Green Lantern (2011) Movie Review

So far this summer movie season has been a pretty good time for comic book adaptations. “Thor” was far better than I expected, and, though I haven’t managed to drag my sorry ass to the theater yet, “X-Men: First Class” is getting thumbs-up reviews from all over the place. With “Captain America” still to come, it seemed that the summer was destined to be dominated by Marvel, but not entirely. DC gets into the act this weekend with their big-budget big-screen version of “Green Lantern”. With it, we have another worthy, entertaining superhero flick with which to while away our precious summer hours. Just a heads up, I’m not particularly familiar with the source material, so I can’t comment on how closely the story sticks to comics, or how many little in jokes there are, but even from my removed perspective it is a damn blast.

Apparently 3600 fearless warriors in sweet green bodysuits are tasked with the protection of the universe. These fierce soldiers are called the Green Lantern Corps, and they’re pretty damn tough. The toughest force they’ve ever faced was a creature of pure fear called Parallax (voiced by none other than Clancy “The Kurgan” Brown), but he was imprisoned by the most badass of these emerald clad badasses, Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison, AKA Jango Fett). Unfortunately for the universe and all of its inhabitants, Parallax managed to escape, and is stirring up all sorts of drama, destroying worlds and what not. When an encounter between Abin Sur and Parallax leaves the corps member mortally wounded, he heads to Earth, where his fancy green ring will find a replacement.

Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is a hotshot test pilot who claims to live life with no fear. He certainly lives with a reckless abandon, leaving a trail of one-night stands, broken hearts, and high-flying acrobatics in his wake. His one regret is that he let his childhood sweetheart Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) get away. They work together, but have a constant, contentious relationship that basically boils down to Hal’s childish refusal to grow up versus Carol’s acceptance of a more adult way of life.

When Abin Sur crash lands, his ring kidnaps Hal and brings him in, and the rest of the film is a pretty standard superhero story. Hal, the first human ever chosen to serve, gets powers, doesn’t understand his power, tries to figure out how to use his power, comes to terms with his power, and uses his power for something greater than himself. While that is a pretty typical origin story and emotional arc for a comic book superhero, that isn’t meant to be disparaging, because “Green Lantern” is a damn good time, mostly because of Reynolds. He plays Hal with a cocky charm and a bravado that you would expect out of a fighter pilot who is used to handling intense pressure and action, and living life on the edge. An engaging protagonist, he’s fun to watch and root for. What he also brings to the table is a vulnerability that is necessary to make the character work as more than just a type.

Lively serves as a great foil for Reynolds’ immature charm. Her character has put aside childish endeavors and has taken a large role in her father’s company that makes fancy pants military hardware, like flying robotic drones. She is the one that got away, and though there are important subplots—like Hal’s clash with Sinestro (Mark Strong), a senior member of the Green Lantern Corp, who doesn’t approve of the new recruit’s ability, temperament, or methods; and Dr. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard), another childhood acquaintance who becomes a fear mongering tool of Parallax—the bulk of the plot is taken up by their relationship, and Hal’s attempts to cope with his newly acquired powers and the responsibility they bring.

“Green Lantern” doesn’t waste a lot of time getting down to business, and when you’re fully caught up in the action web, they deliver these characters who just so happen to be believable as actual people; they have hopes and dreams and flaws, just like the best comic book figures. That’s what sets it apart, the action is solid and keeps things moving, but the heart of “Green Lantern” is the people, you care about them and what happens to them beyond whether they live or die, you want things to work out for Hal and Carol, and you even feel for Hector and what drives him towards his end.

There are certainly some cheesy moments, at times the story can be too stereotypically comic bookish, and while the scenes in space look cool—especially those on Oa, the Green Lantern’s home base—the 3D is mostly pointless, adding little to nothing to the film. If “Green Lantern” was in 2D with the same special effects, it would be just as good, only with none of the annoyances of cumbersome glasses (especially for those of us who already wear glasses, seriously, the 3D craze is the worst thing that ever happened to me in that regard).

Like “Thor”, I thoroughly enjoyed “Green Lantern” despite some of the obvious shortcomings. It’s better than a lot of superhero movies, and it is one of those summertime popcorn movies that, even though it is what it is, doesn’t talk down to you and assume that you’re an idiot like so many big-time blockbusters. COUGH, “Transformers”, COUGH. I’m sure the more hardcore fanboys among you will have things to say about the accuracy of the story and characters and all of that, and I’m curious to see how well the film handled that side of things (Dedpool, Juggernaut, I’m looking directly at you) but as someone who only has “Super Friends” as a reference, I think “Green Lantern” is a movie that is totally worth your summer movie dollars.

Martin Campbell (director)/Greg Berlanti (writer)/Michael Green (writer)/Marc Guggenheim (writer)/Michel Goldberg (writer)
CAST: Ryan Reynolds…Hal Jordan/Green Lantern
Blake Lively…Carol Ferris
Mark Strong…Sinestro
Peter Sarsgaard…Hector Hammond
Geoffrey Rush…Tomar-Re
Michael Clarke Duncan…Kilowog


Buy Green Lantern on DVD



About Brent McKnight

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Brent McKnight lives in Seattle with his dogs. He likes beards, movies where things explode, and overcast skies. His three favorite movies are "Rubin and Ed", "A Bittersweet Life", and "Out for Justice". He wishes his knees didn't hurt. On Twitter @BrentMMcKnight

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  • Doohsun

    here’s my 2 cents I thought the movie was pretty good my only beef and complain about the movie was the fact that it was a bit too short. The the thing I didn’t like about it was that the focus was too much on Hal like the last fighting seen they could’ve and should’ve made the other lanterns help Hal and have Hal in the end Defeat the bad guy like he did on the last seen. The Cgi was great can’t expect much since the Character is based in Space most of the time. Overall I thought it was much better the Xmen first class to be honest I mean Xmen was good but wasn’t to pleased with some of the acting from feel of the characters.

  • Juggernaut

    @ Dedpool- I’m sure the shield thing was intentional. Lol. It was an awesome F**K YOU to “The House Of Ideas”!!! Did you catch any other easter eggs or nod’s to the comics? I saw on IMDB that someone was cast as John Stewart. I also heard rumors of there being a cameo of Clark Kent being almost chosen by the ring. I believe that last part was dropped by the writers in final re-writes though.

    • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

      There was the mention of the other lights and the end credits had the different colors of the spectrum in those “cosmic clouds.” The rogue Gaurdian was probably Krona, Ryut is the homeworld of the Red Lanterns, and definitely saw Bzzd. Hard to miss him when they put him right in the camera. Can’t think of anything else.

      Sent on the go.

    • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

      There was the mention of the other lights and the end credits had the different colors of the spectrum in those “cosmic clouds.” The rogue Gaurdian was probably Krona, Ryut is the homeworld of the Red Lanterns, and definitely saw Bzzd. Hard to miss him when they put him right in the camera. Can’t think of anything else.

      Sent on the go.

    • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

      There was the mention of the other lights and the end credits had the different colors of the spectrum in those “cosmic clouds.” The rogue Gaurdian was probably Krona, Ryut is the homeworld of the Red Lanterns, and definitely saw Bzzd. Hard to miss him when they put him right in the camera. Can’t think of anything else.

      Sent on the go.

      • Juggernaut

        I caught al of that stuff. Hmmm… I suppose there was no John Stewart after all. Too bad. I was really hoping for a set up for him. I heard that he was showing up in a bar fight scene. A cameo of Guy Gardner and/or Clark would’ve been cool!
        I didn’t expect Clark since they very rarely cross pollenate characters like that. Ha!
        Oh well there’s always room for them in the next one. If there is a next one that is.

        • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

          Sequel was already greenlit so we should get one. It did decently at the box office. And I don’t remember a black guy in the barfight. Personally I think bringing him or Guy or Kyle in with just a cameo would be bad, as they deserve more. I’ve got some ideas on doing it but will wait til tomorrow.

          Sent on the go.

          • Lexavi80

            A sequel is not a fact yet. Remember Superman Returns?. After the first weekend everybody talked about sequel but no such of thing. Because of the failure of the movie the studio is rebooting the character YEARS after.

            Green Lantern made less than projected. Couldn’t defeat Thor nor X-Men: First Class on the first weekend, and given that Transformers comes in a few days, if it turns out to be as good as it looks, Green Lantern is doomed.

            I guess eventually will get a sequel (or reboot), but if all goes the same, maybe it’ll take longer than expected.

            On my part they can take as long as they want as long as they DO IT RIGHT this time!.

          • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

            No they actually already GREENLIT the sequel, not just talked about it.

            Sent on the go.

          • Juggernaut

            I think that a second film could be done better than this one. We are already familiar with the characters and story. We can just dive right in! Hopefully @Dedpool is correct and a sequel is on!

        • Juggernaut

          One other thing that was great about the movie that I forgot to mention. Their take on the infamous Domino mask! That was classic. It said everything that evertone was ever thinking about that subject. Brilliant!

          • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

            Yes that was very clever and well done.

            Sent on the go.

  • Juggernaut

    @ Dedpool- I’m sure the shield thing was intentional. Lol. It was an awesome F**K YOU to “The House Of Ideas”!!! Did you catch any other easter eggs or nod’s to the comics? I saw on IMDB that someone was cast as John Stewart. I also heard rumors of there being a cameo of Clark Kent being almost chosen by the ring. I believe that last part was dropped by the writers in final re-writes though.

  • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

    SO this is my call for GL2: Emerald Night. Yes I gave it a subtitle. LOL. Real quick, I think Sinestro begins to ecretly recruit outside the GL corps for memembers to join what will be the Sinestro corps. Meanwhile when he decides to try and recruit within the corps it doesn’t go so well and he’s rejected which leads him to kill the lantern because he can’t be found out. He eventually IS found out and booted from the Corps, only to have him start the Sinesstro Corps ahead of schedule. Thus the second half of the film is the War. OR it could have him starting to recruit only to have the Manhunter show up and try to destroy Oa powered by Yellow energy. Sinestro who orchestrated the whole thing uses the opportunity to ue the yellow ring and show it’s “Effectiveness.” The Guardians forbid the use of the yellow rings, and Sinestro revolts calling for his new Corps members. They and the Manhunters join him against Oa and the GL Corps.

    • Juggernaut

      Yeah. That was pretty much how I see it going down too. Maybe having Carol turning into Star Sapphire towards the end of the film. The Manhunters, Nekron and the Sinestro Corps. are the likeliest of choices for the next installment. I’d like to see Ion. I’m not sure how they’d bring in John Stewart or Guy Gardner since Hal would still be learning and getting aquatinted more with his new powers and responsibilities. Having Hal injured would be the only way to bring those guys in.

      • http://www.originalgeekspodcast.com/ Dedpool

        No Nekron til like 3rd film. And yeah Saphire should definitely be in it. I’ll have a synopsis for the next two by tomorrw ;-) Including how you’d do John and Guy.

        Sent on the go.

        • Juggernaut

          Sounds good my friend! I’ll try to think of a scenario as well. Until tomorrow…