lantern” is a film of two parts. The parts on Oa, the Green Lantern home world and the parts on Earth. Of these two parts the sequences on Oa are the better of the two. The Green Lantern home world is a beautifully realised CG world of emerald green and huge structures. It is where the film can really cut loose and just enjoy the fantastical elements of the story. We are also introduced to a cavalcade of strange and interesting alien races that make up the Green Lantern Corps. Mark Strong as Sinistro, Michael Clarke Duncan as Kilowog and Geoffrey Rush as Tomar-Re are all well suited to their roles as members of the Lantern Corps and are obviously having a lot of fun in their roles.
The film falls down however when Hal Jordan returns to earth and has to interact with uninteresting characters, a love interest that he has no chemistry with and a bad guy that, quite frankly, acts him off the screen. Ryan Reynolds is a perfectly adequate as Jordan/Green Lantern; he has the brash, confident swagger needed to play the cocky test pilot. Blake Lively on the other hand is wooden and flat as Carol Ferris, Jordan’s love interest. I have never been interested in watching “Gossip Girl”, and this film doesn’t change that opinion. Tim Robbins and Angela Bassett, both favourites of mine, are sadly bland in their roles as Hammond Snr. and Doctor Waller. However, the real star in the Earth scenes is Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond, he is a joy to watch as he nervously twitches his way through every scene.
The visual effects in “Green Lantern” are, overall, very good, the lantern effects are fun and the constructs that are created by the ring work well. A lot was said about the digital costumes, and now I’ve seen the film, I think they work quite well with the exception of Green Lantern’s mask, which just looks dorky, as if it was painted onto his face.
One of the elements that this film is sadly missing is a decent score. We need big themes to help support the larger than life superheroes. John Williams helped Superman fly, Danny Elfman added depth and menace to Batman and Alan Silvestri almost made me want to salute Captain America. James Newton Howard’s score for “Green Lantern” is a meandering, pointless score that never lifts us off the ground. It is bland and lifeless, a little like Blake Lively’s (a really ironic name by the way) performance and so many other elements in the film.
If you do decide to go see this film, opt for the 2D option if available. The 3D conversion is practically nonexistent. There were scenes in this film where I took my glasses off and the film looked no different. In the, almost one hundred percent CG created, Oa scenes the 3-D works better but still not impressive enough to warrant the 3D surcharge that cinemas charge in this country. This conversion is not “Clash of the Titans” bad, just not very effective.
Overall, I didn’t mind the film and my 12-year-old son thought it was pretty good, although it should be mentioned that even he hated the mask, Blake Lively and the music. I’m not sure I would recommend paying cinema dollars as it isn’t in the league of any the Marvel Pictures produced films of late but it would make a fun DVD/Blu-Ray watch on a Saturday night. And to put it into perspective, it was still better popcorn film than “Transformers Dark of the Moon”.
– David McVay
“Green Lantern” is directed by Martin Campbell and written by Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim & Michael Goldenberg based on the DC Comic character. It stars Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Tim Robbins, Angela Bassett, Taika Waititi, Temuera Morrison and the voices of Geoffrey Rush, Michael Calrke Duncan and Clancy Brown. It is a Warner Bros. Pictures film.
It is in Australian cinemas everywhere Thursday 11th of August. Make sure you check out our full review and analysis of “Green Lantern” on the August 13th episode of the Film Actually podcast.