The Anchor Panel: The Green Lantern Movie
Welcome back to the Anchor Panel in 2012. We made it, the Mayans were wrong, and we are still going to take a run at tackling various elements of comic culture. Anth, how you living?
In constant fear of December 12th, Yellowstone's super volcano is overdue man. The world will forget our existence as nature retakes our cities in mere decades, leaving nothing but crumbled ruins as humanity's last testament. Let's say I've had the time to watch some Discovery over the break.
To ease us back into it, we've decided to settle an old score for this month's discussion. As you'll recall (wishful thinking, I'm sure) back when the site launched, we reviewed the 2011 crop of summer comic book movies. And well...
Half of the Panel decided to veto one of the four movies we had decided to review and wing it.
That's right. And now, I've buckled and agreed to watch Green Lantern with Anth. All for the benefit of an entertaining column, I assure you all.
So we decided to give this movie the royal AP treatment. Not exactly my first choice for a re-watch, but hell since I've already re-watched Captain America, let's give this a go.
Let's not forget that I'm the one sacrificing here. The things I do for the Panel!
Alright, enough! Watching as a complete GL rookie, this sci-fi setting is novel. The Universe is policed by heroes who can control the green stuff. Cool premise and sweet effects, I'll bite.
Yeah, while it gets a bit overly complex (and of course, there is too much voiceover narration), at its core - the Green Lantern story is a cool one. Condensing it into a 5 minute intro is a bit tough, though.
The origin intro for Hal Jordan was delivered very smoothly. The old hero dies, we know his successor isn't chosen under perfect circumstances, but this fact helps thrust us forward fully invested in Hal's struggle to prove his intergalactic mettle.
Smoothly? More like overly familiar. He's the most reckless fighter pilot in town! Oooh, but he has sad feelings about his past, and daddy issues! His boss is vaguely menacing, and there is sexual tension with his female coworker! Cliches! Exclamation marks!
OK but please educate me, you just said the GL story is a cool one... so is this what the protagonist is in the comics or have we wildly deviated from Hal Jordan's origin story?
Ok, ok, I'll ease off the main story dog pile for now and confirm that the depiction of Jordan feels fairly accurate. Bold pilot, strong will, etc. Hal meets an alien, gets the ring, goes to Oa. We meet some familiar faces including Kilowog and Sinestro.
What about this Sinestro guy - red faced with a thin 'stache, I swore I smelled a betrayal from the get-go. Pleasantly surprised by that disappointment, but I'm told if there is a sequel, I will be vindicated.
Spoiler alert: That guy whose name is derivative of the word 'sinister' eventually turns out to be evil.
In any case, I would support that Mo, bro. So what about atmosphere - does the movie capture this comic's tone, mood etc?
Editor's Note: See your doctor for your yearly checkup.
Cliches aside (and my god, there are a lot of them), the movie hit the usual Green Lantern touchstones. We have Ferris Aviation, and some whiz bang daredevil touches. Oa is suitably alien, though a bit drab. As an aside, I will admit that I do like Ryan Reynolds for the role of Jordan and I can't kill him for doing what he could to make the movie entertaining.
Fighter pilot ace, commitment issues, snappy sarcasm and abs. I'm no casting expert, but you can't have picked a better suited pop actor to don that liquid latex.
I won't get into that weird CGI mask and costume (and I'll leave your appreciation of Hal's abs alone). Instead, I will commend Peter Sarsgaard for hamming it up like crazy while getting to wear some truly delightful makeup. Let's talk about Hector Hammond and his dastardly machinations.
So I get it, you've gotta have the mini boss before the climactic final confrontation (taste defeat, rise up, rinse and repeat), but the bits with this Hector bordered on deliberate mental sabotage. How the hell does HJ use his power in their standoff without his ring? Was the ring a dud and the power was really in him all along?
Mental sabotage? Are you talking about the affect this movie has on your brain or the wild telekinesis-powered attempts of patricide by our blobby villain? In fact, a better question is how a movie with so much back-story still manages to not properly explain how the ring (the key element of the film!) works consistently.
I'll concede there were more than a few 'omg 4 realz?' moments. But a high cheese factor as well as delivering enough back-story to make a superhero's debut big screen foray impactful is always problematic in comic-to-movie translations. The film is rank with the scent of sequel, do you think some poorly selected cuts may have caused this to fall short of expectations?
Definitely, to say the least. Once Hector Hammond incinerated his father (Sorry, Tim Robbins) and was then obliterated himself, I lost interest in a potential sequel. I know in our original column our editor confirmed a sequel was in the works, but I feel like this franchise has already stumbled out of the gate.
Yeah, tricking a big glob to follow you close to the sun as your coup de grace cheapened the malice Parallax controlled through the film. This thing used to travel through space routinely, so I assumed he would know to avoid stars!
Oh, the potential punch lines! Our hero, Hal Jordan, punching a huge yellow skull... into the sun. Why do I have this feeling there are many Green Lantern fans that would like to do the same thing to this movie?
After a second round, the pitfalls you've brought up here were more prevalent to me. I feel on my first view, I was caught up enjoying the captivating - and at times exhilarating - exposure to a fresh sci-fi universe. Green Lantern had me averting my critical eye so not to bog down my imagination.
Anth, this is where you make me feel guilty for going so negative. It's true that you can sort of skip along the surface of this movie and enjoy it (and Ryan Reynolds' abs, apparently) but upon closer inspection you start to see the weird inconsistencies and obvious cliche devices.
Not a stellar film by any measure, but in the end it delivered what I (a casual fan) was hoping for: a chance to see the alluring world of Green Lantern without having read any of the books. In 1.5 hours, we scratched its surface, and this may actually inspire me to dig a little deeper some time in the future.
Ah yes, it is a rare film that motivates people to read instead. What a piece of work. Bah, let's move on and meet up again in April to watch the Avengers together. Your boy Whedon won't let us down right!?
First time for everything... but here's hoping.