Monday, June 20, 2011

FILM REVIEW: Ryan Reynolds's "Green Lantern"

Back in January, non-comic-book fans were confusing and, as a result, comparing the Green Hornet and the Green Lantern, trying to determine which emerald hero would become flushed with green and which would end up green with envy. I was one of the critics who wasn't as floored by the Green Lantern trailer as I wanted to be, even though I believed Ryan Reynolds was a great choice for a lead. The costume just seemed disproportionate to me, and the leading lady, Blake Lively ("Gossip Girl"), was no Gwyneth Paltrow—or even Cameron Diaz. The only reason I decided to watch it is because Reynolds has always been a scene-stealing, movie-saving, charismatic actor. And doing as he does, he manages to bring this film from a C- to a B.

A friend of mine said the reason he didn't like the movie was because it was miscast. But I can't imagine anyone being able to make this storyline more believable or these lines more bearable. The funniest one-liner in the film was delivered by the "sidekick" Thomas (Taika Waititi). Hal showed him the ring and said, "He gave me this," and Thomas, without missing a beat, responds, "He proposed?" That's it. That's the best line. And it wasn't even delivered by Reynolds, who has his fans accustomed to always being fully entertained by him, both dramatically and comically. So in that respect, I agree with my friend. If Hal Jordan isn't a funny character, then Reynolds was miscast. But my question is: If they decided to cast Reynolds, why not use him at his full potential? It probably has something to do with the fact that the screenwriting credits are attributed to 7 people—it's Frankenstein's monster. Thankfully, Reynolds at half-speed is still quite enjoyable, because he's got the hero schtick down.
Playing the Lois to his Clark, was the freshly dyed Lively as Carol Ferris. She actually wasn't as horrible as I thought she was going to be. It turns out changing her hair to brown really did help her seem older and more mature. Of course, it didn't improve her acting. There were many times when I couldn't stomach her concern or sorrow. She was much better at the confrontational and flirtatious scenes. Her best was when he first introduces himself as the Lantern, Superman-style—above the city and hoping his "disguise" made him unrecognizable—while rocking the Batman voice-changer. She totally flips on him, saying exactly what we were all thinking: "Of course I know it's you!"
Unsurprisingly I'm sure to most, Peter Sarsgaard was a great surrogate villain, given that the true nefarious force of the film, Parallax, possessed him. Decked out in gruesome grotesque prosthetics and sporting glowing yellow eyes, he snickered, hunched over, and gloated in great villainous fashion. This isn't Sarsgaard's first turn as a villain though. We last saw him trying to outsmart Tom Cruise in Knight & Day (as if!). Who knew that adding a bulbous head, stringy hair, and sweaty skin was the key to unlocking his malevolent side? Of all the villains of the year, Hector Hammond is my favorite so far. He sincerely gave me the heebeegeebees with his creepy victory laps.
And Parallax, his puppet master, was effectively terrifying. By the look of him, there was no doubt that danger was imminent. I credit that to his ever-growing cloud design and the fact that he fed on Fear, which this world, in these times, isn't short on.
The designs of the other Green Lanterns and the Guardians were also sufficiently unique and intricate. There were times, however, when the disproportionate angles of Hal's suit were distracting, especially when he was flying. The action scenes were good, but I didn't like that the final ring trick and death blow was just a giant fist. Of all the creative things he could've conjured, that was pretty lame. But it could've just been another sign of his humanity.
As for Sinestro (Mark Strong from Sherlock Holmes), I thought he was wasted as the Green Lantern leader. But during the post-credits scene, he slides on the yellow Fear ring and a villain is born, promising more adventures ahead.

Ultimately, I thought the Green Lantern was more likable than the Green Hornet, the plot was more interesting than Thor, and the designs were the best of all the comic book films of the year—so far. But the dialogue, characters, and "whole package" honor still remains with X-Men: First Class. We'll see if it'll keep the title once Transformers 3 and Captain American hit theaters later this summer.

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