Toto’s Movie Review: ‘Green Lantern’

Toto’s Movie Review: ‘Green Lantern’

Green Lantern Ryan Reynolds

It’s official. Green is not a flattering color for superhero movies.

“Green Hornet” did a victory dance earlier this year simply for not living down to its low expectations. The new “Green Lantern,” with a bigger budget and Hunk of the Moment Ryan Reynolds, makes one dread any superhero with so much as a swatch of green in his costume.

“Green Lantern” is so CGI dependent it’s a wonder someone bothered to lug a camera onto the set. Reynolds flexes his appealing blend of arrogance and heart to play the title character, but there’s little super about this hero.

“Green Lantern,” based on the venerable DC Comics title, casts Reynolds as a hotshot pilot named Hal Jordan with serious daddy issues. That doesn’t stop him from bedding the ladies or charming his ex-girlfriend, Carol (Blake Lively), even after double-crossing Carol during an air combat simulation.

One fateful night Hal is drawn to a downed space ship with a dying purple passenger inside. The alien , part of an elite fighting force known as the Green Lantern corps, carries a special ring which selects Hal to be its owner.

Hal is no hero. He’ll be the first to tell anyone that. But the ring always picks the right person to become the next Green Lantern. And Hal better embrace his fate quickly. A creature which looks like something you’d find lodged in your drain pipe is threatening to overtake the galaxy. And he’s got the Earth penned in for destruction in his appointment book.

On the surface, “Green Lantern” supplies some flourishes to the superhero boilerplate already getting worn this summer. The Green Lantern’s powers hail from outer space, and he’s part of an interspecies squad determined to keep evil at bay wherever it may bloom.

Comparing the film to prior superhero efforts isn’t flattering. Watching Hal and Carol flirt recalls the superior sparks thrown off by Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder in the first two “Superman” films. And where is the sense of joy found in being able to fly that the best superhero films deliver? Close your eyes and recall Reeve grinning as he took to the skies, or Robert Downey, Jr. feeling that adrenaline burst as his iron suit let him mock gravity.

Hal’s a pilot, for crying out loud. Where’s the delight in being able to fly without wings?

The film’s script, credited to four scribes but hardly worth fighting over, wallows in repetitive chatter about will, fear and courage, as if George Lucas wrote the first draft but then decided to dumb it down. The few flashes of wit, like a nice spin on the superhero identity game, arrive out of nowhere and leave just as swiftly.

Reynolds has the right attitude to play Hal, the man chosen to defend the earth despite his lackluster track record. But what actor could soar in such a setting, or even make his presence known amidst the computer-generated onslaught of visuals? Even the film’s Earth-bound villain, a nebbishy scientist played by Peter Sarsgaard, wouldn’t be fit to fetch Lex Luthor’s coffee.

The prologue gives us the background on the Green Lantern corps, and how they keep the peace across the universe. But it’s just one of several exposition-heavy moments which sap what little sense of adventure seeps out from the story.

Woe is the person expecting “Green Lantern” to become the next superhero franchise. And avoid the film’s 3D incarnation at all costs. That third dimension is virtually nonexistent, making the film the least impressive 3D offering since the technology came roaring back into movie houses.

(Photo: Ryan Reynolds plays a hotshot pilot chosen to join an exclusive intergalactic squad in “Green Lantern.” Warner Bros.)

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

AlericNo Gravatar June 17, 2011 at 4:47 pm

I had a feeling this was not going to be an epic movie.

MrkNo Gravatar June 17, 2011 at 5:58 pm

I think the more realistic the superhero (Batman) the easier it is to make a live action movie. These are comic stories for a reason. They’re visually appealing. But I think it’s lightning in a bottle to get it right. CGI, the more it’s used, the more cartoonish it becomes. I’m surprised then, that there hasn’t yet been a computer animated full feature film of a comic book character. You’d think that would be ready made for it. The Incredibles and Megamind showed you can do superhero action and make it exciting, in an animated pallet. Even thought the characters were cartoonish, the action scenes were exciting and watchable.

DouglasNo Gravatar June 17, 2011 at 10:39 pm

I won’t go see it, I will catch it at my brothers place in a few months as my nephews stare at the pretty colors, and I read updates of the White Sox definitely being removed from post season contention.

The problem with The Green Lantern, before I even watch the movie is because of DC’s super heroe’s PERIOD. Other than Batman, and Nightwing (who is dick greyson after a falling out with batman) the heros are flogging Immortal. They face no real danger, their powers or omni potent, their heros are always bigger and better, with no rationale for exactly HOW they use their abilities. Maneto is amazingly powerful but the application of that power is always explained, like in “The Secret War” volume 4 when he makes a comb out of nothing, he explains that he took the iron from the ground from the microscopic quantities in the air, and from (I for get who the female was, I wanna say jean grey) the females hair.

His powers have limitiations, it’s the application that makes a big difference.

In DC? you need a power, we will give it to you, oh, but nothing yellow.

Tom in AZNo Gravatar June 17, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Not epic? Where do you bastards keep your souls? If you don’t damn near weep when you hear the Green Lantern oath, there’s some kind of reptile looking out of your eyes from where a man should be.

I liked it because, for the first time, it didn’t treat me like an idiot. This was a movie for the people who like Green Lantern, it was a chance to see Kilowog hit people and call them poozers. It wasn’t ashamed of itself the way those crappy pathetic Batman movies are—newsflash, Ras Al-Ghul is supposed to be 1400 years old, with his life maintained by the Lazarus Pits that drive him temporarily insane. Oh, yeah, Batman’s totally realistic. Only, no, no it’s not, those losers just gutted the story because of their self-hatred.

If you think members of the Green Lantern Corps are less vulnerable than a Marvel hero—Wolverine!?—maybe you’d like to tell me what the X-Men’s procedure is for replenishing their numbers when they take heavy battlefield losses. What? Oh that’s right, it’s never come up. The Corps has one, because they get killed all the time—the ring’s AI says, “Lantern (#) killed. Scanning sector (#) for replacement” and it flies off to recruit him.

Green Arrow’s…a guy with a bow. Bart Allen (Flash #3) was just murdered recently. Basically, the only DC heroes who are immortal are Superman and the Martian Manhunter…except the latter can be killed with a match. Meanwhile your precious, ever so vulnerable Marvel has Hulk, Thor, Wolverine…I could go on. They’re not more vulnerable, they’re less—they just whine more.

Mr. Toto, I don’t know what movie you watched, but plainly it wasn’t the one I did. I can’t come to it from the standpoint of an outsider (I can recite the Oath like I can recite the Pledge or the Our Father), but my sister doesn’t know Kyle Rayner from Kyle Reese, and she didn’t have any problem with it. It sounds like you just decided to hold its use of CGI against it.

DouglasNo Gravatar June 18, 2011 at 9:18 am

Fair enough.

AdamNo Gravatar June 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm

To all people who are not fans of a comic book. Don’t review the movies or if you do read the comic before approaching it. Quite frankly I’m tired of reading misinformed critics who don’t bother to read source material before seeing the film. Hal Jordon does have daddy issues he watched his father die in front of him. Of course the movie is going to be about over coming great fear it will be mentioned alot that’s the point of the comic. Look at how often the word fear was thrown around in Batman Begins almost as bad as the word Vampire in Blade. The only problem Warner Bros; has with the DC characters is that they try to make them too real and it fails. That’s why I applaud Green Lantern. The first X-men movie was slow paced and horrible it picked up in the second lost it in third. The New Class was amazing and CGI heavy I might add. Leave this movie alone and pick up a comic I suggest Green Lantern Rebirth, Green Lantern Orgins, and the Sinestro Corps war then watch the movie again.

AdamNo Gravatar June 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm

sorry correction in previous comment it is X-men First Class my error I apologize

drewsterNo Gravatar June 18, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Right, because the ONLY people who are qualified to look at a film and reviewing it objectively are fanboys.

You can disagree with Toto’s take on this, but to say that he shouldn’t review this film because he appears, (which I believe was your point) to not have the same love for the source material you do, is really pathetic.

I didn’t read anywhere Toto saying that if you liked this film you were a moron (i.e. Roger Ebert) he just said that it seems to be taken over by the CGI to the point where it loses him an a viewer. Obviously it won’t be the same for everyone, just him.

I’ve often wondered why fanboys feel the need to pick fights with people who don’t agree with them. You love the film, someone else doesn’t. They say why they didn’t like it, you say why you like it. So why can’t you leave it at that?

MycroftNo Gravatar June 18, 2011 at 11:43 pm

I expected all the CGI, so that didn’t bother me.
It was an okay popcorn flick, similar in quality to The Fantastic Four. Like FF, the script had a lot of dumb moments:
“The ring will instantly provide you with the knowledge you need, BUT I will still explain the history of the Green Lanterns anyway.”
“I can’t do this! I’m going home! Uh, I’m keeping the ring though.”
My personal favorite is the tender moment he spends with his girlfriend before flying off to fight the big evil dude. Several dozen people die while he’s doing it, but it is so very touching.
I don’t regret seeing it, but doubt that it will get much repeat business.

Dave TaylorNo Gravatar June 18, 2011 at 11:43 pm

I also disliked Green Lantern and reviewed it as one of the worst films so far this summer. I had high hopes, though I’m not a huge Ryan Reynolds fan, but he was just completely unengaging and while I don’t know much about the comic book character, I’m well schooled in cinema and know a clunker when I see it. There were SO MANY plot elements that were introduced just to vanish without any benefit to the story that it became a bit astonishing. Psychic mind-reading powers? Yeah, whatever, don’t know where to go with that. Cool computer-powered planes? Save ‘em for the sequel.

I accept that some people will like Green Lantern. Heck, some people liked Transformers 2. But not this critic and not Christian either, from what his review suggests. :-)

Mike B.No Gravatar June 19, 2011 at 3:50 am

Tom in AZ, THANK YOU for your review. I can understand how those NOT familiar with this great comic epic don’t get it, but I can’t wait to see this (in 2D).

How did Reynolds do for you? We had commented earlier that I thought he would be perfect, but you thought it needed a better, deeper actor.

Any observations/suggestions going forward?

jicNo Gravatar June 19, 2011 at 11:59 am

To all people who are not fans of a comic book. Don’t review the movies or if you do read the comic before approaching it. Quite frankly I’m tired of reading misinformed critics who don’t bother to read source material before seeing the film.

If you have to be familiar with the source material to enjoy the adaptation, than that adaptation is a failure as anything other than fan service. If it’s not possible to make an adaptation that can stand alone, then it probably shouldn’t be made in the first place (unless you can make it cheap enough that you can get by on the fanboy market alone).

cftotoNo Gravatar June 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Good conversation … I wanted to respond to some of my critics here, but other commenters beat me to it. Love the passion people bring to the cineplex, but at the end of the day a critic is allowed to criticize a movie (assuming he does so fairly) and an audience member is allowed to say he’s wrong.

I have a friend who insists The League of Extraordinary Gentleman is a good film based, I believe, on his affection for the source material. And nothing I can say can change his mind!

GrailwolfNo Gravatar June 19, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Couldn’t disagree more with this review. First, you got some facts wrong (for example, he doesn’t “stumble” on the ship, he is drawn over a hundred miles to it) so I’m wondering how much attention you paid to the movie. Also, there is almost no way to make a film like this without CGI and I think it was used extremely well.

And the 3D was amazing. They used it in ways I have not seen before, including the gleam on created objects and one scene with a shimmering image of the crystal lantern that hangs in the air. These are different in each eye in a way that creates a convincing sense of ethereal glimmering that I’ve not seen done before.

And there is a scene of the joy of flight, but it is not something that the movie dwells upon. After all, as you point out, it has been done before.

I am a big fan of comics but know little about Green Lantern. My dad is a longtime fan of the character. We both enjoyed the film immensely, and the other people in the theater seemed to share our opinion.

I’m really wondering if we saw the same film.

cftotoNo Gravatar June 20, 2011 at 1:25 am

Grailwolf -

The 3D in the film I saw was lousy, awful, terrible – not worth a plug nickel more for the price of admission.

Of course you need CGI to tell this story, but the CGI is overwhelming and dwarfs every other element here. A good film uses CGI as a tool, incorporating it into the other physical elements.

If you think I saw a different movie than you did, please go and leave messages on ALL the other critics who said the same thing I said … or much worse.

Time for thicker skins, folks.

cftotoNo Gravatar June 20, 2011 at 1:32 am

Note: I did amend the review regarding how Hal first meets the alien … it’s possible the film clunkily detailed that aspect of the story. It’s also possible I blew it. Happy to correct any such errors – I’m human, but I want to fix mistakes ASAP.

drewsterNo Gravatar June 20, 2011 at 2:34 am

It seems that the problem here is that many people want to like the film so much that they go out of their way not to notice the flaws. This is not unusual, and is a rather human emotion. But it does tend to leave its own issues.

Eariler I mentioned Ebert, and how he decided to go as far as to label people who liked a certain film as morons or idiots. Its a two way street. If you don’t like a film, it doesn’t make you any more an idiot than anyone else. You have your reasons, and other people have theirs.

For example, I cannot understand why people tend to love the film Gladiator. I’ve seen it several times trying to make sense of it, and cannot see what they see. I don’t think they’re morons for liking it, but I cannot see it.

I have several films that I like which are crap. I can recognize a films flaws and still enjoy it for different reasons.

And ditto Toto. All you fanboys out there, if you know you are or not, grow up and accept the fact that not everyone likes the same things you do.

jicNo Gravatar June 20, 2011 at 2:56 am

For example, I cannot understand why people tend to love the film Gladiator.

It was a moderately good movie that was hailed on release as an all-time classic for no comprehensible reason, which had the perverse effect of making it seem vastly worse than it actually was. See also Shakespeare in Love.

GrailwolfNo Gravatar June 24, 2011 at 8:12 am

For the record, I have a pretty thick skin and I was not predisposed to liking this film. In fact, a number of people whose opinions I respect told me it was terrible, so I was really just going because my dad is a fan of the character and it seemed like a nice thing to do on Father’s Day.

I should also say that I have a number of problems with the film, and there are many things I would do differently. What surprised me was the level of vehemence in this review and the fact that some of the elements you criticized were things I saw as strengths. For example, the 3D, and I suspect that there may be a technical issue here. I have seen many reviews panning the 3D and a number that praise it. Similarly, I have some friends who hated it and others who loved it. Might it be that some of the theaters are not keeping up their equipment correctly or something? It just seems odd to have such a sharply split opinion.

I commend you for altering the review (regarding the scene where he finds the alien ship), but I’m still surprised by the lapse. I don’t want to describe the scene too thoroughly here (I’m a bit of a spoilerphobe) but suffice it to say that I don’t think it’s easily possible to mistake the events here for “stumbling” on the ship near his home.

And finally the CGI. I hear complaints like this often (that the use of CGI in a fantasy film is “overwhelming”) and I rarely agree. CGI is one element in a filmmaker’s palette, and can be used well or badly, but I do not think that the amount of CGI in a film should be considered a negative in itself. I have never heard, for example, that a film had too much scenery or too many props, and I see no difference between these elements and more technical elements like CGI. Some movies have a lot of props, scenery, or CGI and some have less (or none). If it is appropriate to the story being told (and I believe that in this case it was) then I do not see its use as a flaw.

If the CGI looked bad (and we’ve all seen those films) then that is a valid complaint. I do not think that was the case here. If the CGI was used when it would have been better (or as good) to shoot the scene practically, then that is a valid complaint (though mostly an issue of taste and artistic preference). But I disagree that the CGI in Green Lantern somehow detracted from the story, and I don’t see any other flaws in these effects that would cause the negative comments here. I may be that I’m just missing something, but I just don’t understand this part of your criticism.

And Drewster, I’m quite grown up, thank you very much, and I do not expect people to like what I like (note that I never said that anyone should like Green Lantern, just that I disagreed with the specific criticisms). I do agree about Gladiator, though.

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