Saturday, June 18, 2011

Review: Green Lantern

The problem with seeing multiple films in a very short span, especially films of the same or similar genres, is the good ones appear to be better and the bad ones appear to be worse. I try to keep that in mind when I'm watching movies and adjust my expectations accordingly, so I think I can say this with certainty: Even if I hadn't seen Thor (alright) and X-Men: First Class (excellent) recently, Green Lantern would still be excruciating.

The plot is mainly concerned with military pilot and asshole, Hal Jordan who is chosen to become a member of the Intergalactic Police Force, the Green Lanterns after the alien who was guarding the sector Earth is in, is killed in action and Hal has to become the new Green Lantern, super-powered cops who can create hard light constructions of anything they can imagine.

Now that sounds like a good concept, and there probably is one buried in there, but the movie could not possible mishandle it more. The script is stupid, lazy and cliched, the characters top at one dimensional, the CGI cheap and none of the action scenes exceptionally exciting. It's not quite as rancid as, oh say, Catwoman, but in terms of superhero movies, I cannot remember a recent one that was quite this bad.

All of this goes back to the script and the lead character, so that's as good a place to start. Hal is poorly written, essentially the same characters as Maverick in Top Gun, but with superhero bullshit shoved into the margins. Again, that probably sounds better than it is. The script never feels like pushing him beyond his cliché, and a lot of his character details and arcs go nowhere. To wit, there's a bit at the beginning about him being haunted by his father's death, but with the exception of one visual cue, after it gets brought up, it's never talked about or properly addressed again. This isn't helped by Ryan Reynolds, a normally good actor, looking completely lost and miscast.

The rest of the story is a teetering pile of cliches (find the ring, introduce heroes, introduces villains, 'I know ring fu,' first act of heroics etc) and half finished plots. At one point Amanda Waller, something of an important character in the DC Universe, shows up, drops some exposition, is given a backstory and then leaves. A character's ENTIRE ARC never actually effects the plot in any real way and I'm still not sure who Hal's friend was or what his nephew's role was. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the dialogue gets physically painful at points, due to clichéd writing and awkward delivery (get used to me saying the word cliché).

The cast is woefully out of their depth, except for Peter Sarsgaard in a fun villain role (when he's not screaming in pain...christ, he's annoying when he screams) but even he amounts to an extended red herring/plot padding. Ryan looks like he was signing up to play a different character than the one he was handed, Blake Lively never shows any range or interest and Mark Strong under heavy CGI gives an absurdly bland performance. None of the other characters are at all worth mentioning except for a SHOCKINGLY annoying cameo by Michael Clarke Duncan as a giant...ape thing.

As for the effects, it's up and down. The CGI used to render what little we get to see of the ring's abilities is mostly clean if exactly what you're expecting. On the other hand the CGI used for Hal's suit does not blend well with his clearly live action head and the reimagining of Parallax looks deeply unthreatening at best and downright silly at worst. The action scenes are mostly clean, and make sense in context (Hal, a soldier, tends to create things like guns and swords) but most of them are boring to watch (one fight in space takes longer to show them getting in position than it does to watch the fight) and the couple that are fun to watch end as soon as they get interesting. The director is Martin Campbell who's done good movies before (The Mask of Zorro for example or Casino Royale) but he seems to have been asleep throughout the entirety of this production.

Look, I tend to rant when I've seen a bad movie, and believe me this is a bad movie, so if you're just skipping to the end for my summing up paragraph: Don't see this. This is a bad, bad, BAD movie, a boring and annoying experience from beginning to end. Don't support this, or they might get ideas and make another one. If you're absolutely jonesing for more superhero stuff and can't wait for Captain America next month, go see X-Men again.

Elessar is a 21 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he wonders if they initially planned to make this about Kyle Rainer.

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