2011-06-17

Green Lantern – More Blackest Night Than Brightest Day

by Yo Snyder

One of the worst things you can say about any super hero movie is
Well, at least it sets up the potential for a great sequel. That was
my thought about Superman Returns, and we all remember how that turned out. Green Lantern
is another such film; it doesnt have much going for it beyond the fact
that the sequel could be really cool now that all this boring stuff is
out of the way. Thats not to say its all bad; in fact theres a really
good movie hiding in here. However, every time that spark of potential
shows up, for some reason the movie draws back to something far less
inspired. The summer isnt over yet, but so far, Green Lantern is the front-runner for this years biggest disappointment.

There are two main problems with the movie, and had they been fixed it could have turned out entirely different. The
first is that the movie often chooses to tell rather than show. For a
sci-fi, super-hero action/adventure, this is a cardinal sin. Dont tell
me that a squadron of the Green Lantern Corps finest warriors were
defeated in battle, show me their heroic struggle and tragic defeat in
all its geeky, comic book, sci-fi glory. Dont tell how powerful a
threatening foe is, show me. Yet time and again this movie chooses to
pontificate about things rather than just show me the goods. If theres
one thing we learned from the Star Wars prequels, its that too much talk can suck the life and awe out of any sci-fi spectacle.

The second problem is theres too much going on in this movie for its
own good. Its rare that a first movie in a franchise suffers from the
cram in way too much syndrome, but somehow Green Lantern falls prey to some of the same issues as Spider-Man 3.
In truth, if one character had been removed and other sections of the
film expanded, this could have been a far better movie. If we had more
development of the relationship between Hal and some of the other key
Lanterns, especially Sinestro, you have a better movie. If we had more
of Hals development and struggle as a Lantern and less time spent on a
pointless villain who really wasnt all that villainous, you have a
better movie. If a little more time and effort was spent on the
climactic battle to truly make it epic and climactic, you have a better
movie. Unfortunately Green Lantern wastes time where time need
not be wasted, develops characters that need no development (and
shouldnt even be here) while neglecting the development of other more
key characters. Get rid of the completely unnecessary Hector Hammond and
spend some time on these other areas, and suddenly youd have a Green
Lantern film worthy of starting a franchise.

One of the main saving graces of the movie is Ryan Reynolds. His
innate charm and likeability do a lot in keeping this movie from being a
complete disaster. There are moments where he perfectly encapsulates
the character of Hal Jordan, and other moments where he captures exactly
what it would feel like to suddenly be selected to have amazing super
powers as a part of a intergalactic police force. Mark Strong also does a
fine job as Sinestro, and had this movie allowed more time for Hal and
Sinestro to develop their rivalry into begrudging respect and uneasy
friendship, much like Xavier and Magneto in X-Men: First Class,
this could have been a much better movie. Unfortunately, Strong is
given very little to do other than tell us whats happening, and even
one of his key moments feels rather arbitrary and tacked-on.

Interestingly
enough, one of the other strong elements of the movie is its use of 3D.
This is one of the best-looking 3D movies since Avatar, and I
dont say that lightly. Im not a huge fan of the 3D craze going on
right now as most times its pointless and makes the movie less
enjoyable than it might otherwise be. However, like in Avatar, Green Lantern
uses 3D to give a depth and richness to the world this story takes
place in. It doesnt bother with gimmicky tricks of stuff flying at you,
although that does happen, but rather gives dimension to a story that,
ironically, is lacking it in so many other areas. The frustrating part
is had the story been better, I could have said this is one movie worth
seeing in 3D. If youre all about spectacle, then perhaps thats still
true. If you like a little substance with your spectacle, then despite a
great use of 3D, this movie falls flat.

Now one of the key qualifications of a Green Lantern is fearlessness.
Its this characteristic that Hal Jordan struggles with most. However,
any fan of the comic knows that Hals greatest strength is his ability
to overcome fear. Again, its an idea thats presented in the movie but
glossed over entirely too quickly. Still, the movie does do a good job
of explaining that being fearless doesnt mean pretending to be without
fear, but rather admitting were afraid and then facing that fear which
is also known as courage.

The fact is, we live in a scary world. From crazy natural disasters
to a scary economy to horrors perpetuated by people, theres a lot to be
afraid of in this world. However, one of the key themes of the Bible
from beginning to end is do not be afraid. We can be fearless in the
face of all thats around us not because of our own ability or our own
powers, but because as Jesus said, In world you will have tribulation,
but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NASB)
Everything thats scary about this world, Jesus Christ overcame at the
cross and when he rose from the grave. Everything we need to overcome
fear, Jesus will provide through his power and grace. We too can be
fearless, not because of a super-powered piece of jewelry, but because
of the power of a loving, personal God. The scary stuff isnt going to
go away, but in Christ, we will find the strength and courage to face it
and go through it.

Despite a few misses here and there, Marvel has done a good job
bringing their superheroes to the big screen. For some reason, DC
continues to struggle with that when it comes to any hero not named
Batman. Its far more perplexing when you consider the fact that DC does
such a great and consistent job with their animated DTV movies (which,
interestingly enough, is an area where Marvel struggles with
consistency).  If DC and Warner Bros. were hoping to establish a larger
universe of heroes beyond just Batman with Green Lantern, they badly miscalculated how to do that. Hal Jordan may have the ability to overcome great fear, but Green Lantern did nothing but leave me afraid for any further efforts when it comes to other DC Comic greats coming to the big screen.

Guide Rating: 4/7