Green Lantern (UK - DVD R2)
In brightest day, in blackest night Marcus thinks the GL movie is a load of..
Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is a cocky test pilot who takes too many chances in a plane but not all that many in his life. His life is about to change. Discovering the wrecked ship of dying purple alien Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) the mysterious other worlder passes Hal a green power ring and tells him that the ring has chosen him to be a Green Lantern. Soon Hal is shooting off to space with the aid of the new ring's powers and he meets the rest of the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic force for good and it's explained to him that with this ring he must protect his sector (Earth) and if he can overcome fear, his abilities combined with his ring’s power are limitless.
Warner Bros. finally taking the bull by the horns and creating a DC Comics movie that isn't Batman or Superman is a bloody long time coming. Why this didn't happen after Superman was huge in the seventies or after Batman was huge from the eighties onwards is beyond me. Especially when the X-Men kicked the superhero movie doors in in 2000 and Marvel Comics adaptations starting to come at us every year. Anyway they finally did it and Green Lantern with all his space battles and funky powers seemed a pretty good place for a starting point.
The build up to this movie was a series of hits and misses. Ryan Reynolds getting cast was a great idea. He just looks right - he has Hal's hair after all. The reveal of the all computer generated suit however was a massive head scratcher. The sort of organic look to it and how skinny fit it is made for an odd design choice for me and anyone that winces every time they see the clone troopers in Revenge of the Sith walking around with a real Temuera Morrison head and computer generated body knows of the odd visuals this combination can create. Not to mention the eyes that most of the time make Hal look cross-eyed or blind and the actual mask covering most of the nose as well. It's just a bad design all round. Also the reveal that Parallax was going to be the main villain didn't sit right with me, mainly because I hate all there is to hate about Parralax (post it being Hal's bad guy name) which I've aired in previous Green Lantern animated movie reviews but this was a personal thing. Blake Lively was a welcome addition to the casting (if only for eye candy), Tim Robbins being cast seemed like it could work and of course the big forehead, dodgy moustache combo with Peter Sarsgaard was immediately odd. So a year or so later and after a rousing and uber cool delivery of the Green Lantern oath at Comic-con from Reynolds, what's the final result?
Let's take this step by step. MILD SPOILERS AHEAD FOLKS - YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! The kinetic opening with Abin Sur in space is some fun stuff and Hal seems a cool guy in his test pilot scenes. Everything seems to be coming together quite nicely and setting the scene. The jet crash doesn't result in Hal finding the downed space ship and being handed the ring, which seems very odd, instead we get some family stuff (that never comes up again) and then whoosh out of nowhere Hal has a green sphere of light around him and he’s being whisked off to the crash site. Okay, so this makes the bits between the plane crash and now seem totally pointless but it's still all good superhero stuff thus far. Next up, coming to terms with the ring, which Reynolds carries with his dramatic guy/comedic guy routine pretty well even if the white eyes switch is dumb. The trip to Oa opens the story right up and offers up a hint of what a good sequel might be able to muster up but I have to say Reynolds makes all this feel undramatic and a little goofy especially against Mark Strong's solid take on Sinestro. Moving through the other cast input, Blake Lively continuously looks great doing nothing and I find it funny that even Hal's best friend played by the brutally underused Taika Waititi even takes a pop at how weak the show of the ring's power is in its first public appearance (way to take a pop at the film's weaknesses screenwriters). However the real silliness begins with just how much suspension of belief you need to accept that Peter Sarsgaard is Tim Robbin's son all while he looks ten years older than anyone in the film.
If I'm honest I thought I lost the will to carry on long before now on my first viewing back in the summer but I was quite surprised that I was still pretty much enjoying Green Lantern a good hour into the runtime. Then comes the party scene and the first public reveal of Green Lantern and its pretty much downhill from there. Peter Sarsgaard's baddie is terrible. Utterly utterly terrible and proves without a doubt that a superhero flick is only as good as its villain, so the uphill struggle begins. Every scene with Sarsgaard sucks. When he fights Hal, when his head gets bigger, when no one freaks out over his new deformities, everything feels campy and pure nonsense so by the time the CG overkill of the finale comes around and Parralax rolls up again I've just given up caring and the mixture of weak drama, dull action and losing all interest in the plot. It's a shame that Green Lantern himself doesn't step up to win it back.
I'm not saying Ryan Reynolds is always brilliant, he's not, but he's usually quite reliable and being handed a potentially massive franchise like this seemed like this could be his time to shine. The story tries to lay all this weight at his door about being a man full of fear and overcoming it but he never feels afraid. I mean he meets a dying alien, he shoots off to space in a green sphere, he meets thousands of other aliens and gets picked on by Kilowog. Sinestro gives him the stink eye all the time, he becomes part of the Corps, he comes back and makes terrible constructs with his new power ring and in amongst all this he's cracking one liners and cocky comebacks like the Ryan Reynolds we all know. Seriously this man feels unphased by all this new crazy ass stuff in his life so to then say he’s failing because of fear is bloody ridiculous. It's even more ridiculous when he then schools the little blue dudes about how he knows fear and tries to give a rousing speech.
Really this is what kills the Green Lantern movie dead. There's no real drama, there's no real weight and in the centre you have chipper Hal Jordan taking nothing seriously and not really coming off as a hero to take seriously either. Now with all that said I can't claim to be the biggest Hal Jordan expert. Don't get me wrong I love Hal but my fondest attachments to him are made up of him going rogue, then going really balls out bad during Zero Hour and beyond and then the odd arc where he meets up with then new Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner. I don't really have enough experience with full working Green Lantern Hal to know for sure if this depiction is based on any sort of comic book blueprint or what not (judging by GL in the new DC 52 Justice League #1 he does seem a bit of a douche - so maybe this movie version was intentional). All I'm saying is in a movie world where characters like Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and of course Batman are all adapted for a modern audience Green Lantern aims low and this movie feels much more like those nineties superhero flicks that went straight to video or TV ( Flash, Steel, Justice League) and distinctly out of touch with our current riding high superhero movies.
I mentioned Batman and Robin before but the film actually looks more like Batman Forever. The electric green colours against black backdrops and big bright neon colouring make this entire movie feel pretty goofy. It's not all that way as before the ring shows up the bright colours are warm and make for a pretty looking popcorn flick. As for the presentation for the DVD, the chasm between good DVD and good Blu-ray seems to be widening. This DVD looks awful for the most part. It's too dark, detail is thin even in well lit close ups and some of the special effects here look awful (though I'm sure the Blu-ray probably makes that element worse).
Other than the standard definition issues, the image appears grain free, has a nice palette of bright colours and keeps a hold of them pretty well. It's just the darkness of the image and the total lack of pop that just makes this presentation looks dated and pretty unimpressive.
Well the wannabe Superman score is mediocre but it sounds pretty great on the track. Music sits balanced and doesn't stay confirmed to the rear speakers. Dialogue is clear, effects sound punchy and strong and there's a few added layers that produce a bit more spark to the sounds of the ring. That said, ambience is pretty thin and other than a few moments there's not much in the way of widespread action across speakers so while it's a strong track it's not a very active one.
This big budget summer movie not only disappointed on the big screen it continues to disappoint on home release. While the Blu-ray has a selection of extras, the DVD offfers up almost nothing.
The preview of the Green Lantern Animated Series (06:12) doesn't do much to impress and the preview of the Justice League #1 shows off the DC 52 comic in a good little motion comic-ish form zooming in from panel to panel.
The Green Lantern movie isn't the worst film of the year but it's certainly one of the most disappointing. The first step in the DC Universe's attempts to catch up with the ever expanding Marvel movie universe and any hope of a Justice League movie being anything to get excited about feels more like we've gone back a step to the boring Batman Forever days as opposed to trying to match The Dark Knight. This movie is just a bit dull. Not at first but the last act just washed over me with raging indifference (even if the yellow ringed Sinestro teaser in the credits made me lift an interested eyebrow for the sequel). Kids might go for it a bit more than adults (mine didn't and they love superheroes) but somehow Green Lantern feels under-served here and treated as a gag that no one could muster up a bit of dramatic backbone for.
As for the disc, it's pretty standard DVD stuff with some strong colours visually and good but not all that exciting audio. As for the features, there ain't any specific to the movie and the two teasers for other DC projects are pretty weak.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over
Release Date: 17th October 2011
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, English (With Descriptive Service) Dolby Digital 5.1 ItalianItalian
Subtitles: English, Italian, Dansk, Suomi, Islenska, Norsk, Svenska
Extras: Green Lantern Animated teaser, Justice League #1 Teaser
Easter Egg: No
Director: Martin Campbell
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Mark Strong
Genre: Action, Drama and Fantasy
Length: 108 minutes
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