Finally, after years of sitting on the bench as Marvel Studios churned out adaptation after adaptation for their iconic comic book characters, DC Comics is making an effort to step up to the plate. Sure, DC has had massive success with Batman and to a lesser extent Superman, but their other popular characters have been relatively absent from the silver screen. That is until now.
“Green Lantern” follows a test pilot named Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) as he inadvertently finds himself chosen to become a member of the elite, intergalactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps. As Hal learns the ropes and begins to understand the scope of his new responsibilities, a mysterious and powerful enemy known as Parallax has set its sights upon Earth. Now, with the aid of his one-time love Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), Hal must find the courage to overcome his fears and insecurities and unleash the power of will before Parallax and his accomplice, Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard), tear our world apart.
“In brightest day, in blackest night; no evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power, Green Lantern’s light!” Those words form the pledge by which every single member of the Green Lantern Corps live their lives. It’s not a pledge the characters in this film take lightly, by any means. So, does the film adaptation do justice in bringing this character, all of his supporting cast (both alien and human), and the pledge by which they live and breathe, to cinematic life?
If you ask me to answer that question, I would say…yes, for the most part. Are there issues with the film as an adaptation or as just a movie? To an extent, yes there is, but the good and accurate portions (in relation to the comic book) far outweigh the few bits that are incorrect or need work.
Written by Greg Berlanti (TV’s “No Ordinary Family”) and Marc Guggenheim (TV’s “FlashForward”) the story for “Green Lantern” is a combination of a character-driven drama and an origin tale. Plus, the story boasts a hefty dose of science-fiction, moments of humor, and the rekindling of a romance, not bad for a character’s first foray to the big screen.
In blending all of those elements together the writers did an impressive job of striking a relative balance between each of them. Thus, leaving audiences with an end result that is a thoroughly entertaining first installment in what will hopefully continue on to become another successful superhero franchise.
As I mentioned earlier, more often than not, the film works very well. The scenes set on Oa were both visually stunning and fanboy dreams come to life. I mean come on, anyone that has read a Green Lantern comic has got to admit that it was great to see so many members of the esteemed Corps up on the big screen. The action scenes were also very energetic and well choreographed and the intermixing of live-action with CGI was relatively seamless (at least 95% of the time).
As for the drama unfolding within the story, most of it was gleamed from Geoff Johns’ superior retelling of Green Lantern’s origin during a comic book story arc known as Secret Origin. The movie does an admirable job of conveying the inner turmoil that had consumed Hal for much of his life. Plus, the scenes shared between Hal and Carol were very nice moments that offered a quiet respite from the more sci-fi oriented aspects of the story.
Now, I will admit that there were parts of the film that didn’t work as well as they should have. Chief among these issues is the handling of the film’s primary villain, Parallax.
For the most part, I didn’t mind the film’s take on Parallax, because in the comics he’s never really been given an origin tale. So, the fact that the writers, with the blessing of Geoff Johns (who served as a consultant on the film), combined the Parallax character with a fallen Guardian, although not canon, it did make sense to me.
Of course, some may cry foul at that departure from the comics, but for me it wasn’t much of an issue. The bigger problem with the character was in his appearance.
Never has Parallax appeared in the comics as a cloud-like entity (à la Galactus from “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer”). While at various points within the film the character’s face does somewhat resemble his comic book counterpart, more often than not, it looked nothing like him. However, since the goal was apparently to make the character a villain of more substance rather than merely a spirit entity, this departure while not my favorite choice, didn’t ruin the movie, but it did bring it down a little bit.
Some other very minor gripes surround a few of the CGI sequences that appeared more rushed in order to get the film completed on time. And in some instances some of the scenes of Hal on Earth interacting with Carol or various other characters would occasionally feel oddly edited. As if there were bits of information either omitted from earlier in the scene or from elsewhere in the film.
Now, a major issue that some critics are citing with this film is that many of the actors and actresses in this movie are woefully miscast. If you ask me, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
First off, Ryan Reynolds (“The Proposal”) as Hal Jordan turned out to be a spot-on choice for the role. I’ll admit that at first I was skeptical of Ryan’s casting. Reason being was aside from having the proper physical appearance his typically sarcastic demeanor didn’t seem to fit the character. However, aside from a few brief moments early on in the film, Ryan’s trademark sarcasm was kept in check.
I think that in casting Ryan Reynolds DC and Warner Bros. made a wise decision by going with a lead actor that has star power, is young enough to build a franchise around, and has the acting chops to help the audience relate to the character and accept the more outlandish aspects of the material. Personally, I think that Ryan was a great choice in the end, and despite my misgivings early on, he ultimately wound up impressing me in the role.
Alongside Ryan as Carol Ferris, a love interest for Hal, is actress Blake Lively (“The Town”). Blake is yet another casting choice that many took issue with by saying that she never convincingly conveys the authority her character possesses and that she lacks any true acting ability.
Again, I disagree as I felt that Blake was very good as Carol. She brought strength and determination to the role. And, any perceived limitations with her character are due to the fact that her role wasn’t as fleshed out as Hal’s, but that’s where a sequel can come in to play.
Serving as one of the film’s villains (the one that is flesh and blood) is actor Peter Sarsgaard (“Flightplan”) as Hector Hammond. In the comics Hector has always been very creepy and stalker-ish towards women, and as odd as this is to say, Peter really nailed this aspect of the character perfectly.
As Hector, Peter played the part in two distinct ways. The first was as a very meek and subservient individual, who was always too weak to speak out or defend himself or his ideas. Then after his chance encounter with Parallax he embraces his newfound power and lords it over everyone he can. All the while he is trying to woo Carol Ferris, albeit in the creepiest manner possible.
Now, a big gripe by many a critic, and even some comic book fans, is that the various alien members of the Green Lantern Corps show up as little more than over-glorified cameos. Honestly, this to me made sense given that this film was about Hal Jordan’s journey to become a Green Lantern, and not the collective Corps at large. However, Warner Bros.’ marketing department (whether instructed to or not) showcased the various other members of the Corps to such a degree that most expected to see a lot more of them in the movie.
However, what’s done is done, and despite their cameo status, the various alien members of the Corps that were featured were all terrific adaptations of their comic book counterparts. Whether they were completely computer generated (for example Tomar-Re and Kilowog) or an actor with heavy amounts of make-up and prosthetics applied (Sinestro), each were convincing, living breathing versions of some of the more renowned members of the Corps come to life.
Comprising the main three members we are introduced to in the film are three very talented actors. First is Mark Strong (“Robin Hood”) as Sinestro, one of the leading and most revered members of the Corps. Mark perfectly conveyed Sinestro’s contempt for new recruits into the Corps. Plus, showcasing his indomitable inner strength and determination to be the best there is at what he does is Sinestro through and through.
Along with Mark Strong, are actors Geoffrey Rush (“The King’s Speech”) and Michael Clarke Duncan (“The Green Mile”) providing the voices for Tomar-Re and Kilowog respectively. Both Geoffrey and Michael were spot-on in their vocal renditions of the characters, especially Michael whose booming bass voice perfectly complimented Kilowog’s impressive stature.
Well, I suppose I’ve gone on about this movie long enough, and so I leave you with one last thought: despite what most of the critics have said about the film, “Green Lantern” is truly an entertaining piece of summer superhero movie fun and is easy to follow and understand even if you’re not familiar with the character.
Not to mention, those aforementioned critics, most of them admit they’ve never read the comic book on which this film is based. Which is obvious given that much of their complaining is in regards to aspects of the film that are completely accurate to the source material. So, in that respect, I wouldn’t put too much stock in their opinions of this movie.
“Green Lantern” is rated PG-13 for violence and language.