Have you ever wondered why there’s such a floundering amount of DC Comics film adaptations floating around? No? Well it’s not too surprising anymore. With only two huge successes in the past six years (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight), you can’t help but wonder why they have more hits than misses. If ever there was a case study as to why Marvel Comics film adaptations generally beat the pants off DC-issued films it would have to be Green Lantern.
I love the superhero genre as I love action movies. While Marvel may be busy making sure their current crop are all tied together in a nice little package, leading up to next year’s The Avengers, DC can barely squeeze out a standalone feature. Let alone the fact that there’s a payoff scene I didn’t bother sticking around for as the quality level of the rest of the film singlehandedly makes moot of it. Let’s just say that DC is hoping for another Batman-sized franchise but I honestly don’t see that happening.
Maybe when DC returns to their Superman franchise with Man of Steel; at least that one still has producers Christopher Nolan along with wife Emma Thomas keeping a keen on things. Not to mention a proven director in Zack Snyder and writer David S. Goyer too. Can the teams behind Batman, Watchmen and the Blade series bring a fresh take to the Superman series? If I were a betting man, I would definitely be putting my money on black with this powerhouse team behind the production.
What we’re left with in Green Lantern is the story of hotshot maverick (Top Gun, check) Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), given a green ring of great power (Lord of the Rings, check), consisting of will, the strongest known power in the universe, by the dying alien named Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) (who happens to a lot like Freddy Krueger, another New Line/WB property coincidentally). Meanwhile, Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard, who at first looks like he could exclaim “bazinga!” any minute then later looks like the love child of John Malkovich and Eric Stoltz in Mask) has been recruited by his father, Senator Hammond (Tim Robbins, bet you can guess why he’s never given a first name in the film) to study the body of Abin Sur.
And just wouldn’t you know it, Hector has been infected with the “blood” of another alien strain which belongs to Parallax (our first glimpse of what Smokey from Lost might have looked like had they done any kind of film version). So now Hal Jordan has the ring of power and is whisked away to Oa, one of the 3,600 sectors, to train amongst walking bird-beaked fish-like Tomar-Re (voiced by Geoffrey Rush) and the burly oversized pug-faced Kilowog (voiced by Michael Clark Duncan). Meanwhile, Sinestro (Mark Strong) has little faith in the human Green Lantern nominee and forges a new yellow ring of power consisting of fear to possibly fend off the evil Parallax if Hal Jordan, aka Green Lantern, can’t stop it first.
What a hodgepodge of great ideas we’ve already seen a million times before, thrown into a blender and pureed. It’s not so surprising given the fact that there’s four credited screenwriters (Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim, and Michael Goldenberg); never a great sign. And if you ever happen to be wondering where the budget was spent, look no further than the Parallax CGI and the wasteful 3-D conversion. Maybe if Warner Bros. had spent the extra budget money on polishing up the planet Oa or hiring a different editor (Stuart Baird), things would gel a little better.
It’s sad that this is the best director Martin Campbell and Baird could cobble together. The whole film feels like you’re watching a TV pilot as every other scene feels so anti-climatic. You’re just waiting for the commercials to queue up. What’s sadder is that the pair worked wonders together on Casino Royale; I have no idea what happened here, let alone that Baird has brought his hand to some fantastic action films in the past (even if they were mostly from the ’80s). Although I will admit there is one stand fight out scene involving Jordan and some laid off co-workers brawling in a parking lot.
There’s bound to be a complete cut of this thing that’s far better than the 105 minutes we got here. While that runtime may seem mighty short, a fair warning: this film feels about twice as long as that. So far, this is the most boring summer tent pole film in at least two years. And that’s being said about a film that’s apparently all about false climaxing. No wonder there’s an obligatory scene chock full of unintentional laughs where Hal asks his engineer friend Thomas Kalmaku (Taika Waititi), “You wanna see it?” He’s supposed to be asking if he wants to see his new superpowers but you’d never know. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
In the end it’ll be interesting to see what happens to this at the box office as I forecast it’ll have a big opening weekend before word-of-mouth spreads and Cars 2 is unleashed by Pixar. While many amongst the critical crowd have been scared of the upcoming sequel, at least this one takes things in a new direction and just about everything else released already this summer (Fast Five, Thor, Bridesmaids, Kung Fu Panda 2 and the best of the lot, Super 8) have all been monumentally better. This belongs amongst of the ranks of Pirates Bore… err, 4 and The Hangover Part II). Alas, I may be too correct in this assertion as they’re all terrible movies making far too much money. Next please.
Photos courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures