As a longtime fan of the Green Lantern stories, I was hoping that the promise of the writers that “we won’t screw this up” would be a true statement and not just something said to placate the fans. I was very pleasantly surprised that it was a true statement. They didn’t screw it up. The movie is a retelling of the standard Hal Jordan origin story which has been told so many times in so many different ways. We establish Hal as a skilled pilot who is always in trouble for not following established procedures. He is summoned against his will to a crash site where he is given a technological (NOT “mystical“) power ring by a dying alien. Soon after that, he is summoned (against his will again) to planet Oa, where he meets fantastic aliens and is trained to be a Green Lantern. At first, the other Lanterns doubt his skill and commitment, but his tendency to “think outside the box” allows him to defeat a powerful enemy and win the admiration of the entire Corps. This same story has been told in slightly different ways in the comics, on TV, in animated films, and now in a live action movie. And the movie did not disappoint.
Ryan Reynolds was a good casting choice for the part of Hal Jordan. In interviews at science fiction conventions, he said that he understood the importance of respecting a character that has been loved for more than fifty years by millions of fans worldwide. That respect came through loud and clear in his portrayal of Hal. Mark Strong as Sinestro was a joy to behold. He did a masterful job of acting, making the character totally believable. Of course, we know just by the character’s name that he will turn out to be a bad guy in the future, but for now he is firmly established as the greatest Green Lantern of them all. Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond was wonderfully wacky, bone-chillingly evil when combined with Parallax, and I wish he could return somehow for another engagement. When a killer laughs while doing evil deeds, he takes the audience completely out of their comfort zone. Very nicely done, sir. Blake Lively was good as Carol Ferris, although she didn’t seem to have much to do. And that’s not a bad thing, since the movie was mostly about Hal and the Corps. I’m sure we will be seeing more of the lady code-named “Sapphire” in future movies. She was given a great line at a point where Hal expressed doubts about his ability to be a Lantern due to his fear. She said that it’s not about being without fear, it’s about overcoming fear, and Hal was good at that. It’s what a power ring always says to a Green Lantern candidate, “Hal Jordan of Earth, you have the ability to overcome great fear. Welcome to the Green Lantern Corps.”
Speaking of the ring, that is one of the few minor criticisms of the movie. The power ring, although not alive, can speak to the ringbearer. It can report the percent of its power remaining, warn the ringbearer of approaching danger, or provide the results of a scan. Maybe Hal didn’t have enough training to bond with his ring telepathically, because all it seemed to do was produce a vibration sound like a pager. The ring has a voice. We want to hear it speak. Another quibble about the portrayal of the ring is that normally a ringbearer in space will be surrounded by a force field. In the comics and cartoons this is usually shown as being right next to the ringbearer’s skin. In the movie it was shown as a dispersed electrical field around the ringbearer, but in the final scene in space, four Lanterns are shown hovering with no shield at all. Maybe this was just a continuity error, but they would not have been able to breathe without the ring’s help. The final small nit-pick is about the theme song. There wasn’t one. I wanted to hear a stirring and heroic Green Lantern Theme that would stick in my mind enough that I would be humming it on the way out of the theater. But instead of that, there was generic orchestra music. Think Superman and Superman Returns, or Star Wars, or even Ghostbusters. The Green Lantern Corps needs a theme song.
Now for the kudos. There were early complaints that the fans wanted to see the trademark Green Lantern uniform, with black sleeves and pants legs, green boots and body suit, and white gloves, and that an all green uniform didn’t look right. But since the uniform is created by the power ring, it makes sense that it would not be static like a uniform made of dead cloth, but instead would be pulsating with power. The chest symbol was lighted (and Abin Sur’s light went out when he died), and when Hal used his ring, the power was shown to be flowing from the chest symbol down his arm to the ring. The uniform works. The special effects and CGI were excellent. Some of the flight scenes reminded me of flying around Second Life as a Lantern. This could have been a great disappointment, but instead it was a joy to behold. And by all means, watch the movie in 3D. Unlike Avatar, where only a few of the scenes were in 3D, every scene in this movie has a 3D aspect to it. The opening scene all by itself has a jaw-dropping effect, and is enough to rivet the audience’s attention. At times, there was almost too much action going on, like the scene at the party where people are running and screaming and Hal is using his power ring to protect everyone. It appeared to me that some partygoers were squashed, but they weren’t. That scene will need to be watched again when the DVD comes out.
I give this movie a 9.8 out of 10 score, with the few minor quibbles only slightly detracting from an excellent Hal Jordan origin story. I hope the Green Lantern franchise makes a billion dollars and a hundred sequels. What’s next? Sinestro forms the Yellow Lantern Corps. I can’t wait!