While I wasn’t able to get to the theatre last Friday for the opening Green Lantern, starring Ryan Reynolds, I was able to make time to see it today with my brother. Despite the negative reviews, I was surprised at how well-done it was, and how much I enjoyed watching it. After watching such a film, I always find myself wondering why a person like myself enjoys it while critics wouldn’t. It’s understandable that we all have different tastes and that not everyone will enjoy what I enjoy, but sometimes it goes beyond these simple differences into something more.
IGN’s review of the film was so off-base that one has to ask themselves whether or not the reviewer watched the same movie or watched the movie at all. It is so inconsistent with what I saw that is was obvious that this review was a hit piece. Simply put, they went in looking for problems and made up, if not downright lied, about what was in the movie. It’s obvious that the review is a deeply obsessed Marvel fanatic who’s unable to accept that not only was Green Lantern a good movie, but an enjoyable one.
In order to understand this, let’s breakdown IGN’s gripes with the film. Beware though as this review does contain spoilers.
The Corps Are Wasted – All GL’s script does is show Sinestro as someone whom the Corps look up to and respect, someone who can galvanize them. And during this, not once is Sinestro portrayed as someone with ulterior motives or a villainous agenda. It’s as if the movie let a big chunk of his turn to the dark side happen off-screen, but it would have been a better a movie had we seen parts of it.
How cool would it have been to see Sinestro, someone the Corps looks up to with great regard, get upstaged by this “unworthy” human, and then turn his back on the Guardians and all he has served because A) Parallax is the Guardians’ fault and B) why do we need Sinestro when we have Hal Jordan?
Sinestro wants to destroy fear with fear, and pushes for a yellow ring to be forged. And that’s his only motive in the movie for doing so – to fight the good fight. Therefore, the direction Sinestro takes at the end is unwarranted and not set up. The end credits scene is a wasted and unmotivated coda that only exists to provide the thinnest of springboards for a sequel.
Aside from poor grammar (‘is’ not ‘are’ as the Corps is a single entity), this is utter nonsense. When Hal Jordan arrives at Oa, the audience is treated to a very highly detailed planet, as well as the thousands of different GL Corps members who inhabit it. Though the audience is only introduced to three Corps members (Tomar Re, Kilowag and Sinestro), you are left feeling that there are many of colourful and well-defined characters within this fighting force.
As for the Corps not doing much, where should I start? With the fact that the Guardians planned to abandon Earth to its fate? That Sinestro lead a squad of GLs against Parallax that was wiped out? It’s part of the plot that Hal would have to deal with this on his own, as GLs usually do. Once again, you get the feeling that this reviewer was either watching a different movie or hadn’t picked up a GL comic for the last decade or so.
Parallax – Giant Diarrhea Space Cloud? – When it comes to depicting the more outlandish comic book villains in live-action ,sometimes less is more. As much as fans may have complained about Galactus’ portrayal in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, it’s hard to argue that a giant man in a purple hat was a better and more convincing approach than a vague monster shrouded in space dust.
That lesson wasn’t applied to Parallax. This living embodiment of fear was very “in your face” in the climax of the movie. But somehow the creature’s mystique was lost in translation. Rather than the glowing yellow monster of the comics, Parallax was a floating diarrhea cloud. How can you be afraid of something when its very appearance makes you stifle a laugh? To add insult to injury, the writers combined the characters Parallax and Krona into one villain, thereby robbing future sequels of a potentially awesome conflict.
Frankly, Parallax is at his best when he possesses characters and warps their appearance and personality. What you can’t see is always more frightening than what you can. As with Galactus, that sort of less is more approach should have been adopted.
Parallax isn’t a “giant diarrhea space cloud,” and if this reviewer had been paying attention, he/she would have been honest about it. While the story behind Parallax differs from the source material, it was a welcomed change. In the movie, Parallax is a possessed Guardian who’s powers increase with each victim. This power is shown to the audience as a massive debris field that appears more like an octopus than fecal matter. Just as a tornado picks up debris, as Parallax destroys worlds and murders its citizens, not only does its power increase, but so does this debris field. It’s believable that something comparable to a force of nature would take such a shape, so what’s the issue? If Parallax’s shape was such a sticking point, why wasn’t IGN upset about how Galactus was portrayed in the second Fantastic Four movie? They were nearly identical, but I guess only Marvel is allowed “giant diarrhea space clouds” eh?
Sinestro Doesn’t Do Much – The complicated relationship between Hal Jordan and Sinestro is one of the driving forces of the GL comics. Sinestro began as Hal’s mentor and the most respected member of the Corps, but his willingness to control others through fear led to his downfall and the two former friends became bitter enemies. These days, Sinestro is the leader of his own Lantern Corps – one fueled by the yellow-colored power of fear.
The film series seems to want to follow that path. The problem is that GL glossed over much of Sinestro’s story. By the time he claims the yellow ring during the end credits, viewers have had very little indication Sinestro has been corrupted by fear. If anything, it seemed as though Hal had convinced Sinestro not to claim the ring. Sinestro’s corruption is a plot point the film should have hinged on. And no matter how well the character is handled in his transition to villain in the sequel, the crucial setup phase was blundered.
Sinestro doesn’t do much because Sinestro isn’t the star of the film. In fact, considering that Sinestro is a minor character in this story, I am baffled that this was a criticism at all with all the screen time he got. Sinestro is shown reporting to the Guardians on the release of Parallax, a few minutes later he is shown giving the report on Abin Sur’s death, then he’s there to talk to the Guardians about Parallax, etc. At every plot point throughout the film you see Sinestro updating the Guardians or butting heads with Hal Jordan. All this attention definitely suggested to the audience that this character would be important in upcoming movies.
On that point, anyone who was paying attention to Sinestro throughout the film knew what was going to happen next. You see how angry he is with the Guardians, his own fear that the GL ring isn’t strong enough, etc and when a the yellow ring was forged, considering the way Sinestro was acting after Hal’s victory, it was obvious what was going to come next. In fact, that minor plot would have felt meaningless without that scene afters the credits. Once again, was the reviewer even paying attention?
The CG Fails the Story’s Scope – From a technical perspective, Green Lantern is an ambitious film. Far from showcasing the usual earthbound super-heroics, it depicts an entire galaxy full of ring-wielding heroes from countless alien worlds. But the reach of the film’s ambition far exceeded the grasp of its CG capabilities. Green Lantern simply didn’t look as impressive as its universe deserves.
Art design was one flaw. The filmmakers took a number of liberties with the look of the Green Lanterns, the architecture of Oa and other elements. The second-skin look of the costumes was interesting, but ultimately the simpler approach in the comics just looks better.
The larger problem with the CG was that it never looked very convincing. Hal stood out awkwardly from his CG costume. Many of the aliens were surreal to the point of looking fake. It’s enough to wonder if the filmmakers would have been better off creating Green Lantern as an entirely CG film, like Beowulf or Polar Express. At least then the universe would have looked more cohesive.
The CGI was incredible, and the constructs were so varied, from a toy race car track to a pool of water, I was amazed at how well it was put together. I was at first unsure as to how you could show a GL’s power on screen, but it worked. Even the CGI suit was impressive on screen, despite my own concerns and this reviewers gripes about it. Knowing the source material, it made more sense to have the suit as CGI than otherwise. It wasn’t perfect, but far better than I expected, and far better than anyone could imagine after reading this hit piece.
As for this criticism about taking liberties with the source material, what of it? As in all superhero movies, there is a considerable amount of difference between the source material and the film adaptation. Whether it is the architecture or the appearance of the various alien species, considering how that the source material is a comic book, how are they to bring these to life without making changes? As for this criticism that the aliens themselves look to surreal, look at the source material itself. The vast majority of the aliens in the comic book, as well as the Bruce Timm animated shows and movies, are surreal. It is easy to see that this reviewer is simply looking for excuses to dislike the film.
Hector Hammond – WTF? – Hector Hammond isn’t necessarily one of the most well-known or beloved Green Lantern villains, although the comics have worked to change that in recent years. Regardless, Hammond is a character who deserved much better than what the film had to offer him.
The best villains all have personal ties to their heroic enemies, and Hammond is no different. In the comics, Hammond craves the life of adventure, excitement, and love that Hal Jordan enjoys. He’s a character ruled by greed, not fear. Unfortunately, the movie more or less ignored these fundamental aspects. The result was that Hammond was little more than a walking plot device that chewed scenery and heralded the coming of Parallax.
In my opinion, Hector Hammond is a horrible character. That isn’t the fault of this movie, but the source material itself which is half a century old. Back in 1961 when he was created, I doubt the writers could ever have dreamed of villains like Parallax and the Sinestro Corps, as well as the huge assortment of villains Hal has fought over the years that puts this C-list character to shame. Though revised, powered up and thrown at other GLs since his creation, Hammond is still a poorly designed character. If anything, this film makes him appear far more interesting than his C-list comic book inspiration.
A Blow to DC’s Movie Plans – GL is Warner Bros.’ first attempt at truly embracing a comic book property’s roots. It was expected to do for DC what Iron Man did for Marvel, and usher in a new, lighter more Marvel-esque movie era for DC in a post-Nolan Batman world.
The exact opposite happened. Ryan Reynolds, who many fans of the comic believed was not the right choice for Hal, is one of the film’s few strong points. Reynolds’ Hal and Blake Lively’s Carol do not fail the movie, the movie fails them. It also fails fans who wanted to celebrate the movie beyond the fact that a movie about intergalactic space cops and their jewelry exists.
Green Lantern’s creative shortcomings and negative criticisms will affect plans not only for this franchise, but for others – especially Warners’ JLA movie, slated for 2013, and their Batman reboot. Moreover, on a macro level, reaction to GL will impact other studios with similar-minded properties in development; studios will become gun-shy to pull the trigger on those projects based on one movie’s misfire. The best thing about GL is the fact that it got made. The fact that “will-powered rings this” and “yellow impurity that” can become a big-screen reality just 10 years after the first X-Men movie was considered a gamble is a big leap forward. It will be a sad time when (not if) the industry lets this movie’s failures detour the chances of potential successes waiting to get made.
It’s too early to track all of the fallout from GL, but we can see the mushroom cloud rising. Expect a “mea culpa” down the line from the studio – maybe from even Geoff Johns himself, who spearheaded this project as DC Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer. It will be the usual, kid-gloves response about how “we missed the boat on a lot of things with GL, but we’ll get it right with a reboot!” And all that does is prepare us for the fact that what they got wrong the first time they may get wrong again.
If this reviewer was trying to appear unbiased in his/her criticism, it is this criticism which makes it obviously that he/she was anything but. A blow to DC’s movie plans? How so? Last time I checked, they didn’t kill off Hal Jordan or any other important character in this film to make further films more difficult. This is hardly the case with Marvel’s X-Men franchise as Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops, a character who is the linchpin for the vast majority of X-Men stories, was killed off in the third X-Men film. This film was simply a way of introducing audiences to Green Lantern. It’s clear that there will be sequels to this film as the ending hints at just that.
As for DC’s other plans, what of them? A Batman reboot isn’t affected by this film’s success. The Batman franchise, as indicated by the success of the last two films, is very profitable venture no matter what other superhero films are out, whether they are DC or Marvel. A new Superman series could be the same as his following is just as strong and fans have been demanding a reboot of the series after the last film tried to continue the story of the Christopher Reeve’s movies. It maybe that DC would be concerned about other characters, but any decent film with Batman, Superman or both will make money.
On that note, if this reviewer was so concerned about how Green Lantern’s success would affect other DC movies, why haven’t these questions been asked about Marvel’s movies? Let’s not forget that Iron Man was the first real success Marvel had that was comparable to DC’s success with Batman Begins, and that came after a slew of terrible films. Has this reviewer already forgotten about the Hulk and Ghost Rider?
In conclusion, I have a hard time trusting movies reviews. Unless there is something seriously wrong with the film, like disturbing content, poor editing, etc it’s best to pay the ticket price to see it for yourself. Simply put, ignore this review, as well as others done by Marvel fanatics, and be your own critic.