Monday, October 17, 2011

Green Lantern

I had such high hopes for the dramatization of one of my favorite comic books, Green Lantern. Alas, there are so many things wrong with the movie that fanboys have, for the most part, turned away.

This is an origin story, and, as such, has the usual origin story problems: it takes a long time to get started, characters are introduced that you might not see immediately thereafter, etc. The opening sequence of this movie is much too long. Still, you need to know that Hal Jordan's father died as a test pilot and that event would profoundly influence his life. But we get to live a long sequence of the event, and get to revisit it in flashbacks. For a test pilot, Hal Jordan is uniquely wimpy. You'd think they'd have psychological counseling of their pilots before they let them loose with billion dollar planes, wouldn't you?

There are also character developments that disappear, transition points that are never made. In many ways, this movie is a movie pieced together, a mess.

When Abin Sur, one of the most valiant of the Green Lantern corps, who are the peacekeepers of our part of the universe, crash lands on Earth, his ring seeks out a person with no fear: Hal Jordan. Only Jordan has plenty of fears. But as sometime-boss, sometime-girlfriend Carol Ferris points out, the courageous person is the person who can confront their fears and overcome them.

Strangely enough, the most compelling parts of the film take place on OA, the home planet of the Green Lanterns and the Guardians, who for millenia have told them what to do. That's where Hal as GL is taken for his training and indoctrination into the corps. It's great fun watching the drill sergeant of the Lanterns teach Hal how to fight. In fact, the characters in this film who are the most compelling to watch are the alien Lanterns, characters like Sinestro (played by a powerful Mark Strong), Toma-Re, a fish-like chicken biped (voiced wonderfully by Geoffrey Rush). And the purple but majestic Abin Sur (played in a lot of makeup by Temuera Morrison) , the dying Lantern who bequests his ring to a human weakling. When the camera is on any of these terrifically-drawn characters (well, only Toma-Re is animated), the movie comes to life. When it settles back down to Hal Jordan himself, it -- actually, we -- go to sleep.

I know there will be changes in the transition from comic book to live action. I can live with a different suit -- which actually was magnificently brought together by veteran costume designer Ngila Dickson -- and I can live with the loss of the white gloves. It was great to see the supporting characters from the sixties' comic book come to life, but terribly disappointing to see Green Lantern himself -- Hal Jordan -- as such a weakling, so fearful. This is NOT the GL I grew up with.

Thumb's down.


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