While I can admit that the film had its imperfections, I cannot remember the last time that I watched a movie and felt as though I was a kid again. From the psychedelic cosmos (yes, I saw it in 3-D) during the opening credits to the self-referential humor that alleviated the translation of the comic book’s more absurd aspects, the film never took itself too seriously. Of course, it did not hurt to have the innately charming Ryan Reynolds as the lead, lending his quick wit *cough cough - and rock-hard abs - cough cough* to the beloved DC character.
As an audience member, I was not focused on continuity, plot development, performances, or even production value; I found myself just having fun. (Perhaps, a bit of my attention was focused on these areas... but just a bit.) To me, Green Lantern was a live-action version of Green Lantern: First Flight, despite the obvious plot differences. Ultimately, I felt as though I was watching a cartoon, one that was appealing to adult audiences in wit and depth while accessible to kids in that really-cool-but-I-probably-won’t-fully-understand-it-until-I-am-older kind of way. The film did not shy away from its scarier moments, though, as the Parallax character could easily have shaken the nerves of younger viewers. To be honest, the first appearance of the character gave me the same thrill as seeing the ghost in the library from Ghostbusters or Large Marge’s post-accident face in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.
Overall, the performances in the film were stellar, with a few unfortunate exceptions. As previously stated, Ryan Reynolds capably portrayed test pilot Hal Jordan, a character that demands a charismatic actor who could believably teeter between irresponsible rogue and dashing hero (think Han Solo). Although Reynolds carried the weight of the film, actors Mark Strong and Peter Sarsgaard demonstrated that fine actors can turn any script into a Shakespearean performance. Strong’s portrayal of Sinestro, the eventual nemesis of Hal Jordan, provided a depth of character that may not otherwise have been present in the screenplay. (By the way, did anyone else notice that he did not blink during the entire movie? A minor detail, indeed, but it certainly added intensity to the character.) While the writers chose to withhold Sinestro’s villainy for the sequel, I felt as though Strong may have been underused in this film. In addition, Peter Sarsgaard’s portrayal of Hector Hammond was absolutely astonishing; in fact, the anguish and pain that Sarsgaard infused into his character elevated Green Lantern to a higher level of quality and entertainment than it ever could have aspired.
Sadly, there were two performances that seem to be the result of miscasting, misdirection, and the inability of Hollywood writers to create strong female characters. Blake Lively’s portrayal of Carol Ferris, the strong-willed test pilot who is somewhat superior to Hal Jordan (being that she is the heir to the Ferris Aerospace corporation), could not have been more dismal. Lively was no more believable as a fearless fighter pilot than I am as a sumo wrestler. To take an analogy from Fanboy Comics staffers Bryant Dillon and Sam Rhodes, Carol Ferris should have been what Kelly McGillis brought to her role in Top Gun: a force to be reckoned with when it came down to business. Lively amounted to no more than a talking set piece that required constant costume changes into the most revealing and uncharacteristic dresses possible. While this may not have been entirely Lively’s fault, I believe that various other actresses could have done more with what little depth the script provided.
In the second disappointing performance of the film, Angela Bassett as Dr. Amanda Waller seemed oddly corny and weak-willed, which is uncharacteristic of an actress of Bassett’s caliber as well as the character itself. In the comics, Waller was equivalent to Marvel’s Nick Fury; she was a woman who possessed no superpowers but who remained a powerful foe. In fact, IGN named her the 60th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time in 2009. In Green Lantern, Bassett amounted to no more than a “yes-woman” doctor in heels and a short skirt. Given that I have often wished that Bassett was cast as Storm in Bryan Singer’s X-Men, it was unfortunate to see Bassett so underused and (what I can only hope was) misdirected.
My final thoughts on the film have to do with its marketing. I will be the first to admit that I was not impressed by the 2011 SDCC footage of the film, nor was I intrigued by the various trailers. In fact, I feel that the marketing of Green Lantern may have been its biggest misstep. Although we have been seeing posters and trailers for weeks, if not months, I think that kids (ages 6 and up) should have been more heavily marketed towards as the target audience. I was very entertained by the film but feel as though this would have been even more engaging for kids. It was exciting and intelligent for both kids and adults, which is missing from a great many children’s movies as of late. If I were a parent, I would feel comfortable taking my kids to this movie. (I can only assume that moms would not terribly mind watching a half-naked Ryan Reynolds for two-and-a-half hours.)
Well, folks, there you have it. My first (mostly) positive movie review! Whether you see it in 3-D or 2-D, Green Lantern is a great comic book movie for all ages.