Feldman on Green Lantern
By Aaron Feldman
It had to happen. After two well-received Superhero blockbusters this summer, Thor and X-men: First Class, it was only a matter of time before we were greeted with a critical flop. From what most of the critics have been saying (26% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, 39% average score on Metacritic), Green Lantern appears to be that flop. But is the movie really as bad as the reviews claim? Definitely not.
It's not winning awards, but by no means is Green Lantern a bad film.
There isn't a single bad performance in the cast, though there are few great performances. A notable exception is Peter Sarsgaard. He plays Hector Hammond, one of the most sympathetic, human, and over-the-top villains I've seen in a while. It's a shame they didn't include more of the character. I would have preferred to see him receive more screen time, as opposed to being an afterthought to the main villain.
As for the writing, there's a scene in the latter half of the movie, where protagonist Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) addresses the Guardians (the CEOs of the Green Lantern Corps), lobbying for their support in his endeavour to save earth. As he started talking, I thought “Oh no, now there's going to be this terrible, long winded speech”. The speech was perfectly short and painless, and I was pleasantly surprised.
I mention this moment because it does a good job of summing up the experience of watching Green Lantern as a whole. Fear that you're going to watch something terrible, followed by relief when it surpasses your expectations. This sentiment applies not only to individual scenes, but the story as a whole. It certainly applies to the actors.
Something that worked surprisingly well in Green Lantern is the 3D effects. Before I saw this movie, I was convinced that only animated movies look good in 3D (Thor, for example, while a fun movie, was really distracting in 3D). Green Lantern proved me wrong. It may not be enough to convince me that 3D live action films are the way of the future, but it's one of the strongest offerings I've seen since Avatar.
One piece of advice: if you're planning to see the movie, see it with a bunch of hardcore comic fans. I had the pleasure of watching this movie with the UysFaber group. Half of the fun was waiting in the theatre for the movie to start, as well as chilling in the lobby when the movie was over, getting into good old-fashioned fanboy (and girl) arguments with each other over who would win in a fight: Rise of the Silver Surfer or Wolverine: Origins. It's the best atmosphere to see any Superhero movie in, particularly a lukewarm one such as this.
At its worst, Green Lantern is a missed opportunity. You can see that the film has potential, but by trying to evoke the feel of an epic Sci-Fi Space Opera within the confines of a traditional super hero origin story, the movie isn't really allowed to take off in any one direction. Likewise, characters like Sinestro and Hector Hammond, who are very rich characters in the Green Lantern comic books, don't have the time to be much more than cameo characters.
If you asked me if Green Lantern was bad, I'd reply with an adamant “no.” If you asked me if Green Lantern was good, I'd reply with a fairly apathetic “ehh.” It's a movie that's certainly worth your time, and if you're a fan of the comics, may even be worth your money. The movie didn't wow me, but it certainly left me excited with what could be achieved with a proper sequel.