There’s no easy way into Green Lantern, literally or figuratively, outside of diving right in, fighting my way through the muck and myriad of stumble-steps and outright bad choices. As far as comic book adaptations, this might very well be a respectful interpretation of the original material, down to the hokey setup and ridiculous propaganda and universal truth-making, but none of which makes me like it any more. It’s almost irrelevant that so much attention was given minutiae, heavy-handed backstory and prop building for what ultimately feels like franchise building at the cost of prequel killing. Unlike Batman and Superman, Spiderman perhaps most of all, the world of the character is as flawed as the dynamics of his super powers second only to the ridiculousness of the anti-villains, the mighty-morphing gargantuan head – bad comes in all colors and today it’s green.
Green Lantern is an abysmal entry in the comic book adaptation movie realm. It’s difficult to say “miss it” given there are some, scant interesting things and moments scattered here and there, action sequences and CGI wizardry that would be great in any other film; but overall you could miss this movie and sleep just fine at night. Some comic books just aren’t cinematic, much less animatic; the fact that all this stuff was assembled far in advance of the final film product in the form of drawings and concepts, in storyboards and preliminary visualizations should have set off more than a few red light buzzers. Sadly the stumbles and blunders went to production and got to theaters – like this. If you were to sit down with a tally sheet at the beginning of this movie and start filling it with little green devils, about ya big, for every time you cringed, choked a little bit on your own tongue, dug your fingers into the arm chair or your legs or the popcorn bucket – I’d give you ten minutes before you’d need another page or better yet – just give up trying. There are so many better comic book movies you could turn to, even better you could go back to the source books and enjoy them for never having got this bad.
The film begins with the obligatory average Joe backstory preparations, showing us the misanthropic anti-hero to be making a mess of his life only to happen on a dying Green Lanterner, a space guy who bequeaths Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) with the gumball ring of rings that transports him through outer space in one really long rather stupefying linguine worm noodle thing like the proverbial rabbit hole to Wonderland. The next step is the testing grounds where all the little green folks live, commune and presumably plot to overthrow the evil in the universe. Hal confronts his teachers in order to learn how to handle the ring through a series of Olympian trial runs and tests, where he faces among other things a really angry dude named Thaal Sinestro (really?) who thinks the puny human as unworthy of membership in their rings club for the best and brightest from all quadrants of the galaxy, universe or whatever. Everything in Green Lantern lasts too long and goes boldly where just about every other comic book movie have gone before, done and covered in excruciating detail. It’s like reintroducing a new Spiderman and showing us the spider bite and the moments of discovery, flying for the first time and kissing beautiful girls upside in the rain for the first time – again. So much of what’s wrong with Green Lantern is what it “is” and “isn’t”, what is stuffed in a soggy plot that if removed, if excised by an articulate director like Christopher Nolan or Aronofsky would have amounted to anything else – instead of a franchise killer.
Review aggregators have the Lantern dimly lit and well below mediocre ratings. Rottentomatoes has a generous rating of 27%, an average 4.6/10 of 224 reviews, 60 fresh and 164 rotten. Metacritic is at a gentler 39 out of 100, generally unfavorable with a 5.9 out of 10 based on 396 ratings. The general consensus is the film tries too hard to be faithful to the source material while disappointing the comic gods, failing to connect with the average moviegoers and otherwise mucking up all hopes for something remotely enjoyable, memorable or lasting.
To Blu-ray or not to Blu-ray:
Green Lantern is that rare bad film that nevertheless should only be viewed in Blu-ray. Aside from the atrocities in script and vision, the muddy story and poor choice decisions, a CGI spectacle like this deserves no less than the very best possible visual and audio possible and Blu-ray is going to take you the closest you’re ever going to get to the big screen theater experience. In addition Warner Bros. has generously packed the Combo-pack release with a wealth of bonus materials including the extended cut of the film that was not seen in theaters (also includes the theatrical cut), the incredible Maximum Movie Mode that brings you literally into the movie like never before with picture-in-picture commentary, interactivity using 8 Featurettes and much more. There’s also a couple more cool behind the scenes/making of bonuses, deleted scenes and the Ultraviolet Digital Download offer, the WB Insider Rewards benefits membership and my copy came with a PS3 game add-on download. With all that extra cool stuff it’s hard to imagine bringing this movie into your home any other way. It’s just the whole bringing it into you home thing that’s up to you.
Warner Home Video, a division of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Inc., invited me to join their exclusive Blu-ray Elite Movie Review Program and they sent me a complimentary copy of this movie for the purpose of review with special attention on the “Blu-ray Experience”. I received this video for free, but that does not sway this review or the reviews of other films that will follow.