Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Green Lantern" review: flat and lifeless with a bad script, bad dialogue and bad acting

Wow! How incredibly forgettable! This was a movie I was kind of looking forward to but holding out a bit because it came across like a big video game. The final trailer right before the film's release looked promising, however. I actually read the comics pretty regularly in the mid-80's and was somewhat of a fan.

Then came the onslaught of some really bad reviews.

We had tickets and were planning to go this past weekend when suddenly we found ourselves in U-turn land thinking perhaps we should wait a week for word of mouth, opting to go see something else. Ultimately we decided 'what the hell' after hearing that perhaps if we put our expectations in the basement we'd get something out of the experience.

That didn't help at all.

Nothing resonates in this movie. The script needed to be much better, having our characters live in a grounded yet fantastical world split between the deep space planet of Oa and here on Earth. Instead we are constantly bouncing back and forth without dramatic depth. Ryan Reynolds is fine as Hal Jordan, but if you're going to have someone like Reynolds in the lead role at least let his humor and charm roam a bit. There's not much of it in this movie and the only two spots where you do see it are the clips they showed in the trailer when 1) he's trying to do the oath in front of the lamp and 2) he turns to Blake Lively's Carol Ferris during the big climactic battle, saying ''. Other than that, nothing particularly memorable about his performance, which is too bad because I really thought he was a good choice for the role!

There's absolutely no connection or passion in Hal and Carol's romance. Just two people going through the motions. In fact none of the character interactions seem to matter, as Jordan is spirited off to The Guardians home world of Oa to begin his training as a Green Lantern. This, of course, after a Green Lantern Corps member named Abin Sur crash lands on Earth and has his ring locate a being to replace him after being mortally wounded in combat. The origin is very faithful to the comic book and the gallery of Corps members we ultimately see is a great representation and interpretation of that source material. Unfortunately, that's where my appreciation for this movie ends.

Visual effects are fine, but sometimes only passable. Several scenes involving speaking aliens show the limitations the production put on making mouths look as realistic as possible. At times they come off rubbery and like a video game. I always felt from the very beginning that the CG of the mask as well as the actual design wasn't very good. The giant movie screen only multiplied that feeling. It's absolutely part of Green Lantern's iconic costume. Here it just looked like Chris O'Donnell's Robin mask in "Batman and Robin".

As far as the actions scenes were concerned, when we approached the first big smach-down I thought, 'O.K. here we go!' But even those play without any major heft or excitement. Kind of on par with "Fantastic Four". The big reveal scene where Hal Jordan must save a crowd of people from a crashing helicopter should have played out with much more anticipation, not unlike when Lois Lane hung from the helicopter in "Superman, The Movie". Instead it just seems to come and go with some pop and flash but nothing really that amazing.

We pretty much decided a while back not to see this movie in 3D because, quite frankly, we're getting off the 3D bandwagon like a lot of other people...but that's another story.

Very early on I said that they needed to kind of take the "Iron Man" approach a little; Hal learning to use the suit and keeping the story grounded on Earth. Then, only in the third act would we actually become aware of The Guardians and planet Oa...not blowing the wad with a full-on Corps gathering. I guess what I'm trying to say is something along the lines of a "Greatest American Hero" angle only more dramatic and action oriented. So what do they do?

'Let's go into space right away!'
'Let's see everything in the the first movie and not hold back!'

Bad, overloaded idea.

I didn't bring a lot of expectation-baggage into the theater and after the shitty reviews felt disappointed but not like I'd truly lost anything of major value. Who knows...maybe in a few years they'll try a reboot, like so many other franchises do these days. It's funny because that's the kind of thing you'd never see even just 10 years ago. Once something crashed and burned that was the end of it...bye-bye.

Unfortunately "Green Lantern" never quit brings you into the fantastical story the way it should have, instead turning up the eye-candy level to 11. Even though it does have a couple of extreme moments for little kids, they are the only ones who will probably enjoy this movie.


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