Green Lantern (PG-13)
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I actually got to see this in a theater with some friends when it came out in 2011. But I should say I think I missed a little bit at the beginning. When I got into the theater, the title was on the screen, but I felt like there must have been exposition before that. Probably not important, or rather, probably nothing I didn't already know, since I am somewhat familiar with the Green Lantern Corps and the Guardians of the Universe. Next I should say this is the first time I've had a chance to see a 3-D movie, since the format was popularized by Avatar a couple years ago (I got to see that in 2-D, and thought the visuals were dazzling enough, though I still wish I could have seen it in 3-D). Anyway, I've heard people complain about getting headaches from 3-D movies, but that didn't happen to me (my eyes felt a bit strained, but they feel that way a great deal of the time anyway, and it's possible the movie had nothing to do with that). People also say the picture is fuzzy if you don't use 3-D glasses, but the few times I looked at the screen without my 3-D glasses, it looked fine; in fact, it almost looked like 3-D even without them. The biggest problem I had was that it felt a bit awkward wearing 3-D glasses over my regular eyeglasses. Still, the visuals were pretty decent. Not exactly worth paying extra for, so I don't know if I'll bother with many 3-D movies in the future, but it was cool as a novelty. (Gosh, if I ever do see some more 3-D movies, I'll probably have to link back to this review in any review I write of those movies, just for the sake of this opening paragraph.)
Now, as to the movie itself. A lot of people who aren't majorly into comic books aren't familiar with Green Lantern, and may easily confuse the character with any other character with "green" in the name, like Green Hornet or Green Arrow (even though I feel like those characters are even less well known than Green Lantern). Actually, it's really hard for me to grasp the concept of not knowing who Green Lantern is; to me he's always been, if not a first tier comic book character, at least tier 1.5 (surely not all the way down in the second tier, though there have been superhero movies made about characters who are in the third tier or lower). While I'm at it, I should mention that some years ago there was talk of making a Justice League movie, which I think would be awesome. But it hasn't happened and I don't know if it will. I'm hoping that if the "Avengers" movie does well for Marvel next year, DC will renew efforts to make its own superhero team movie. And Green Lantern could certainly be a part of that team (even if not as important to the average moviegoer as characters like Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman).
Again, I digress. Because I'm a geek, and as such, this is something I care about. Ahem. Um... but as I said, there's a lot of moviegoers for whom the Green Lantern mythos is unknown, so I should explain. There are these aliens called the Guardians of the Universe, who forged rings that are powered by green energy, which represents the force of will, and these rings choose people to wear them, who become heroes called Green Lanterns. There's a whole corps of Green Lanterns, each of whom patrols a specific sector of space, and each sector includes many planets and many alien races. Though normally each Lantern works alone in his/her/its own sector, there are sometimes threats that can require team-ups, perhaps even of the entire Corps. There was a terrible threat a long time ago called Parallax, though I don't know much about that. (The first I ever heard of it was in the Zero Hour comics from 1994, which I don't remember well; and anyway, I suppose the origins of Parallax were explained in greater detail sometime later, in comics I never read. Hopefully the movie's depiction of the character is more in keeping with that than it is with the earlier comics I read, because... I don't think it's really in keeping with those comics at all.) Ahem. But whatever, movies don't have to be exact replications of stories that have been told already in comics. So I should just say what the movie has to say about Parallax. Which already I don't remember very well, but it has to do with yellow energy (which represents fear). Anyway, Parallax was defeated by a Lantern named Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison). I don't recall how long ago they said this happened, but I feel like it would make Abin Sur a lot older than I ever thought he was. Whatever; in the present, Parallax (voiced by Clancy Brown) escapes from confinement, and kills four Lanterns (I don't think we actually saw them, this is just mentioned later) as well as destroying a couple of inhabited planets. And he grows more powerful by consuming people's fear. Apparently he's heading to the planet Oa, the headquarters of the Green Lantern Corps, to seek revenge.
Meanwhile, on Earth, we meet a totally irresponsible, yet incredibly talented test pilot named Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), who works for Ferris Aircraft, along with another test pilot and former lover, Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), the daughter of the company's president, who soon takes over the business side of the company from him. The movie spends a bit of time letting us get to know Hal, before Abin Sur, who had been attacked by Parallax, crash lands on Earth, and his ring chooses Hal as his successor as protector of sector 2814 (which includes Earth). Once Hal eventually begins to figure out how to use the ring, it takes him to Oa, where he meets a (CGI) Lantern named Tomar-Re (voiced by Geoffrey Rush). They join the countless other Lanterns in listening to an address by Sinestro, who is apparently the highest ranking Green Lantern (at least now that Abin Sur is dead). Sinestro talks about the threat Parallax now poses to the Universe. After his speech, Hal receives just a bit of training from another Lantern named Kilowog (voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan), and then from Sinestro himself. Of course, this being his first day, Hal doesn't do great, but personally I thought he did a hell of a lot better than anyone could have had any right to expect of a rookie. Still, Hal is discouraged, and decides to give up, and head back to Earth.
However, the government had by this time recovered Abin Sur's spacecraft, as well as his corpse. There are, I should say, a lot of different people whose roles are not clearly defined, but who are involved in... all sorts of secret stuff. Honestly, I don't care about most of them. Though there is a woman named Dr. Amanda Waller (Angela Bassett), who I've never thought of in connection with Green Lantern; she's more of a Superman character, but of course it's all the DC universe, so whatever. She says this alien corpse is the first contact humanity has ever had with an alien, which leads me to believe the movie may not be in a continuity which includes Superman at all. Anyway, there's also a xenobiologist named Hector Hammond, who is called in to perform an autopsy on the body. In the process, he is unknowingly infected by a trace of yellow energy which had been left behind by Parallax's attack on Abin Sur. After that, we slowly see him gaining powers such as telepathy and telekinesis, and the troubles he has with his father (Tim Robbins), as well as unrequited love for Carol Ferris, play into his descent into madness (though this was probably inevitable in any event, due to the influence of Parallax). Anyway, he eventually tries to kill his father, at a big party where Hal is also in attendance. And of course, Hal realizes he has to use his ring to save everyone (as the whole crowd was potentially endangered by Hector's actions). After that, everyone was interested in learning who this mysterious superhero was.
I should say Hal had another friend who worked for Ferris Aircraft, apparently, named Thomas Kalmaku (Taika Waititi). I don't think I ever heard his name mentioned in the movie, and I don't know him from the comics, but he was probably my favorite character in the movie. Anyway, Thomas immediately realized Hal was this hero. And he and later Carol would both play a part in getting Hal to rethink his decision to quit the Corps. Of course, there's other issues involved, like Hal having to learn to overcome his fear, which was largely ingrained in him by the death of his father when he was a child. And he had to come to realize that courage isn't the lack of fear. Which should be totally obvious, but whatever. (It's also kinda weird that the movie first makes us see Hal as pretty fearless when flying jet fighters, before switching gears to deal with his being afraid of... other stuff. Then again, with flying he was always trying to live up to the reputation of his late father, who was also a fighter pilot. I suppose we're expected to believe Hal was pretending not to be afraid, while thinking his father had been genuinely fearless, which seems dubious to me.)
Meanwhile, on Oa, Sinestro convinced the Guardians they must forge a yellow ring, to fight fear with fear. Hal showed up and asked the Guardians for their help in fighting Parallax before he could destroy Earth, but they felt their own plan had a better chance of success. So Hal went back and fought Parallax alone. Spoiler alert: Earth wasn't destroyed. So the yellow ring was unnecessary, after all. However, there's a scene a ways into the end credits that you should check out. I totally predicted it because... I know a bit about Green Lantern comics. But if you don't, then maybe you wouldn't see it coming. I dunno. But it potentially sets up a new villain for a sequel, if they make one.
So anyway. My impressions of all this... I liked the movie better than most critics did. The visuals were probably the most interesting thing about the movie (whether you see it in 3-D or not). The story could've been better, but it wasn't really bad. Too mired in the whole "origin story" thing, but it could have been worse. And in any event, it was necessary. I mean, this is not a character that's simple to introduce, because it's not just about him. It's about his place in a much larger, much older organization (one which considers humanity a very young species). In fact, Hal was the first human to ever become a Green Lantern... (And don't talk to me about Alan Scott, any of you people who know more about comics history than I do. Alan Scott doesn't matter... in this venue.) Um... well, I do wish we could see more of the Corps working together. What else to say? The fight scenes weren't bad, though they perhaps could have been better. And Parallax was not nearly as threatening as he should have been. Too easily defeated. But that's rather the thing about Green Lantern rings... for a weapon that's powered by the user's will, creating energy constructs out of their imagination, any single Lantern should really be able to defeat any enemy in like one second. It's kind of necessary to make characters somewhat unimaginative. If you gave me a Green Lantern ring... ah, but never mind that. That would make for a dreadfully dull story. Anyway, that's pretty much all I can think to say. Not a great movie, but definitely entertaining, and I wouldn't mind seeing some sequels.