Green Lantern (2011) Directed by Martin Campbell
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Peter Sarsgaard and Tim Robbins.
CAUTION: I recommend this film with reservations.
"Green Lantern" is a problematic film with lively action sequences, and
more character development and background detail than most comic book
movies, but with some bad editing, missing scenes, zero chemistry
between the hero and his love interest, and a bad score.
First of all, I must note upfront that I am a fan of writer/producer
Greg Berlanti ("The Broken Hearts Club" and TV's "Brothers &
Sisters" & "Dawson's Creek") and actor Ryan Reynolds ("Definitely,
Maybe" and "The Proposal"). I have followed both of their careers with
interest. I think they both did some good work here, but were hampered
by a mediocre supporting team.
For the poor parts of the film, I am going to assign blame to Director
Martin Campbell, Editor Stuart Baird, and Composer James Newton Howard.
While I can understand the selection of Mr. Campbell to direct, since he
directed "Casino Royale" and "Golden Eye" which were large James Bond
action pieces, the producers should have realized that when there is not
enough grit in a story to latch onto, he can turn out ungrounded films
like "The Mask of Zorro". In the "Green Lantern", Mr. Campbell makes
some rather bad choices. The first is pairing of Mr. Reynolds with Blake
Lively (who plays Hal Jordan's love interest Carol Ferris in the film).
During their screen test, it should have been obvious that they had no
romantic chemistry. They were completely unconvincing as longtime
friends and former lovers, and the scenes in the movie, where Mr.
Reynolds runs away from Ms. Lively are a relief, because I didn't
believe for a moment that they had a connection worth fighting for; I
wanted to scream out to Hal Jordan -- keep going and don't look back.
The second issue I had with the film was Mr. Campbell's editing with
Stuart Baird. Again Stuart Baird was a logical choice. Mr. Baird was a
protege of Richard Donner and edited "Superman" (1978) and "Lethal
Weapon" (1987). However, Mr. Baird also directed "Star Trek: Nemesis"
which doomed the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" films. The first act
of the "Green Lantern" failed to have a comfortable rhythm between
scenes and failed to include some important scenes with Peter Sarsgaard
(who played Hector Hammond, the villain in the film) to develop his character. One major mistake
of Mr. Campbell's and Mr. Baird's was to intercut the stories of Hal
Jordan developing into the Green Lantern with Hector Hammond's
development into a villain. The two stories had different tempos, and
there were not enough scenes developing Hammond, so the going back and
forth seemed uneven. In the film, Carol Ferris, Hector Hammond and Hal
Jordan were supposedly friends in a bit of a love triangle in their
youth. However, Mr. Campbell and Mr. Baird showed none of that, even
though they already included flash back sequences. It would have been so
easy in the existing flashbacks when developing Jordan as a child, to show Ferris
and Hammond and some jealousy. In fact, when Hammond first appears on
film, he is introduced into the film as a complete stranger; the
audience is unaware that Hammond knows Jordan or Ferris.
The third issue I had with the film was the film score by James Newton
Howard. Mr. Newton Howard failed to create any memorable theme music in
the film or memorable themes for characters. The music is a mess of
noise, attempting to heighten action sequences, rather than help tell
the story. There is a short John Williams-esque "Superman" couple of
bars when the Green Lantern flies into action, but that is it. What a
wasted opportunity. When a composer is lucky enough to get a "Superman",
"Batman" or "Spider-man" film, the composer has a chance to create a
truly memorable theme that heralds the hero. Mr. Newton Howard was
either not skilled enough or creative enough to create a good theme and a
Now I turn to the reasons why you might want to go see this film. The
best reason is Ryan Reynolds. He is easy on the eyes, and has enough of a
magic quality to make an audience root for him. The film shows Hal Jordan's doubts in his ability, scarred childhood, shadow existence under his father's fame and untimely death, and a man who shows fear must be acknowledged and overcome every day.
The second best reason
is Peter Sarsgaard ("Kinsey" and "Boys Don't Cry"). Mr. Sarsgaard is
hardly recognizable under his make-up and mustache, and yet he brings a
poignancy to his villain. I suspect there are additional scenes with Mr.
Sarsgaard that were deleted, but the ones they left in show some
Third reason to see the film is the creative world of
the Green Lantern Corps that is shown on screen. Although, it looked a
bit fanciful, I found it appealing and interesting. There is also a
final sequence of the film, the showdown between Green Lantern and
Parallax (the incarnation of universal fear) which is part "Day After
Tomorrow" and part space duel.
Note: I did see the film in 3D (which I ordinarily would not) and it is not useful in this film. I recommend if you do it, go for 2D.
Ryan Reynolds, Peter Sarsgaard and a decent final action sequence are
the main reasons that some will enjoy the film and get over the
problematic aspects. I recommend this film with strong reservations.
- Dennis Chiu
means "Go: this is a must-see movie".
Yellow light means "Caution: I
re- commend this film with reservations".
Red light means
"Stop: don't waste your time".
(c) 2011 Copyright Dennis W. Chiu. All rights reserved.