Green Lantern is one of my top five favorite super-heroes, so I have been somewhat dreading the new live action film. I’ll go ahead and set your fears to rest by saying that this is a really good film and a fun one, too. However, I’m not entirely sure it is a really good Green Lantern film. My uncertainly lies with Ryan Reynolds. Other than looking somewhat like the character as drawn by the great Joe Staton, Reynolds just doesn’t seem very much like the Hal Jordan I’ve read about all these years. Don’t get me wrong, I think Reynolds is a fine actor. I’ve liked him since the sitcom Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place and I thought he was the strongest of the cast, including later addition Nathan Fillion (no offense meant to Mr. Fillion as he has certainly proven it was lack of good material at the time that prevented him from shining). But Reynolds never seems to take anything seriously in this film, as he is usually wont to do, and I just think that is wrong for the way that Hal Jordan has been portrayed in the comics. Jordan always seemed to me to be very focused, incredibly determined and, yes, somewhat of a hotshot. I understand adding more humor to him in order to broaden the appeal of the story, however it doesn’t fit. While Reynolds comedic physicality and timing are scarily superb, I think those skills were sometimes overused and distracting in what could have been a really fantastic film.
The other issue I have with the film is the use of Hector Hammond. Ultimately, Hammond turns out to be a MacGuffin of sorts as the true threat of the film is Parallax. In fact, I never really believed Hammond to be much of a threat and he really only seemed to serve as a way for Parallax to notice Hal Jordan. He essentially spends the entire movie being resentful of those he feels superior to, which tends to be everybody, and then after being tricked by Jordan he gets unceremoniously consumed by the entity he was unknowingly serving. A pretty ignominiously short shelf life for a character that is much more menacing and far more creepier in the comics. He seemed to be heading towards…something, but then his story just fizzled out and went away. For having evolved to the point where he could read minds, Hammond was duped rather flimsily. It might have worked better if they lead up to Hammond being the big bad in the next installment, but it is not to be.
Besides those two issues I did really enjoy the movie. Parallax was particularly well done as he was suitably scary, which is befitting the avatar of fear. Parallax was actually made less convoluted than he is in the comics and they even managed to explain the origin of the Green Lantern Corps in a non-confusing opening narration. Of course, for long time fans, seeing many familiar ring-slingers in action was possibly the coolest parts of the film. Sinestro, Kilowog and Tomar-Re, a personal favorite, all got speaking roles. To say that Mark Strong nailed Sinestro’s arrogance and guile would be a gross understatement. If there is any justice the films will be heading towards depicting the “Sinestro Corps War” stroyline in the second or third movie. Hannu, Boodika, Stel, Salakk and Medphyll are noticeable and there are a few others I’m certain I’ve seen before as well. Blake Lively does a great job as Carol Ferris and I think she would be spectacular as Star Sapphire, should the film producers take that route in subsequent movies. Lively and Reynolds did have good chemistry and that should work well in the future. Taika Waititi as Tom Kalmaku is also highly underused, but hopefully he will get more screen time next go round.
All in all, I would recommend this film, especially as one the whole family can watch. As a film focused on Green Lantern, I would have liked to have seen a few things done differently and Hal Jordan portrayed more like the comics, but it is still acceptable and I think an audience unfamiliar with the comics will be suitably entertained and drawn to check out the comic books. Of course there is a great hook for a sequel that plays out part way through the credits so be sure to stay for that. It isn’t the best super-hero movie this year, but it is a rollicking good summer film.