I was thrilled for Green Lantern. I believe I’ve mentioned several times how much Geoff Johns’ recent run has really made him one of my favorite DC characters. Not to mention that there’s a movie of a DC character who isn’t Batman or Superman so rarely that anything else they do is practically an event. Last time was Jonah Hex and uh…we don’t speak of that movie (we do speak of the comic, though). And I’ll just get to the point outright: Marvel had 3 movies in 2011, all of them based around origins, and Green Lantern can’t even compete with any of them.
Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is a pilot at Ferris Airfields, when he gets brought to the crash site of Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison), a dying alien who gives him the Green Lantern ring. Shortly after, Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard) dissects Abin and happens to be infected with part of what killed him, Parallax, the embodiment of fear. And as he gets transformed, he also acts as a beacon that brings Parallax to Earth (I think this might’ve been meant to be a plot twist, but it was in all the trailers, so whatever).
I’ll put this out there right now: I’m often a person that fights against the “they changed it, now it sucks” mentality of adaptations. Of course they have to change things. You just have to look at it in a way where you see if it still fits with the general themes and style of the work. This is the logical work, but at the same time, it’s very easy to get emotional about this kind of stuff, feeling betrayed that your favorite work gets put on the big screen and they screwed every detail up. So I can’t look at this objectively compared to somebody who sees the movie with little to no familiarity of Green Lantern. The next paragraph shall be me complaining about specific changes, in what might be seen as that phenomenon we call “fanboy rage”. Feel free to move to the paragraph after for more movie-specific problems.
Because seriously, guys, what the hell? Let’s start with the fact that Parallax’s backstory has been changed from a pure entity of fear to actually having a physical-ish body. This also changes it from a yellow space bug to what looks like Swamp Thing crossed with an octopus in space. It’s just as ridiculous as it sounds. This was vaguely based on the Secret Origin storyline (an updated version of Green Lantern’s origin), but besides dealing with his origin and featuring Hammond, I don’t see why they bothered. They even made Hammond more of a stereotypical nerdy loser than the tragic figure he was in the comic as he got transformed. This leads to it feeling like he becomes villainous for the sake of being a villain. In the end of the movie, Hal defeats Parallax by himself. HELL NO. In Rebirth, it took 5 Green Lanterns (which was the entire Corps at the time…it’s a long story) and a Master to CONTAIN Parallax. Apparently they were originally going to have some of the Corps come in and help, but they decided it would make Hal more heroic to defeat Parallax by himself. This doesn’t work, and all I wanted was to see more of the Corps. In fact, the Corps barely even shows up. This despite the fact that Geoffery Rush voices Tomar-Re and Michael Clarke Duncan voices Kilowog, yet they only get minor roles. We don’t even get a full montage of Kilowog training Hal. The rest of the vast Corps makes token appearances at best. Parallax is initially headed for Oa, which would’ve made an awesome battle, but he gets side-tracked to Earth instead. It’s like they didn’t want cool things to happen in the movie. And then we just get to the “Why?” changes, like Abin crashing in the ocean instead of the desert, and Amanda Waller’s entire existence here. She’s the head of the Suicide Squad and the warden of Belle Reve prison in the DC Universe. She barely has a connection to Green Lantern. Why even put her in the movie?
Now that that’s over, it’s time for more technically flawed problems. The CGI just doesn’t work as well as it should, and the suit is a particular offender. The almost organic-looking suit is interesting in concept, but in execution it doesn’t work and just doesn’t look good. The movie also doesn’t know where to spend its time. It brings us to Oa, which is exciting and cool-looking, and then it takes us back to boring old Earth. Even looking past fanboyism, I would’ve just loved more of Oa. I would’ve loved more aliens and joy and wonder. Warner Bros tried to market this as the next Star Wars. This isn’t even Turkish bootleg Star Wars. Really, the problem with Earth is that it slows the movie to a halt. In one scene, Hal is being whisked away to Oa, flying through space. The movie constantly kills the momentum by cutting back to Hammond messing around. About half the movie is given to Hammond, and at the end of the day I could care less about him. There’s also a party scene that takes too long to get to where it’s going, does nothing for the movie, and ultimately has an absolutely ridiculous scene which is sadly also the first time Hal does something heroic…over an hour into the movie. This isn’t even origin problems. Origin movies can be perfectly exciting and full of superheroics. This is a Green Lantern problem.
I really don’t see how we’re ever going to get a DC Universe on-screen at this rate. Poor pacing, little faith towards the comics, laughable writing. A few years ago, the straight-to-DVD animated movie Green Lantern: First Flight was released. Pick that up. It’s what this movie could’ve, should’ve been, but just wasn’t.