Saturday, June 18, 2011

Green Lantern movie review: By GL fans for certain GL fans

SPOILERS ahead: This movie was definitely influenced by a very specific GL fan – namely, longtime GL writer Geoff Johns, who is listed as a co-producer. The movie has his fingerprints all over it. Heck, even most of Kilowog's lines are straight out of Johns' Secret Origin story.

That said – I loved the movie. I really didn't expect to love it, but I was pleasantly surprised. So (I think) was most of the audience I was sitting with. I only read Roger Ebert's review prior to going to see the movie, because he and I agree more often than not on movies. He thought the movie was reasonably entertaining, so I figured it was worth my time and money. Hey, it's the Green Lantern universe, which is one of the most interesting universes in super-hero comics. That alone makes the movie worth at least a look-see.

Mr. Sea and I saw the movie Friday night at Trader's Point here in Indy. We sat in on the 2D version, and the theater was PACKED. Best of all, it was packed with people who were mostly wearing GL t-shirts, so I know we were in gloriously geeky company. As a whole, the audience seemed to really enjoy the movie. They laughed, and they CHEERED and CLAPPED. It's been a while since I sat in a theater with an audience that was having so much fun.

I also thought the movie was surprisingly kid-friendly, for a PG-13 film. There are some very slight hints at sexuality that would go over most kids' heads, and the villains can be a little scary, but I wouldn't hesitate to let Mighty Mite watch this movie. She loves action movies and super-heroes, and I think this would be a fun movie for her. GL fans expecting the blood and gore of the GL Corps comic would be VERY disappointed, though. GL fans expecting to see Secret Origin word for word are also going to be disappointed.

MANY longtime GL plot details and traditions have been changed for the movie, but they didn't bother me in the slightest – and I've been a Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) fan for 40 years. It's a MOVIE, not the comics. Quality-wise, it's not Dark Knight or Spider-Man 2 (it does drag in a couple of spots, and some of the editing is choppy), but I thought it was at least as good as the very first X-men movie.

Ryan Reynolds is FUN as Hal and gets some good lines ("By the power of Greyskull!"), and Blake Lively is a much better Carol Ferris than I thought she'd be. Bless her heart, she actually gets to do the ONE THING that I always wanted to see in the comics, because it's something I've always suspected of Carol (though for YEARS in the comics, Carol didn't let on about this AT ALL): In the movie, she recognizes Hal as Green Lantern ALMOST IMMEDIATELY. Best of all, she gives him HELL about his lame attempts to hide his identity (“I've seen you NAKED!”). It's beautiful – and very funny.

Actually, I thought it was a very funny film in general, especially for Hal Jordan fans. Let's face it -- Hal Jordan, the comic book character, is rather dull, and though Hal IS very heroic, he's also an arrogant jerk. Half the fun of being a Hal Jordan comic book fan is watching how his much-more-interesting supporting cast REACTS to the fact that he's such an arrogant, yet heroic, jerk. The movie is no different -- the other characters, including Hal's friends and family, give him hell every chance they get, and Ryan Reynolds does a good job of playing straight man to all of the verbal AND physical abuse hurled his way. It's hilarious, and very much in the spirit of the comics. I can understand how it would be off-putting to casual or more high-minded fans, though. (Just WHY is this a-hole a super-hero? Because the ring chose him. Sorry -- yer stuck with him.)

Tomar-Re and Sinestro are PERFECT, though this Sinestro comes across as so professional and noble, it's hard to picture him as the ruthless dictator that he becomes in the comics. A small scene halfway through the end credits, though, does point to impending corruption – and a good reason WHY Sinestro would become a villain.

There are LOTS of details that probably don't need to be in the movie -- except that they're there for certain GL fans. For example, Hal's brothers and nephew are in the film, in one scene. They don't need to be in the film -- it's a wasted scene. It's there only for people like ME -- "OMG, it's Jack and Jim! And Jack is giving Hal hell, as usual -- COOL!" The movie is FULL of throwaway stuff like that -- stuff that's probably completely lost on average viewers.

A few gripes: I've already mentioned that some of the scenes drag a bit, and some of the editing – especially when the movie switches back and forth between what's going on with Hal and Hector – is a bit choppy. AND it's yet another FRICKIN' super-hero origin story – I am SICK to DEATH of origin stories – but, oh well. There's also the obligatory hero-training scene – which really doesn't accomplish much in the way of training, but it's there to give Kilowog and Sinestro something to do. Also, some changes have been made to the villains Hector Hammond and Parallax that I don't really care for, but they make good sense for the movie. There is also a great deal of romance in the film (not sex, but ROMANCE) -- which viewers are either going to love or hate, depending on their level of interest in Hal's love life. All in all, though, I loved the movie, and it made for a good, entertaining night out.

The Captain America movie is next! Can't wait!


Eyz said...

Seems like a fairly decent film, specially if YOU liked it!

Oh well..alright...maybe I'll give it a chance then.

Richard Bensam said...

"GL fans expecting the blood and gore of the GL Corps comic would be VERY disappointed, though. GL fans expecting to see Secret Origin word for word are also going to be disappointed."

Okay...this review is the first one that actually makes me want to see this film, because those are two things I would definitely not want. But I definitely do want a cameo by Jack and Jim Jordan...

SallyP said...

Gosharootie, but I loved this movie. There ARE some very funny moments, and I also laughed out loud when Carol realizes that this interesting stranger in the skin-tight suit on her balcony is actually Hal.

The scenes on Oa were spectacular, and I rather wish that there were more of them. I'm REALLy hoping that there will be a sequel.

Jeff McGinley said...

As a GL fan of thirty odd (in some cased very odd) years, I gotta say yours is the first review I almost 100% agree with, down to the inital and final views of Blake Lively as Carol. Well put all around. My review's delayed till Thursday though, gotta Father's day thing I gotta do and have to take my daughter to see it. (At first she said she didn't want to because she wanted to sleep, until I told her that she didnt' HAVE to see it at midnight, then she was excited.) thanx again!

Sea-of-Green said...

Of course, I'm gonna end up owning this movie on video when it's available. :-) As choppy as the editing is, I'm curious to know what scenes have been cut out. I guess we'll find on in the DVD/Blu-Ray release.

I still haven't gotten around to seeing Thor. I need to do that!

Saranga said...

Go see Thor!

Kandou Erik said...

I thought it was a good movie, but it could have been much better. All the elements where there - it just didn't manage to come together.

Looking forward to getting it on Blueray (with new scenes). Even thought the movie on a whole didn't necessarily come together - all the individual scenes felt genuine, and just like the comics.

I think the biggest detractor for the film was that they wanted to firmly explain the GL mythos to an audience that had probably never heard of GL, outside of the Justice League cartoon. (I'm sick of origin stories as well. Incredible Hulk was awesome because it skipped all that. And now we're going to have to go through Batman's origin on the big screen, YET AGAIN?!) So now that all that is hammered out - they should have a free-er hand in making GL 2 a more action packed movie from the word go.