THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
Hoo boy, is Green Lantern ever a mess. What a shame - the DC Comics character is ripe for a first-class franchise. Based on this movie, they may need to reboot it immediately, Hulk-style. That's how badly it gets off on the wrong foot. All the DC and Marvel Comics movies have been designed to be mass appeal hits, but the best of them feel like they were made with some sense of affection for their lead characters. In contrast, Green Lantern feels like it was made simply because it hadn't already been made yet. What, there's a superhero we haven't adapted for the big screen? Somebody get on that.
Ryan Reynolds is well cast as Hal Jordan, a cocky, egotistical Air Force test pilot. One day, he encounters a dying space alien whose vehicle has crashed. The creature gives him a ring and tells him that he's been "chosen" to be part of an elite group known as the Green Lantern Corps, protectors of the universe. At first, Hal doesn't think he's worthy of such an immense responsibility, but when Earth is threatened by an otherworldly force known as Parallax, he's forced to take advantage of the ring's powers and fight the good fight.
For the uninitiated, what makes the world of Green Lantern cool is that the rings harness the power of will, allowing whoever wears one to conjure up anything they can imagine. So, for instance, when someone attacks Hal with a sword, he can make his ring turn into a chainsaw. It's a great idea that, sadly, the film doesn't find enough uses for. Why the character's defining trait would be given such short shrift is unclear; imagine Spider-Man only spinning webs at the end of his adventure, or Wolverine popping out his claws only for the grand finale. The very thing that makes the Green Lantern fun is hauled out intermittently.
The same is true of Oa, the home base for the Green Lantern Corp. It's an amazing place, where all races of Green Lanterns assemble. Many of the supporting characters are quite interesting, including the surly combat trainer known as Kilowag, and the progressive Sinestro (Mark Strong), who advocates taking a tougher-than-normal stance in the war against Parallax. This is the best stuff in the movie, because the idea of a cosmic security force is compelling. But again, Oa gets comparatively small screen time, in spite of the richness of the possibilities.
What does the film spend time on? Well, there's Hal's tentative - and by "tentative," I mean "dull" - relationship with fellow pilot Carol Ferris (Blake Lively); a nerdy professor named Hector (Peter Sarsgaard); a senator (Tim Robbins) who wants to make a deal to buy high-tech aerial weaponry; and a government scientist (Angela Bassett) charged with investigating the body of the downed alien who gave Hal the ring. None of these detours are anywhere near as engrossing as Hal using his powers, or the Lanterns fighting an intergalactic menace. Whenever Green Lantern gets away from Ao and focuses on Hal's human compatriots, it starts to drag.
This is a superhero movie with no snap - a cardinal sin in comic book cinema. Every time it feels like the plot is settling into a direction, it abruptly shifts course, thereby creating a frustratingly disjointed feel. Way too much material is crammed in. Additionally, you start off thinking this is going to be about the Green Lantern Corps fighting Parallax, but then a side character also turns into a villain, leaving you with no single, fully-developed menace for Hal to combat. The movie gets too bogged down in stuff that isn't interesting, at the expense of stuff that is.
Along the way, there are moments that suggest what a fun, terrific picture this could have been. Reynolds is solid as Hal. The effects are appropriately comic book-y. The other Lanterns have qualities that offer myriad (untapped) possibilities. The final 15 minutes, when Hal truly unleashes his powers to take on Parallax, are first-rate; they indicate exactly what the movie should have been all along. But it's not that movie, it's this one, and this one is muddled and sloppy.
Green Lantern isn't the worst picture ever made, but in the hierarchy of comic book movies, it's hovering somewhere near the bottom.
( out of four)
Green Lantern will be released on DVD, in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack, in a 3D Blu-Ray combo pack, and as a digital download on October 14. The Blu-Ray and DVD also include an UltraViolet digital copy, which allows you to download the movie to a PC or Mac, plus instantly stream it from a digital cloud to your computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Although I was a little let down by the film itself, the bonus materials are quite satisfying. They start off with an extended cut of the film that runs about six minutes longer than the theatrical cut, and which expands some of the scenes a little more fully. You can also choose to watch in Maximum Movie Mode, a picture-in-picture feature where factoids and making-of segments run concurrently with the feature. It's a great way to study individual scenes/elements of the movie. Some of this same material can also be accessed via a collection of Focus Points, shorter segments detailing topics such as the use of CGI to create Green Lantern's suit, the design of the famous ring, and the effects used for the climactic Parallax attack. Each Focus Point is packed full of information.
“The Universe According to Green Lantern” is a 20-minute feature in which DC comics staffers and artists discuss the evolution and history of the character. If your knowledge of Hal Jordan is minimal, this is a nice crash course on his comic book legacy. “Ryan Reynolds Becomes Green Lantern” centers around the methods the actor used to prepare for his role, both mentally and physically.
There are nearly eight minutes of deleted scenes, a few of which are surprisingly strong. The best of them gives a little more motivation to Sinestro, making his ultimate transformation more clear. Another scene – an emotional one between Reynolds and Blake Lively – is amusing because the CGI suit was not added in, meaning that Reynolds is standing there covered with motion capture dots meant to aid the computer later on.
Also included on the Blu-Ray are Justice League #1 digital comic, and a preview of the upcoming Green Lantern: The Animated Series. In all, there are about 90 minutes of supplementary material to be found. The quality of it is high, and it has plenty of entertainment value, regardless of your opinion of the film.
The picture and sound quality are excellent. I actually think the movie looks better in 2D than it did theatrically in 3D.
Green Lantern is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action. The running time is 1 hour and 55 minutes.