'Green Lantern' cleared 50 million bucks on its opening weekend, and while others will undoubtedly discuss what that means for the movie, a possible franchise and DC Comics, what's vastly more interesting is talking about the movie itself. It was entertaining, but flawed. After the jump, we're going to sit down and discuss five things about 'Green Lantern' -- four things it got wrong and one thing it got right.
(Warning -- Spoilers after the jump.)
Endangered loved ones are a common trope of action cinema, but let's be honest here: We've seen it so often that it's clichéd and lazy. 'Spider-Man,' 'The Dark Knight,' 'Iron Man' and plenty of others have all had scenes where the hero's love interest or lady friend gets in trouble and needs to be rescued. It's usually followed by a scene where she shows that she is just as capable as the hero, either by attacking the villain or by performing some other action to make up for being kidnapped. 'Green Lantern' features a scene where Blake Lively, as Carol Ferris, gets kidnapped and used against Green Lantern. It goes exactly how you would expect: The hero frees her, drops a quick quip, and later needs her help.
The problem is that these scenes are always, always predictable. She isn't going to die, because then the hero is a failure and the movie is depressing. So, if it's perfectly predictable, the five or 10 minutes spent on revealing how much danger the female lead is in is essentially wasted. The audience doesn't learn anything new. The most we can hope for is a neat bit of action. These days, that just isn't enough.
'Green Lantern' opens on a voice-over explaining the role of the Green Lantern Corps. This is valuable backstory and gives the film sort of a Star Wars feel. It feels like a space epic, with flybys of stars and galaxies. The problem is, all of that stuff the narrator is explaining? It sounds really fascinating; space cops imprisoning galactic-level threats, patrolling the cosmos, and more. It sounds like the sort of thing that you would want to see rather than have someone explain to you. The fact that the movie opens with a voice-over that explains the plot and then moves on to a minor action sequence, instead of a slam-bang action sequence, is a mistake. I'm theoretically part of the target audience for this movie, and bland narration doesn't cut it.
If you've ever seen a movie before in your entire life, this won't come as much surprise. There are moments when Green Lantern loses faith in himself and has to be talked into being a hero. It's the same as every other action movie, and perhaps most reminiscent of 'Batman Begins.' There are a number of lines that are callbacks to prior scenes and pithy aphorisms pretending to be good advice. Someone tells Green Lantern that he's courageous, and boom, he's ready to go back into action. Does he become obviously more courageous? Do we see that courageousness in action? Well, no. The only difference is that the thing he was weak at earlier in the movie, which several characters specifically called out as being a weakness, is no longer a weakness.
There's no actual growth, but there is someone telling you that growth has happened. It would be nice, for once, to be able to point and go, "See? Look, our hero has learned something because he did _______," rather than watching someone explain how the hero always knew what he had to learn.
Every Green Lantern has what is essentially a magic wishing ring. If they can visualize something and have the appropriate amount of willpower, they can bring it into reality. In 'Green Lantern,' this means machine guns, swords, fists, a race car and track, a few fighter jets, and maybe one or two other constructs. Green Lantern never really breaks out the unbridled creativity that the ring would naturally suggest. His constructs are all very normal and boring.
Where are the giant robots? The suits of armor? The wacky stuff that any kid could think of? The fists and jets are nice, but you've got functionally unlimited creative possibilities with a Green Lantern ring. You've already given up on realism just by virtue of having a character with a ring that can do almost anything, so why not take it to the next level instead of showing us standard action movie clichés with a neon green tint?
Despite my complaints, 'Green Lantern' wasn't half-bad. It might even make a nice foundation for a series. There wasn't a lot of dead weight in the cast, though some actors were undeniably better than others, and the world has plenty of room for growth. More than anything, though, the tone was pretty much exactly what it needed to be. Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan is appealingly goofy, and while he doesn't display much range, he's pretty believable in his role. There's a lot of broad comedy in here, the type of jokes that appeal to almost everyone, and the writing gives all of the characters brief moments to shine, for better or for worse.
'Green Lantern' subverts one part of the superheroic myth very well, with a couple of solid jokes aimed at secret identities, and walks the line between irreverent and space epic pretty well. I'd like to see future installments breaking away from the safe, middle of the road aspects of this movie, if only to get some really good and imaginative action scenes and explorations of exotic alien cultures. That's part of the point of Green Lantern as a concept -- fantastic vistas, unreal action and sci-fi hijinx. This is a good first step. Hopefully part two will get the series to where it needs to be to really take off.
|It was awesome!||1304 (23.0%)|
|It sucked!||1072 (18.9%)|
|I'll come back for a sequel, but they need to fix the problems!||3302 (58.2%)|