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Green Lantern (2011)

i didn't go in with high expectations, but i was pleasantly surprised that i actually properly liked it even though in retrospect it was only an okay film. I attribute my forgiveness of the movie's flaws to a few different factors. one, green lantern has always been my favorite superhero ever since i was a little kid, so that gives me an immediate bias. two, the development of the hal jordan story was pretty slow and therefore paced in a way that felt natural and unrushed. three, it was deliberately a very different origin story from Green Lantern: First Flight and Justice League: The New Frontier. four, Sinestro wasn't the main antagonist.

Going into the film, i was expecting there to be a lot of parallels between it and GL:FF, and it was a relief that the only real parallel was the one that shouldn't be touched, being that Hal was chosen to be the ring-bearer by a dying Abin Sur and that Abin Sur was one of the greatest Green Lanterns and thus Hal has a lot to live up to.

The character development in this film versus First Flight is vastly different; in the animated film, the development of Hal's character and will happens *while* he's wielding the ring during off-world missions with Sinestro. His actual decision to wield the ring happens in the first 20 or so minutes of the movie. I think i read in an interview with Timm that he wanted to get the boring part out of the way and immediately send Hal off to space and have a big off-world setting. Green Lantern, by contrast, uses a majority of the film to develop Hal's character and decision to wield the ring at all. Therefore it feels much more like an actual Hal Jordon origin story than First Flight which honestly was much more of a Sinestro origin story in disguise, and i liked it.

Having Parallax as a main antagonist with Hector as essentially a sidekick was pretty great, mainly because i was expecting it to be a Sinestro story which i already know a lot about, whereas Parallax is something i don't other than the fact that Parallax eventually takes over Hal and goes on some big rampage much later in GL history. I liked how well the pacing of Hal's use of the ring eventually led to battling an enemy that was essentially a dark evil amorphous cloud of fear, and the solution to that conflict was him figuring out something, solving the problem using knowledge and deduction rather than just throwing a lot of firepower into it or even That Perfect Ring Construct. In this, Green Lantern had something over First Flight even though the latter is a better film.

The action scenes were wonderful. One of the things that appeals to me the most about any action scene involving the power rings is how there's no limits. With almost every other superhero mythos, no matter how cool that superhero is, there's rarely anything that comes out of left field. You know all of Superman's powers. You know most of Batman's tricks. &c. But with Green Lantern, there are an infinite number of tricks out there that has free interpretation by the person that pens the action. This movie delivered on that in a nice way. it was pretty thrilling for me and reinforces my love of GL and its imagination.

--

as for what sucked about the movie?

On the surface, probably the most annoying thing about the film was when it tried to be funny because most of those attempts failed. There were four times in particular when the movie did stupid predictable bluffs for comic relief: 1) when Hal first tries to activate the ring using any random sort of oath rather than the Lantern oath. 2) when he tries to show off the ring's power to his friend Thomas. 3) When he takes the step off of the platform in Oa to attempt to fly. 4) When he tries to make it with Carol as an anonymous superhero. All of those set ups and payoffs were poorly written predictable cliché moments, particularly the Carol encounter, that i think the film should have done without. Not to say that the film shouldn't have been without humor, but it could have had humor moments that were more effective than the humor it tried to do.

But the film's fundamental flaw, like most sub-par to only-okay films, was transitions and sensibility from one scene to the next, mainly with fight scene resolutions. As in, after most of the conflict scenes ended, it seemed like there was some overseeing presence ringing the "end of round" bell and both sides took a break before getting back into the fray. The aftereffect of the Parallax/Hal/Carol fight was annoying in particular because it was otherwise an awesome conflict resolution because Carol had a role to play as opposed to being just a useless damsel in distress. But then after that and they escape from Parallax's clutches, he has the time to have a heart-to-heart with Carol while Parallax generally looms menacingly over the city without actually doing anything? there were a lot of examples of that, where the end of the immediate crisis would trigger a lull in the movie at a time when it didn't seem logical to me that there should have been a lull and made the overall narrative thread pretty weak despite the strength of pacing of character development of Hal and Hector.

Finally, the Sinestro origin story was hugely mishandled here, mainly because of the post-credits teaser of Sinestro putting on the yellow ring. Without that scene, you can see glimpses of what Sinestro is to become, but the movie only vaguely hinted at the Sinestro origin story; for that post-credits scene to ring true, it needed more backstory and development because to the casual audience goer, after Parallax gets hurled into the sun and that conflict is over, after Sinestro saves Hal and speaks praises to him in front of all of the Lanterns, why does he then still opt to wield the yellow ring?

Of course, it could be that Sinestro's fundamental hatred of the Guardians and the planting of seeds of rebellion are hidden "behind the scenes" in this film even though it only vaguely gets hinted at, but for a film that's trying to appeal to an audience that doesn't know anything about GL, that fundamental of his character was way too subtle. In First Flight there's a huge monologue from Sinestro that sets up his turn to yellow. As an introduction to the characters, you can see what he's all about and Hal's negative reaction towards it. Here that's completely absent.

that was a bit more rambly/unstructured than i wanted it to be. oh well. in any case, i think i would go see it in the theater again to get a second read and see if after the initial "OMG GL ORGASM" i still liked it or if the flaws got in the way. But movies don't take that long to hit DVD these days so i suppose i can wait. I doubt that i'll ever actually dislike the film because it's just damned difficult for me to dislike anything about the green lantern mythos.

It will be interesting to see what the animated series will be like. I'm very much looking forward to that if that's still greenlit for this upcoming fall.

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