2011’s “Green Lantern” garnered a lot of flak from critics and fans alike. Admittedly, we expected more and were very optimistic when we found out Geoff Johns, who engineered some of the best Green Lantern stories to date at DC Comics, was overseeing the likes of Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim on script. Director Martin Campbell also instilled confidence after his showing what he was capable of with “GoldenEye” and “Casino Royale.”
While the movie did have flaws, a lot of it was a bit harsh on its lead, Ryan Reynolds, who did a decent job of balancing Hal Jordan as a cocky daredevil and humorous hero. If anything, the plot needed work, but there were some pretty good performances, sticking to the overall essence of the Green Lantern mythos. That said, CBR decided to dissect 15 reasons why this film didn’t actually suck!
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for the “Green Lantern” movie!
15. PARALLAX WAS A TRUE CORRUPTING FORCE
This was something Johns played up a lot in his modern comic stories such as “Green Lantern: Rebirth” and “Green Lantern: Secret Origin.” He did a great job showing fear as a corrupting force that just wasn’t about making someone scared, but rather as a gateway to anger, and subsequently, evil. The movie touched on that when the Guardians admitted that they once had ties to Parallax, but realized he was a poison that needed to be imprisoned.
This corrupting force was further seen when the entity infected Hector Hammond and used him as an avatar before coming to Earth and wreak havoc itself. Compounding how infectious and evil it was, Sinestro also got a taste of its power and decided to use a yellow ring to harness the power that fear offered. The way that this movie depicted Parallax as something that would coarse through your veins and bring you to the dark side aligned with what DC Comics shaped in recent years.
14. AN ABIN SUR LOYAL TO THE COMICS
Temuera Morrison deserves more credit in the geek realm. He first played Jango Fett in “Star Wars: Attack of the Clones” and then gave a virtuous performance as Abin Sur, who fled to Earth after fighting Parallax, once free from its prison. Sur’s crash-landing on Earth, sending his ring to pick a successor, and the ensuing exchange with Hal, felt exactly like what we saw in comics. It was filled with heart and soul, reminding us how Abin was always centered around hope.
In this scene alone, we saw him open Hal’s eyes to a new universe and remind him that despite his arrogance, his destiny was meant for greatness. Johns rejigged Abin’s fleeing to Earth as having crossed paths with Atrocitus for the comics, but in this instance, it fit perfectly with the overall Parallax plot, because it also showed Abin was incorruptible from fear, and was more about compassion and belief. Crashing here also helped advance the plot for Amanda Waller and Hector Hammond.
13. HAL TRICKING HECTOR HAMMOND
Hector Hammond was always going to be a tricky villain to bring to screen. It was a pretty smart decision to tie him in as someone whose unrequited love for Carol Ferris, and a distinct jealousy for Hal, would fuel his ambitions as a Parallax lackey. Hector’s telepathic powers and his entitled disposition made it abundantly clear that he was not going to be an easy fight for our hero. He showed that he was as ruthless as could be, taking out his own father, and clearly ready to do the same to Carol.
When he made it obvious he desired Hal’s ring, the story took a smart move with Hal allowing this to happen. Hal saved Carol in the process, but more so, by using his will instead of his wit, he tricked Hector due to the simple fact that the ring chooses its bearer, not the other way around. It was a clever twist and gave him the upper hand over a villain that seemed to have Hal cornered because of his connection to the people he loved.
12. THE PRINCIPLE OF FEAR
When Hal fought Parallax at the end, it was clearly wrapping up his arc about overcoming fear for the entire film. He had fears he would become a failure, fears that he would not live up to his father’s legacy, fears that he was not good for Carol and fears that he would fail as a Green Lantern. The latter was one he made sure he would extinguish though, as it would mean Earth’s extinction. In the finale, Parallax taunted him and tried to play off this, but Hal proved resilient.
This resolve was something straight from the comics because Hal was unwavering in his stance, driven by his training on Oa, his love for Carol, and a desire to protect not just Earth, but the galaxy. Reynolds’ performance complemented this well and reiterated that the movie’s problem was in its plot, because as seen here, the character-driven segments stayed true to the essence of each, especially when weighed against modern comic interpretations from the likes of Johns.
11. HAL’S TRAINING
Hal’s training didn’t take itself too seriously and that’s not a bad thing. It’s unlikely that in Zack Snyder’s universe we’ll see this kind of levity, but in Campbell’s vision, it was fun watching him go through the grinder with Kilowog and Sinestro as drill sergeants. Watching Hal fumble around his constructs and learn just how to use them, and what he needed to do to make them stronger, also felt very comic-oriented.
Kilowog ridiculed Hal about humans and basically clamped him down before dropping rock constructs on him, which was pretty funny. He also taught Hal about gravitational pulls and suns, which would end up being used to defeat Parallax. At the end of the drill, Hal kicking Kilowog in the family jewels and calling him “gorgeous” reinforced their dynamic, as opposed to Sinestro, who was more ruthless, chastising Hal’s lack of willpower. His training was more intense because he only wanted the strong in his battalion.
10. AMANDA WALLER
At this point in time, the intimidating Amanda Waller had previously been brought to life in the “Justice League” and “Justice League: Unlimited” cartoons. Here, we got Angela Bassett scheming and manipulating as Waller. Apart from the size difference, she proved to be every bit as cold and calculating, as she oversaw the dissection of Abin Sur and clearly had big plans in mind regarding how to deal with the proof that extraterrestrials existed.
It wasn’t as cold-blooded as Viola Davis in David Ayer’s “Suicide Squad,” but this version of Waller, while more subtle, felt like the same kind of governmental aide whose intentions were nothing but sinister. It was disappointing that she wasn’t given more to do than be a lab supervisor, and seeing Hammond take her out felt like a major shortcoming. That said, it was a big step to really building a universe outside the comics and cartoons, truly opening the doors for characters outside the Lantern lore to appear.
9. RYAN REYNOLDS AS HAL
Ever since “Van Wilder,” we knew Reynolds would be a perfect “Deadpool,” but when you look at movies like “Smokin’ Aces,” you can see why he’s an action star as well and not just confined to comedy. He had the resume that boasted dramatic, emotional performances to bring to Hal Jordan, and as well as the jokes and overall lighthearted vibe. The jibes at his performance, and even the C.G.I. suit, seem a tad petty because they combined to represent Hal pretty well.
Reynolds was cocky when he needed to be, charming at other times and then he was emotive and focused on bringing the action flair to the film. These are all traits of Hal’s from the comics, especially when you see him with the Flash or the Justice League at the Watchtower. Hal is a joker, and when the dynamic calls for it, an ass-kicker. Reynolds nailed this balance and gave us all the dimensions of the character we needed.
8. SYMPATHY FOR HECTOR
Peter Sarsgaard gave a compelling performance as Hector Hammond, who was very envious of Hal’s life. Powering him up gave him the chance to take everything away from Hal, and he set about it in maniacal fashion, killing his father along the way and taking Waller out as well. Still, you couldn’t help but feel a sense of sympathy. All Hector wanted was to be more than an outcast. A big part of him giving into Parallax’s influence was because he was shunned his entire life.
We’re not making excuses, and he deserved everything he got, but it reminded us a bit of Danny DeVito’s Penguin from “Batman Returns.” This type of villain will always have us empathizing with a little bit, but not condoning their actions. If anything, his backstory was a good move in terms of character development and motivation, and Hal acknowledged that in the story. It was clear that Hector was a cry for help, but nonetheless, one that needed to be put down. Ironically, Parallax would do the trick and really make us feel sorry for Hector as it consumed him, literally.
7. GREAT ALIEN DESIGNS
One thing we think this film doesn’t get enough credit for is how it depicted alien life. Abin Sur was spot on, as well as the Guardians. Their designs and voice-performances gave them such character, identity and individuality. The same could be said for the other Lantern members, which was never going to be an easy task to pull off visually. Sinestro looked great, as did Kilowog, who felt plucked directly from comic pages.
Tomar-Re (voiced by Geoffrey Rush) also looked amazing. In fact, the entire Corps fit right in with the tone of the film, and definitely set a bar for modern C.G.I. six years later to shift. We’re confident that when Snyder and company unleash things, it will be quite a spectacle, but for the time it was set in, “Green Lantern” gave us aliens, as well as an Oa, that did the books justice. Everyone came across to the audience as beings with personality and helped define what outer space could really look like.
6. THE MILITARY CORPS
Outside of the training regime that Hal underwent as part of his induction into the Corps, what stood out was how they felt like a military unit. From the medical bay, where he underwent testing, to the training process, to their disposition in the field. Also, the way they were commandeered by the Guardians added to this. Sinestro and Kilowog really played this up as military leads, barking orders and advising the Corps on the best route.
This was all very new to Reynolds’ Hal, and it was the same for the viewers who had never seen the Green Lanterns on screen before. Campbell’s depiction of them really fit what we saw in the pages of “Green Lantern Corps,” albeit we really would have loved to see John Stewart, another Earth-Lantern from sector 2814, involved. Hal clearly saw an army unit similar to the ones back on Earth, and he quickly absorbed their importance as cosmic protectors from threats like Parallax.
5. A BADASS KILOWOG
Kilowog fans jumped for joy when he touched down to teach Hal a lesson that only he could offer to such poozers! He was as mean a Corps leader as they got, and it stuck to the comics which often painted him as a mean-mugged hard-ass! Here, he made fun of Hal’s species and his stench, and basically made it known who was the superior among them. Outside of this though, he was an altruistic leader that Campbell wanted everyone to follow, akin to Sinestro.
Kilowog ended up showing compassion towards Hal at the end, as their mutual respect built, but that doesn’t take away from how intimidating and badass he was, especially with the late Michael Clarke Duncan voicing. Hal often stood in awe of him, and you could see Sinestro and the Guardians respecting Kilowog, who was a no-nonsense and all-business warrior. The movie should have used him more but for the little we got, Kilowog more than packed a punch!
4. THE CONSTRUCTS
The constructs in this movie deserved many more commendations than they got. During Hal’s training with Kilowog and Sinestro, we saw shields, swords, discs, chains, machine guns, rocks and foot traps. When the climax of the film occurred, in which Hal took on Parallax alone on Earth, he used catapults as well as a drill to help ensnare the villain and lead him away from Earth. In space, Hal took it to the next level as he formulated a plan to burn Parallax in the sun.
There, he constructed jets and a harness as the sun’s gravity pulled Parallax in. Hal then dropped him with a big green fist to save the day, before he was rescued by the Corps. One major plus is that apart from looking decent in terms of C.G.I., all the constructs served a true purpose and didn’t feel gratuitous. They all fit with Hal’s arc of overcoming fear as well, which showed that as his willpower and confidence grew, so did his ability to create even more epic weapons using his ring.
3. HAL & CAROL’S CHEMISTRY
The chemistry between Hal and Carol was off the charts. It came as no surprise when Reynolds got married to Blake Lively after they met here, because they really brought the back and forth we were accustomed to seeing in the comics to the big screen. Their performances gave us a sense of romance from two individuals who were scared of hurting each other, and finding true happiness. Maybe their love angle could have been scaled back a bit, but it did spur Hal on in fighting Parallax.
In the comics, Carol, as a Star Sapphire, maintained a ferocity towards Hal, but she kept her love for him hidden deep down, and here, you could feel the emotional connection between the two. Hal truly loved her and his fear of failing her played a major part in his character arc. Carol was also crucial, as her Hal romance fuelled Hector’s rage, so Campbell was able to kill off two birds with one stone by using the couple’s mutual endearment, which always felt organic on the big screen.
2. THE ASSERTIVE GUARDIANS
It was a huge fanboy moment seeing the Guardians dictating the pace of the Corps on Oa. Sayd and Ganthet are such big parts of the mythos, so watching them be as assertive as ever was pretty cool. We could have done with more Scar, who tied into the “Blackest Night” angle in the books, but all in all, we were satisfied. The Guardians felt like true neutrals, especially when they, at Sinestro’s behest, left Hal to fight for Earth on his own, while entertaining his vision of harnessing yellow rings.
The Guardians did feel like they were about justice, but when they interacted with Sinestro, they came off like they could be swayed. That aside, their presence was commanding and as with Oa’s setting, everything here felt like the home of the true keepers of the galaxy. The conflict within the Guardians on Oa could have been played up more, but we assume that would have been expanded upon in future films. Their designs and overall mannerisms, though, felt straight out of the modern comics, so we can’t complain.
1. SINESTRO’S MIGHT
Sinestro was exactly how we wanted him to be. He was cutthroat, as seen when he was willing to sacrifice the entire planet Earth, and very much about order, as with his training of Hal whom he felt was weak. In this sequence, we saw him using swords to play on Hal’s fears, and inevitably, Sinestro’s sense of justice shifted when he wanted to harness the power of fear to defeat Parallax, all foreshadowing his fall from grace.
This was put on full display in the mid-credits when we saw him donning a yellow ring and becoming the first member of the Sinestro Corps. Mark Strong gave an intimidating performance and we really wanted to see him in a sequel surprising his comrades with the new ring, because throughout the film, you could tell he wanted power to rule over the galaxy with an iron-fist, even at the expense of the Corps or Guardians if necessary. His depiction was loyal to the comics and one of the movie’s brightest spots because he really felt like a villain whose philosophies we could all connect with.
Thoughts on our picks? Let us know in the comments if you found any redeeming factors in this Green Lantern movie!
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