Film Review – Green Lantern
Oh, but things only get better when Hal travels to the distant world of Oa, where he learns of the Green Lantern Corps, a kind of “ultimate police” whose sole purpose is to protect the peace of the universe. This is where things go from bad to worse in terms of the aesthetics of the movie. In today’s technological age, you would think that filmmakers would be able to create worlds that seem relatively believable, but that is simply not the case here. The use of CGI in both the world design and in the very costumes of the Lanterns looks terribly fake. Comparing the scenes that take place on Earth to the scenes that take place on this distant planet is like day and night, as if you were changing the channel between a live action movie and animated film. It’s hard to take this seriously when one moment Hal is walking around real people in real locations and then the next fighting off a character that resembles a steroid injected Jar-Jar Binks. I do have to give the special effects some credit, though; a few of the action scenes that take place on Earth are relatively impressive, given the absurdity of Green Lantern’s power. But that’s only because they happen in real places, where we can feel the weight and danger of what’s happening. The film’s problem was that there was nearly not enough of this; it relied too heavily on the effects and not enough on tangible elements. It’s hard to take Parallax seriously as a dangerous villain when he resembles something along the lines of chocolate pudding or dirty brown gobbly goop.
The best thing about the movie is Peter Sarsgaard, who plays the mad professor/scientist Hector Hammond. What makes Sarsgaard’s performance the most enjoyable is that he tries to play an actual character. Hector is a man who for his entire life wanted to be on top, but was never able to live up to his own expectations and to the expectations of his father, Senator Hammond (Tim Robbins). When he gets infected by a piece of Parallax’s DNA, he gets granted the powerful gift of telekinesis, and uses it to take revenge on those who looked down upon him and gain the dominance he’d been craving for. I liked Sarsgaard’s acting in the movie, hamming it up with all the creepiness and oddball mannerisms you could ask for. It’s unfortunate that his momentum would be derailed halfway through, and that he would have to be dressed up in one of the most terribly designed make-up jobs I’ve seen. I won’t give away too much, but I will say that the one word that came to mind as soon as I saw him in full costume was… “bulbous.” In contrast, compare his performance to that of Blake Lively, who plays Carol Ferris, Hal’s lifelong friend, co-pilot, and, of course, love interest. Lively is the least believable jet pilot you could find, walking around barely surprised by all that is happening around her, and accepting it all because that’s how her character was written to react to things. I fear that Lively was cast not because of her acting abilities, but because she looks good on screen next to Ryan Reynolds. Two performances on opposite ends of the spectrum, and both let-downs for two completely different reasons.
In the end, there is really nothing about Green Lantern that makes me want to revisit it. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I dislike it. What a shame that for a production that had so much money invested, this is the best they could come up with. Its characters felt underdeveloped, the action was not exciting, and the CGI was overused and not believable. I know what they were trying to do, in the way they attempted to add a little bit of tongue-in-cheek humor to the movie, a la Iron Man (2008). The problem was that the film was too self-aware with everything that was going on. I felt like everyone in the movie was winking at me the entire time I was watching it. At some point, the film needed to take itself a little more seriously, and the actors needed to perform as if they were really going through this experience with real issues at hand. But alas, that tone wasn’t nearly realized, and the movie suffered because of it.
Final Grade: C-