Green Lantern’s Failure to Fly

And with that poster you see to the left, I knew even many, many months ago this project to take Green Lantern from my childhood comic books into movie theaters was doomed.

You might say I’m an expert on the topic after all as my parents will attest, I collected nearly every Green Lantern and Green Arrow comic as a kid and teen and could practically recite the Green Lantern’s oath in my sleep.

This is why it was so utterly disappointing for me seeing the film-version of this character that was so detached, focused-grouped and plot-bombed from its true source material that is more in line with Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight”-styled Batman approach than this whatever you call it that hit theaters this Summer.

Let’s get to the facts which the movie did a decent job attempting to stage.  Hal Jordan was a test pilot, in the Chuck Yeager sense – not so much the “Iceman” from Top Gun sense we saw on film.  Hal struggled with issues ranging from personal demons, yet powered by a true to the core devil-may-care fearless attitude that set him a breed apart from the rest.  He was like no other man this side of Superman or Batman.  *That* by the way is the reason why the ring chose him, most certainly not “Anyone…Can Be Chosen” brought to you by Warner Brothers’ marketing dept.

The film again attempts to set the character up with the death of Abin Sur, one of the greatest of the Green Lantern Corps – though this is hard to believe given the film shows him utterly clueless and getting blasted by this awful space barf (sorry special efx called “Parallax”).  What might be even worse is the treatment of Hal Jordan’s character – into a wisecracking, __*&^5 that is no fault of Ryan Reynolds who really surprised me in how obviously hard he tried to keep this movie from sinking under the weight of its monster budget and swiss cheese script.

For those who didn’t read the comics – you might say Hal Jordan if ‘type-cast’ would fall under the likes of a Jon Hamm from “Mad Men”, or even Sam Worthington from “Avatar” or “Clash of the Titans”.  So when Ryan Reynolds was cast for the role and the first images of his ‘costume’ looking more like an electric leotard hit the magazines – we fanboys cringed and wanted to toss our mice from our desktops.

(Note:  Jon Hamm or Ryan Reynolds – who would you choose?)

Now about the movie, I did finally have time to watch it this week and went in with lowered expectations since Peter Travers of Rolling Stone had referred to it as “…comic book hell.” LMAO!

Truth be told, it wasn’t really *that* bad, if we were talking about a film with an average budget.  However with a rumored 200 million dollar budget this really was an incredible failure of intergalactic proportions.  How can a film that cost more than “Avatar” to make have even worse special effects than “Fantastic Four”?  At what point when watching the progress in post-production wasn’t there a red flag…er, green flag raised?

As far as the acting goes, Blake Lively is manageable as Carol Ferris, Hal’s love interest and in the comics his equal in many ways and not a former flame childhood buddy as she came across on film.  Peter Sarsgaard was surprisingly good as Hector Hammond even though his lines were relegated to some of the worst dialogue in modern film-making.  Mark Strong was probably the one correctly cast character in the film as Sinestro – Hal’s one time mentor turned mega villain early on in the comic series.   Michael Clarke Duncan and Geoffrey Rush voicing Kilowog and Tomar Re were nice touches, but again mainly given impish lines straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon show on Qubo.

And then there’s Ryan Reynolds who I had every expectation would be the worst element of the film.  I was wrong.  Reynolds actually did a pretty solid job being Ryan Reynolds (not so much Hal Jordan) which was probably the better parts of the film.  One must also realize that the actors were running around in leotards and ping pong balls straight out of an EA Madden Sports shoot most of this film due to the nearly exclusive use of CGI throughout.  I’d imagine if an actor can’t even *see* the uniform he’s wearing or the fantastic galactic worlds he’s traveling to – that makes life extremely difficult.  Ryan Reynolds’ attempts to save the movie with a terminal script were almost… heroic, very Hal Jordan of him.

The Script.

This is by far the most upsetting part of this whole mess.  Apparently 200 million in Hollywood can’t buy you a decent script!

I’ll let you in on a little secret that could potentially ‘spoil’ a Green Lantern trilogy if there ever was one.  Given how badly this movie has performed I think I’m safe in telling you the rest of the story since I’m pretty confident there will be no more Green Lantern films after this…

In the original tale – as stated above Hal Jordan is indeed selected as being a man without fear and the potential to be one of the greatest GL’s of all time.  Sinestro quickly takes a spiteful, jealous turn (his name does after all give it away, doesn’t it) all the while behind the scenes Sinestro uses his power ring to incite fear and worship of himself on his home world.  It is Hal Jordan who confronts him on this issue which eventually leads to Sinestro becoming outcast from the Corps.  Which is what makes this film more mind-numbing that its Sinestro who gives Hal his biggest salute at the end of this film only to do a smash/grab of the yellow power ring about 3 minutes into the closing credits.  Whaaaat?  The same guy who was the tough drill instructor, “Braveheart” rally speaker to the rest of the GL decides to switch sides after Parallax is beaten?  Nevermind all of the silly banter of “Van Wilder” moments of Hal and his best buddy cracking jokes about what to do with the power ring.  Mindless.

And the effects for the price tag were pretty inexcusable – let’s just leave it at that.

The creators of this film state “…we made Green Lantern with a trilogy and hopefully more in mind…”  This film’s epic 200 million dollar flop has likely killed any chances of movie sequels (which may be doing us all a service).  Sadly by lunching this Joel Schumacher “Batman” + Halle Berry “Catwoman”-inspired project into theatres this Summer – the only new chapters in the Green Lantern story will be found on The Cartoon Network.

On second thought – a series built by writers who know and write comics might be the best thing to ever happen to Green Lantern.  But another movie?  Show me someone who is worthy to write a good story because clearly “anyone” can’t be a great screenwriter no matter what the movie budget.

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By robmayeda