Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Green Lantern (2011) – Review

Review: Green Lantern is funny, entertaining and features good work from its principal actors, but has a weak story, pointless and shallow characters and promotes wow over quality. Director Martin Campbell does a few things right. The film is for the most part entertaining because Campbell gets good performances from his cast – Hal Jordan is a lot of fun with his joking side comments. And, Campbell has the film ever moving forward with fairly tight pacing. He does not let it lag (which is something overly needed when the story and characters are poor, as with this film). Visually, the film has a decent look to it and the action mostly works well. The main villain being a blob of smoke is sort of weak though (the filmmakers probably should have remembered how much it did not work in Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer and reimagined the look for GL’s villain). Really though, it is just Hal Jordan, Carol Ferris and maybe a few side characters, the good action, light tone, and the quick pace of the film that makes this as entertaining as it surprisingly is, given that it is a fairly bad movie (probably the most fun and entertaining film I will give a five to this year). But, it is hard to overlook just how painfully insubstantial and tired the story really is and that many of the characters (like Hector Hammond) have no depth and are merely there to fill scenes and forward the plot. Sinestro could have been a great character – they had the right actor and even the right set up initially, but he is good guy until the end (only for a reveal during the credits that nope, wait a minute, he is a bad guy after all, I mean you do not hire Mark Strong and then have him not be the bad guy right?), which makes the end reveal make no sense and feel forced. This film also does not benefit from having a number of great super hero films come before it, a few even this year (with X-Men: First Class and Thor). If this had come out in the early days of new comic book movies (let us call it circa 2000-2002), it probably would have been received better. Green Lantern is maybe still worth a trip to the theatre or a rent just because it is a fun film, but ultimately it is pretty disappointing (especially given the talent involved).

Technical & acting achievements: Martin Campbell does his best work when the script is good (which is something that one could say about all directors, but Campbell is not a director to make a script his own, rather he will just shoot what is on the page in a compelling manner). The script for Green Lantern is far from good. It fails the talent of the actors and technical artists/filmmakers. But, Campbell is the director and should take the blame for the film not working (and writer/producer Greg Berlanti for creatively blundering away what could have been a great film). James Newton Howard’s score is fairly standard for the genre and has some okay moments, but overall is only passable. The production design by Grant Major is also only okay. There are a few interesting sets (though the secret lab space seems to make no sense and just be oddly grandiose and sci-fi-like for the fun of it). Dion Beebe on the other hand does good work (though, for one of the best D.P. in the business, this is probably one of his lessor films aesthetically, but he sure does a good job lighting Blake Lively, something any leading lady can appreciate). The cast for the most part is good, even with not much to do or character to work with. Geoffrey Rush (in a voice role), Temuera Morrison, and Taika Waititi (who is pretty funny in it) do good work, while Tim Robbins just sort of hams it up (and seems like he is only there for a paycheck). Mark Strong is severely underused and wasted and Peter Sarsgaard actually does pretty good work playing a character that is written with no humanity and not providing much more than a plot devise. Blake Lively is (maybe a little miscast as it seemed as though she was supposed to be the same age, or at least close in age, to Hal) strong and works well in the film. However, the best part of the whole film and the primary reason that it is enjoyable at all is Ryan Reynolds. He is very funny, charismatic and pulls off the action well.

Summary & score: Green Lantern is not much more than a throwaway summer blockbuster – big on spectacle, small on quality. 5/10

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