Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Green Lantern

I have yet to read any critical analysis of this film, because I wanted to post my pure, unfiltered thoughts on the film. However, I have the feeling that this film was not well received, and, considering I quite liked it, I will probably be in the minority. Therefore, I will probably end up having to defend it to people, which is kind of a bummer, because there are already so many things I have taken upon myself to defend.

Considering I have not read critical reviews of this film, there may be things that I didn't notice that will reduce the film in my eyes. So, after writing this, I will probably read what others have written and see how that affects my opinion. I think I do have a tendency to gloss over the negative parts of movies and focus only on the positives, which tends to make my movie-going experience more enjoyable while making critical analysis a bit difficult.

There is also the fact that I have read many of the books this comic was based on, particularly Geoff Johns work with Green Lantern, specifically Green Lantern: Rebirth and Green Lantern: Secret Origin, both of which I believe were influences on this film. The fact that I really enjoyed both of these stories might also be clouding my judgment, in that I may be inserting things about those comics that I liked into my view of the film story and not judging the film on it's own merits.

But enough preface. Let's get down to brass tacks. (Where does that phrase come from anyway?)

I feel that the strongest thing about Green Lantern is it's sense of theme. The theme is clear almost from the beginning and is well-explored throughout the film. The theme, of course, is about overcoming fear. As Sinestro says, fear is the enemy of willpower. Will moves towards action, while fear moves towards inaction. It is easy to pretend that you don't have fear, but that only increases its power over you. Courage is not a lack of fear, but an overcoming of fear. The mistake the other Lanterns and the Guardians make is believing they lack fear, thus completely giving into it. By accepting he is afraid, but fighting against that fear allows Hal to defeat Parallax: an obvious and clear symbol for fear. This theme is explored very well in the movie, so I will not go on further.

The film makes excellent use of parallel father figures. Hal's own biological father represents something he can't seem to ever live up to. Hal sees his father as a fearless and perfect pilot, and can only see his own fear and failings as a result. Hal gains another father figure in Abin-Sur, whom he instinctively tries to save when he finds him crashed (a very nice parallel to the death of his own father.) He is thrust into the Green Lantern corps, and once again finds himself an inadequate replacement for a great hero. However, he ultimately realizes what made both of his father figures so great was not that they didn't feel fear, but that they didn't let their fear control them. As a result, he suddenly finds himself not only living up to their example, but exceeding it.

There is one other father figure in the film. The father of Hal's foil, Hector Hammond. Hector can't seem to live up to his father's expectations, and his father is fully aware of it. Unlike Hal, though, Hector gives into his fear of inadequacy and lashes out hatefully against his father, ultimately being consumed by fear and rage.

The love story is... passable. It's not particularly riveting, but also doesn't take too much time away from the other stuff in the movie. I feel like there was a missed opportunity to make it more interesting by following the comic's example and having Hal have trouble connecting with Carol because he blames her father for his father's death. Of course, they do successfully manage to tie the love story into the overall theme of the movie by suggesting that Hal has a powerful fear of commitment which he eventually overcomes. The fact that they knew each other since they were children and had a failed relationship before the movie makes the romance not feel contrived, unlike the love story in Thor.

The trailers for this film left me a little concerned that they weren't going to make very good use of the constructs. I thought that it would mostly be shooting balls of green light for most of the movie. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this was not the case. The appeal of the Green Lantern ring is that it is limited only by the imagination of the wearer. They managed very successfully to capture that and had some very creative constructs that made the fight scenes very unique and imaginative.

The climax was... Anticlimactic isn't the right word, because it was definitely climactic in a dramatic and thematic sense. But... it was very... quick, I suppose. Yeah, that's how I would describe it. The final battle with Parallax was over surprisingly quickly. I'm not sure that this is necessarily a problem, more an interesting biproduct of modern film. We are used to these summer blockbusters having long, drawn out climaxes, so one that gets the job done quickly is jarring.

Ultimately, I can think of very little to say against the film. Perhaps some more negative things will be pointed out to me by others, but my initial thoughts: good, not exceptional. This is far from my favorite movie of the summer so far (that honor would have to go to Midnight in Paris), or even my favorite superhero flick (X-Men is the one to beat. Curious to see if Captain America will manage it.) But Green Lantern is still a fun movie that takes its central theme very seriously and manages to be fun while doing it.

  • I feel like DC really wants this film to be their Iron Man. Unfortunately, I don't think that's going to happen. While Green Lantern was a fun showcase of a comics character that the general public are less aware of, like Iron Man, this film lacks that sense of freshness and wonder that we got to see in Iron Man.
  • It's clear that they want to make a sequel, with the Sinestro stinger at the end.  Assuming they can make a sequel, I wonder how it would go.  Is it still going to be about Hal, or would we get to meet any of the other earth lanterns from the comics.  Kyle Rainer, Guy Gardner, John Stewert?
  • I thought the CGI was very well done and very convincing.  In particular, I thought the design of Parallax was very cool and unique.
  • The Bzzd cameo was great.  I wonder if we will get to see Mogo in a future film.
  • Ryan Reynolds did alright as Hal Jordan, but I still think it's unfair that he gets to play two superheroes. (Deadpool and Green Lantern.)  I mean Chris Evans is already pushing it by playing the Human Torch AND Captain America, but at least they don't seem to planning another Fantastic Four movie.

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