Green Lantern: A nerd rage response
So. This piece of crap comes out today on DVD and Blu-ray. But wait! Hold on there. Don’t go rushing to get it. Ever. Seriously. Before you go out and waste your money let me tell you how I really feel about this flick. Be warned: there is no pulling punches, there is lots of anger, some strong language, and my unguarded, unfiltered opinion of this movie as it was shortly after seeing it in the theaters. Abandon hope all ye who enter here.
Blackest night indeed. I honestly don’t know if I’m more upset that the movie missed the mark as completely as it did or upset with myself for deluding my view of the evidence going in that this movie was going to be a big green pile of shit.
Hollywood has had a fickle relationship at best with these super hero flicks, but they’ve managed to squeeze out the occasional win here and there. Films such as The Dark Knight, Watchmen, and X-Men: First Class have all proven shining examples of what can be done right with a comic book movie; in two of those cases also what can be done right with a franchise. Perhaps my own personal love for the character clouded my memory of the things that can be done WRONG. I place the Green Lantern movie up there with Last Stand, Rise of the Silver Surfer, and Batman & Robin as examples of when Hollywood simply doesn’t get it and handles a property in all the worst ways. The movie is completely devoid of any saving grace, plays out like a cheap 1995 Green Lantern parody flick, and ruins an otherwise promising intellectual property for the next decade or so. Fraught with clichés, terrible acting, and production that reeks of disinterest; Green Lantern is a movie I BEG people to not waste their time seeing. Of course if you really must see it I suggest pirating it, sneaking into it(less likely unless you live overseas at this point), or stealing it off a shelf; whichever works so long as no one responsible for making this debacle gets any money for shitting all over my dreams.
Let’s start here: clichés abound in this movie; so much so that it feels as if there might be a handbook for making comic book-super hero movies that gets passed around when a studio really just doesn’t give a shit about the property and simply wants to make a buck. Of course GL doesn’t just take from that one book, they go ahead and draw from the book of faceless generic action heroes as well. The lead’s motivations and reactions are predictable from the start: he has father issues that occasionally crop up and prevent him from really living up to his true potential, he is a womanizer that can’t really commit (no surprise there right, aren’t all action heroes?), when handed a real responsibility and a duty to live up to he is of course at first reluctant and runs away from it, but in the end (insert surprise) he proves that everyone was right about him all along and he really is a hero. Crap. Pure predictable crap. The lead is stolen right out of Top Gun anyway, a much better movie by comparison, because hey Hal Jordan is just Maverick with a power ring, right (or at least so he’s written here). Then there’s the love interest. Honestly I think they just stole and rehashed the Superman/Lois Lane/Clark Kent scenes out of the first Superman, slapped in this movie’s counterparts and reshot them. Nothing about their relationship is surprising, except perhaps the allusions to a previous relationship that went nowhere (of which there is never any actual evidence of). It was like watching frat boy douche bag hit on his entitled spoiled rich girl girlfriend after they had a fight and he hit her, but it was okay now, he would be different for her, just watch. I wouldn’t even buy it if they put it on sale and offered me a free hand job from Emma Stone with purchase. Even the other lanterns are so clichéd and boring that they aren’t believable beyond a Saturday morning cartoon. Their motivations and reactions to the “Oooh a HUMAN has a ring” are all predictable from the onset. Of course everyone doubts him, of course he’s not good enough because he’s *gasp* HUMAN, of course they can formulate a (disastrous) plan to confront the big bad evil without him because they KNOW what they’re doing. And yes, you know how it will all play out and end even before it begins. You’ve seen this movie before, and likely you’ve seen it done MUCH better before. Then again doing this movie better wouldn’t be a hard task to accomplish.
Alright, clichéd set up aside, how about the acting? Oh the acting. OOOHH THE ACTING! Lets get something clear: I like Ryan Reynolds. He was great in Van Wilder, he was funny on Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place, and he can even do legit acting well like he did in Buried Alive. Ryan Reynolds is a TERRIBLE Hal Jordan. Even before I saw the movie my one reservation was Reynolds as Hal. By leaps and bounds Hal Jordan is my favorite of the four earth GLs, seeing Reynolds cast amanged to illicit a bit of a “Well no one expected what they got out of Ledger in Dark Knight so lets wait and see” defense. A knee jerk reaction of maybe it won’t be bad. Then I saw the outfit and I think something inside of me knew then, but I’ll get back to this later. Even as a bad choice for the part he could have at least tried to act his way out of the box they’d trapped him in. Instead he delivers one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen, akin to Clooney as Batman level of bad. His every line is delivered like he’s working on a spoof of super heroes instead, and his wavering from “I can do this” to “The ring made a mistake” gets old fast, while never being believable in the first place. Never once did I think “Okay, there’s Hal Jordan, capable of over coming great fear” instead I spent most of the movie imagining Nathan Fillion in his place and sighing wistfully as I noted how much better that movie would be. Enough about him, how about that Blake Lively huh? Wow, if there wasn’t a more ironically named actress in all of Hollywood. Her delivery is wooden and bland, her motivations sketchy and incomprehensible, and she’s not really all that good-looking. Seriously, Megan Fox is a better actress than this chick, and this chick isn’t handicapped by Michael Bay. The counterpoint to the terrible leads are the villains. Peter Sarsgard is incredible as Hector Hammond, and Mark Strong as Sinestro is the most perfect casting since Patrick Stewart as Professor X. Both of these guys deliver incredible performances, its honestly like they don’t even belong in the same film. Of course killing off Hammond is just one of several mistakes this film makes, but certainly not the only mistake.
Now then, you’ve got the big book of clichés, an entire slew of terrible acting, but how do you really drive it home that this isn’t how you’d like to be making a buck? Make it look like you’re so disinterested in the film and the subject matter that you couldn’t even be bothered to check source material. For evidence I point to the suit. Or really lack of. Why did they do this? This amount of CGI had to cost a pretty penny, especially when you consider it had to look and mimic a real human body, from breathing to the way skin stretches over muscles. It was totally unnecessary, and it shows. The entire time he’s the Green Lantern he looks like a floating head over a cartoon body. The suits have always managed to be believable before, even Batman’s suit in the current films looks like it could be a feasible working suit of combat armor. This cartoonish mock-up though looks terrible, I never once thought it looked good, from the moment I first saw it on a magazine cover to credits rolling I hated it. Also, the villain of the movie (not the incredible Hector Hammond), the big bad evil, is an energy cloud. Did someone leave a copy of Star Trek’s big book of cosmic terrors sitting around? Or did Rise of the Silver Surfer’s Galactus cloud just rip one and it leaked over into the DC universe? The comic book version of Paralax is a creepy looking space bug made out of pure fear energy. Why couldn’t they do that? Why the change into faceless energy cloud. Oh but it does have a face. Kind of. I don’t know, it was terrible. The constructs Hal makes on Earth are pretty lame as well, a Hot Wheels track saves the day? Come on. At least the boxing gloves in the comics made sense, you make a big glove, you punch someone, they get hurt. The large scenes of the Green Lantern Corps on Oa look like they were ripped from an episode of Babylon 5, no one is unique, no one stands out, and even fan favorite Lanterns are glazed over in a haze of”Was that … I don’t know could have been I guess.” Oa itself, the center of the universe, the most amazingly technologically and culturally advanced planet IN THE UNIVERSE looks like post war Afghanistan, why do these people live in caves?! And lastly the story, it very much seems like they phoned this one in, I can imagine conversations ending in “Oh I don’t know, just make it an energy cloud or something, I need to go buy another yacht” actually taking place. None of it connects very well, each scene just suddenly ends and the next begins, people act in unfathomable ways, they kill off the lone interesting character, the hero never gets much chance to act heroic, and the scenes made specifically for fans are obvious and boring, tacked on last-minute as an after thought.
Bottom line: this movie is terrible. No saving grace at all. They keep talking about the sequel as an already done deal. A second movie could be good, its possible. They just have to find a better script, fire the terrible leads, bring Hammond back from the dead, ignore the energy cloud monster, make Oa look more like Coruscant and less like the asteroid from Armageddon, give the other Lanterns a bigger role, and pretend the first movie was just a horrible nightmare. Will I ever see the movie again? I might. I know I won’t be picking it up on Blu-ray, even with the added promise of a code to unlock Batman’s Green Lantern armor in Arkham City. I don’t want anyone getting one more dime from me because of this movie, which means no more chips, Reese’s peanut butter cups, or green tea with Reynolds’ face on it. Now I just need Randall to get my money back for me and I’ll feel better.