Aside from Batman, DC just hasn’t been able to get any of its properties into cinemas with the same acclaim and appeal that Marvel has. Superman Returns, as vast as it was, proved to be such a throwback, DC has elected to reinvent the franchise. For the past few years, the book DC has sold the most of hasn’t starred Batman or Superman. It’s Green Lantern. The tales of hotshot test pilot and cosmic cop Hal Jordan have dominated DC’s sales for the past five years, so it was the next logical choice for DC to bring to the big screen
Many thought Ryan Reynolds to be wrong for the part of Hal Jordan since Hal is much more subdued than anything Ryan Reynolds has ever played. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Reynolds could the beloved character with the right balance of charmer and thrill seeker. I thought he would do well with the part, but I found this screen incarnation to be practically identical to the comics version and not just “really close.” This was the main element I enjoyed about Green Lantern, even more than the lush visuals.
I can’t say I was overtaken by many of the other performances. Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan are merely voices for their characters. Temuera Morrison is more of a presence than a character, which is expected from Hal Jordan’s predecessor, who must die to give the hero his powers. Angela Bassett is a manipulative government scientist, but has to hide in the background to promote Tim Robbins as the worthless senator father of villain Hector Hammond, played by Peter Sarsgaard. This is a pity because Bassett plays Amanda Waller and does so in such a way where she could easily relish in playing the fearsome version from the comics. Many people would like to say Blake Lively is terrible, but they’re wrong about that; the story only allows her to play sincerity and confusion at the chaotic way Hal Jordan affects her character’s life.
Mark Strong provides the most worthwhile supporting character in Thaal Sinestro. In the comics, Sinestro was once regarded as the greatest of the Green Lanterns. Strong’s role in this movie is to be just that, the ultimate and best the corps can offer, even if it might mean the end of everything the Green Lanterns stand for. It’s through Sinestro that we see what a Green Lantern is supposed to do, the fights they’re supposed to fight and the struggles they must face. The plot in many ways centers on Sinestro when Hal is training or on Earth, so it is left to Sinestro to deal with almost everything. There is a scene with Sinestro part way through the credits and fans of the comic will see it coming halfway through the movie. I felt, to a degree, the movie was an exercise designed just to make this scene happen.
Unfortunately, as cool as the visual of that scene is, it feels clunky and out of place. Within the context of the film, it feels like one of the heroes chooses to lose after they’ve already won. I don’t blame this on the acting or the directing, and the special effects guys are doing what they can to hit a home run. The problem is the pacing and there are times when it’s just rough. The introduction of Hector Hammond comes about a third of the way into the movie, so the principal villain feels like he’s been dropped into the movie and the audience is expected to just catch up.
The action scenes are great and there’s a lot of potential. A few times, it feels like Green Lantern is trying to be two different movies, one a character piece styled after Iron Man (going as far to try and rip that movie’s music off), the other a large science fiction tale reaching down to touch humanity for the first time. Overall, Green Lantern is a good movie, but not a great one.
Before I wrap this up, I want to mention what comes directly after the end credits. It’s not an extra scene, that’s about three minutes into the end credits. After the full credits have rolled, there’s a single screen informing moviegoers that there are Green Lantern comic books. They show the covers for several of the Geoff Johns trades, which gave the ad a completeness most comic book movies don’t have. Too often, the final product of superhero properties is the big-budget motion picture, but DC has decided to use this movie as an opportunity to tell the masses that there are comic books and that they should read them. It was a nice touch and I hope DC keeps doing that, tailoring it to the movie the ad is attatched to.