Friday, June 24, 2011

Movie – Green Lantern (2011)

Green Lantern is a movie about the DC Comics character of that name that has been around for more than fifty years.  Never as popular or well known as Superman and Batman, DC never made a live action movie about the character until now.  If Marvel can have successful movies about second tier heroes like Ironman and Thor, then DC should be able to do the same thing, right?  It depends on who you talk to.  Critics say no; audiences and I say yes.

The premise is that Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is a test pilot for plane manufacturer Ferris Industries.  Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) is also a pilot, but is being groomed to take over the company by her father.  They’ve known each other since they were little, and were involved at one point, but are both single now.

There is a prologue that explains that the Green Lantern Corps protects the universe, how the ring works, and much more that viewers will need to know to follow the movie.  They establish that there is an evil being that feeds on fear that threatens everyone.  A Green Lantern is mortally injured by this evil, but manages to make his way to Earth.  He has his ring seek out the most worthy person to wield it after his death.  The ring picks Hal Jordan.

At first it seems like there has been a big mistake.  Jordan is more a playboy who is enjoying life than he is someone who is responsible enough for the job.  I should mention this now – Jordan is much more in the Tony Stark (Ironman) mold than he is Peter Parker (Spider-Man) or Bruce Wayne (Batman.)  He is charming.  He jokes a lot.  He flirts with women.  He doesn’t take things seriously.  He comes to learn that he needs to grow up.

There is much more to the movie.  They actually pack a lot into the hour and forty-five minute running time.  The movie is a lot more “cosmic” than I had expected from the trailer.  By that I mean that a big chunk of the movie happens off of Earth.

In many ways this is practically the same movie as Thor, so why did critics like that movie (80% at Rotten Tomatoes), while not liking Green Lantern (29% at Rotten Tomatoes)?  By the way, audiences voted Thor 3.9 out of 5, while Green Lantern is 3.4 out of 5.  That is still a preference for Thor, but not anywhere near the huge margin of the critics.

I believe the answer is simple – Thor got there first.  By the time Green Lantern came along it did not feel as new as Thor did because people had seen Thor just a month or so before.

How are the movies similar?  Both are about heroes that have had a secondary popularity at their companies to better liked characters such as Spider-Man and Batman.  Both characters are far more “cosmic” in their approach – Thor as a god (or in the movie as an alien from an advanced race) and Green Lantern as a member of an intergalactic corps of peace keepers.  Both have tools they employ – Thor his hammer and Green Lantern his ring.  Both movies show the characters having to become worthy of wielding those tools.

There are differences, of course.  Thor starts out arrogant and impetuous before learning humility, while Hal Jordan starts out not caring about much, and letting his fears sometimes rule him, before learning how to master those fears.  The transition in Thor is not believable at all, while the transition in Green Lantern is marginally believable.

There are nods to the comic and to other movies.  My favorite scene is a take on the “hero meets the love interest for the first time.”  It starts out right out of Superman meeting Lois when he lands outside a window of the woman.  The scene takes a decidedly different turn as it goes along, though, and I got a big kick out of it.

Reynolds does a decent job of playing the hero.  Lively is not believable as a fighter pilot, but she looks really good and has good chemistry with Reynolds.  Mark Strong does a good job as the leader of the Green Lantern Corps.  Angela Bassett and Tim Robbins both show up in smaller supporting roles.

While this is not a great movie, it is good enough to recommend giving it a try.  I went into it expecting a really bad movie because the trailer made it look silly as hell.  I was pleasantly surprised that the movie was reasonably entertaining and that it successfully introduced the character, while still giving him something to accomplish.

If you do watch the movie, stick around through the credits for an extra scene.  It appears to be setting up a storyline for a second movie.

Chip’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

           DVD                      Blu-ray

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