Everything that Was Wrong (and Some Things that Were Right) with “Green Lantern”

            Though “Green Lantern” has gotten nearly universally negative reviews (particularly among comic book fans), the movie wasn’t the complete creative abortion some would have you believe. True, Hal Jordan’s initiation is rushed, Parallax was introduced far too early, and every attempt the film makes to be glib only serves to grind it further into the superficial mess of mediocrity that it is. And it is bad, mind you. Really, really bad. But aspects of the film shone with a surprising brilliance, and I hope, from a writer’s standpoint, that they’re maintained when the inevitable reboot rolls around.

Wrong: Hal Jordan is the Only Talented Green Lantern

            Admittedly, he is our hero, but c’mon, are you guys really trying to say that he defeated Parallax – a creature with the power to annihilate worlds, which had previously killed EVERY Lantern it had faced before – “not despite his humanity, but because of it?” Last time I checked, you couldn’t load humanity. Also, humanity? What about the fact that these guys are powered by willpower, not kindness?

            Some have tried to argue that Hal’s true strength is his ingenuity, and that the movie only tried to showcase that Hal as an individual is simply more tactically effective than the other Lanterns. Unfortunately, such a mindset on the part of the writers harkens back to the old days of Star Trek, where it was always the awesome humans who teach the dirty, dirty aliens a lesson in being human. It’s kind of bigoted, when you think about it, and if aliens turn out to be real, we’re going to look like a bunch of self-righteous jerks.

            The thing is, there was absolutely no reason for Hal to be able to defeat Parallax by himself. He’s untrained throughout the entire film, so he is literally the absolute weakest Lantern as of the timeframe of the movie. And his ingenuity? Why would he be so much smarter than the alien guys? The idea behind the Green Lantern Corps is that each Lantern is a highly accomplished operative. Geoff Johns specifically wrote against the “nameless non-hero cannon fodder” mindset. But in this movie, apparently the Corps consists of Hal Jordan, and 3,000 dumbasses.

            Even Abin Sur and Sinestro, portrayed as extremely skilled and naturally talented, basically just point their rings and say “BANG!” at any bad guys that show up. But luckily, Hal Jordan looks like us, so it won’t confuse us too much when he gets to some thinkin’ and moralizin’.

Wrong: For an Accomplished Test Pilot, Hal Sure Suffers from a LOT of Psychological Issues

            I get it. It humanizes the hero when you show that behind the seemingly fearless façade is a complicated man with unique, personal fears to overcome. And exploring the difference between courage and fearlessness is a solid direction for the premise of the character. But when you’re crashing multi-million dollar aircraft because you randomly want to remember how your daddy died, you need to seriously reevaluate your career choice.

            In the film, Jordan’s dad died when Hal was a kid, with Hal forced to watch as his father’s plane crashed and exploded. However, in the ensuing decades, Jordan matures, faces his demons, and utilizes his intensive training to keep his emotions in check when flying in simulated combat conditions.

            Ha! Kidding. He freaks the fuck out mid-flight, and saves himself only when it is beyond possible to maybe not let the crazy-expensive plane crash and burn. Also, the film makes a point of letting you know that lots of people lose their jobs to cover the expense of the plane that Jordan annihilated. You’re so AWESOME, Hal.

            And apparently, Jordan has a habit of doing this. What, does nobody ever make a note of that glazed, faraway look he has to have every time he climbs into a flight suit? Seriously, GROUND THIS GUY. I’m pretty sure the company he works for is breaking a few laws by letting a pilot who is literally suffering from chronic post-traumatic stress disorder go “WHHEEEE!” in experimental jets.

Wrong: Parallax Was Introduced WAY Too Early. Also It’s Krona, for Some Reason

            And he looks like poop that grew dreadlocks. Seriously. Poop.

A.)  Krona is a substantial enough villain on his own, and did not need to be fused haphazardly with another character.

B.)  Parallax’s power in the comics is literally cosmic in scale. The character would have been better served showcasing a seasoned Hal Jordan’s leadership skills, especially once other Lanterns like John Stewart and Kyle Rayner had been introduced.

C.)  In the comics, Parallax is beautifully rendered as a golden-colored, insectoid space dragon. It’s terrifying. In the film, it, and I’m not kidding, looks like floating poop that grows dreadlocks. It’s supposed to look like smoke encasing a body of fire, but it doesn’t come off that way.

Wrong: Hollywood Refuses to Acknowledge the Dramatic Potential of Non-Pretentious Comic Books

            We thought we’d been saved from the days of “Superman III” and “Batman & Robin,” and actually, we can still breathe easy for a little while. But Hollywood’s recent uncharacteristic pattern of letting directors with artistic integrity (Sam Raimi, Jon Favreau, Chris Nolan) handle classic comic characters (Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Batman, respectively) briefly gave us the impression that they no longer confused stringing bright lights and loud sounds together for the ability to make movies. Moviemakers who lured audiences through actual talent gave us these characters as we’ve wanted to see them for a long, long time, and it felt really, really good.

            Tragically, Hollywood has had a relapse, and they’re currently rescinding into a mindset of punishing directors for taking these subjects seriously. They apparently can’t be bothered by the fact that the intelligently (nay, expertly) conceived “The Dark Knight” netted $1 billion dollars in revenue, and sold more tickets than “Avatar.” Nope, fluke, that’s what that was.

            They’re like that annoying, sneering bitch in high school who always called your love of comics “little kid stuff.” They’re convinced they know how the world works, even while they slide closer and closer to asking others for their cold French fries just to survive.

Wrong: Abin Sur says Exactly ZERO Words

            If I remember correctly. No, wait, he has like three lines, I think. Still, for such an important guy, they sure don’t bother concerning themselves with fleshing him out.

Wrong: Hector Hammond needed more screen time, and should have been the only villain.

            For such a solid villain, Hector Hammond is tragically reduced to a shy, stuttering nutcase, despite a promising entrance in the film as an intelligent, self-assured man who resists doing the wrong thing. Halfway through, he is leering at Blake Lively, muttering to himself, and growing daddy issues out of thin air. Also he has a goiter, for some reason. And he screams. A LOT. At first it’s out of pain from his transformation. Later, I swear he does it simply because things just kinda suck right now. Jesus, shut up.

            As a villain, Hammond could have carried the evildoer quotient fine on his own, but as it is, he is simply a throwaway putz who gets ‘et by the big beastie in the finale. Sad.

Right: The cast was Solid, Despite My Hatred of Tim Robbins. (Michael Clark Duncan was PERFECT as Kilowog, as was Geoffrey Rush as Tomar-Re

            That pretty much sums it up. Everybody did a great job, despite the God-awful attempts at glib dialogue that had been scripted for them. MCD and Captain Barbossa need to show up again when they reboot this hot mess.

Another Wrong: Everything Got Accepted Way Too Quickly in This Movie

            Seriously, upon witnessing an extraterrestrial being die directly in front of him, Hal Jordan is so immediately okay enough with what he’s witnessed that he lays his BARE HANDS on the guy and just straight-up buries him. That must have taken him hours. He probably prayed a little too. Why not, it’s customary?

            Lively immediately slips into conversational mode seconds after discovering Jordan’s cosmic alter ego, and his “nerdy” friend is inexplicably portrayed as knowledgeable about alien life forms, despite the film explicitly stating no other aliens have ever visited Earth, ever. But guys, he’s nerdy! He automatically knows this stuff!

            That’s not how it works, Hollywood. You don’t get to magically know alien technology just because you really like Star Trek.

            The whole movie was too rushed, actually, to the point that the awesome “Green Lantern Oath” failed to raise even a single goose bump on me both times it is recited.

Right: Small Scientific Details

I may be the only one who cared, but I was pleased as punch when the film visually acknowledged the fact that the Sun’s atmosphere is actually hotter than the surface itself, by way of Parallax disintegrating before actually contacting the star. Points to you, fact checker guys. Major points.

Right: The Powers Are Portrayed Really Well

            The constructs, the physical embodiment of the power of the Green Lanterns, was done well. Very well. Imaginatively well. Though the portrayal of Parallax sucked, the techniques Jordon uses to dispatch the villain are pretty ingenious. Also, when Kilowog created a small sun, complete with its own gravity, I nerdgasmed at the attention paid to that scientific detail. I may give this movie a lot of flack otherwise, but that power ring business was WELL DONE. Jets, machine guns, jackhammers…just, just SWEET.

            Except the Hot Wheels track he creates to save a crashing chopper. That part was stupid.

            That part was really stupid.

            That part was tremendously stupid, actually.

–          Sean

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3 Comments

Filed under A Writer's Take on Movies

3 responses to “Everything that Was Wrong (and Some Things that Were Right) with “Green Lantern”

  1. Jezabelle Sweetbottom

    You forgot to mention that Ryan Reynolds is incredibly dreamy

    so tasty

    J. SweetBritches

  2. And Blake Lively’s surprising tastiness as well. Why doesn’t she just look like that all the time?

  3. Jezabelle Sweetbottom

    Because there isn’t much that a 200 million dollar budget cant fix, including ugly.

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