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Not the Brightest Day, Nor the Blackest Night

“In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight! Let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power… Green Lantern’s light!”  Anyone who can recite the Green Lantern oath from memory is going to be biased when it comes to reviewing the film.  Such a nerd will either be overly critical or a Green Lantern slappy.

Well, while I knew the oath, I had to look it up to make sure I got it right.  So I guess you can say that I’m somewhere in the middle of the road.  After Batman, Green Lantern has always been my favorite DC superhero.  I can name all the Earthling Green Lanterns and I know Carol Ferris becomes Star Saphire. But I can’t name the bug one or the one that looks like a ball with arms and legs.  So I’m not going to nitpick every discrepancy in the film, nor will I catch every allusion.

I’m assuming all the hardcore fanboys have already seen the film, so I’m not going to worry much about spoilers in my review.  Below I’ve overviewed the strengths and weaknesses of a film that, for this “casual” Green Lantern fan, sufficed.

Strengths:

Sinestro has always been one of my favorite DC villains.  The wielder of the yellow ring is a great nemesis for Hal Jordan and his journey to the dark side is classic mythos.  Casting Mark Strong as Sinestro was a brilliant move. His performance captures Sinestro’s overzealous pursuit of order that ultimately will lead to his corruption.

The special effects were one of the most highly criticized aspects of the previews for this film.  I was smart and saw this in 2D, so I was satisfied with the green constructs that Hal Jordan and others created.  I had no issues with the portrayal of Oa or the new take on the Guardians.  I particularly liked the look of Sinestro, Tomar-Re, and the other Green Lantern cameos in the Corp scenes.  Kilowog was a bit stiff looking, yet he still looked like a big pig-dinosaur-thingy.  Paralax reminded me of the smoke monster from Lost or the terrible incarnation of Galactus in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. But it was forgivable.

Much like seeing Spider-man swing through New York City for the first time, it was great to see we now have the technology for Green Lantern to soar through the cosmos.

I even started to like Green Lantern’s costume.  I know, I know.  This bothered a lot of my fellow nerds. But remember when a lot of fanboys wanted to see Wolverine in blue and yellow spandex when X-men first came out?  The black leather worked for Wolvie and I think the glowing-green-muscle costume works for GL.  The lantern was still weird looking though.

The humor of the film worked as well.  Ryan Reynolds flippant commentary helped with the suspension of disbelief and with making Hal Jordan a likable character despite his brash pride.  What worked best was that there wasn’t too much flippancy for the character of Hal Jordan. He wasn’t Flash or Deadpool in his witty banter.  What also made Hal a believable character was his struggle to accept the responsibility of being a Green Lantern.  While it was predictable and a bit heavy handed, this internal conflict makes sense with the film’s central conflict of will versus fear.

[SPOILER] The teaser at the end of the credits, while predictable was also satisfying.  Everyone who knows Green Lantern from Green Hornet and Green Arrow, knows that Sinestro is going to don the yellow ring by the end of the film.  Seeing him in the black and yellow was worth waiting for, especially because they don’t make you wait until after you see who was the assistant-to-the-assistant second grip.  The scene rolls right after the big names.

Weaknesses:

Carol Ferris was blah.  I was not a fan of casting Blake Lively to play her.  Her character was too sappy as she pines after Hal.  I much prefer the strong-willed, no nonsense business woman who, while she cares for Hal, isn’t going to just wait around for him.  I did, however, like that Carol figures out Hal is the one donning the green mask right away.  It was nice to see this film poke fun at both Lois Lane and Batman’s voice.  So there were glimpses of an intelligent, self-reliant Carol, but that’s all.

Still, this isn’t all Blake Lively’s fault.  The writing for this film needed work.  Along with a watered down version of Carol Ferris, the plot of the film was choppy and redundant.  The flashback scene to Hal’s father dying is a prime example.  It was too long for one, and cutting back and forth and back and forth just made it ultimately unbearable.  Plus, they continually reference his feelings of inadequacy to the point of annoyance.

The biggest weakness, however, was Hector Hammond as a villain.  His appearance often incited laughter from the audience when this was obviously not the desired result.  But I couldn’t blame the audience.  I mean how huge can you make a guy’s head before it becomes ridiculous?  How many times can you have an actor scream out in pain before it becomes ludicrous?

The verdict:

Overall, I was left wanting more from this film.  I wanted more cool Green Lantern constructs, more space battles with Parallax, more scenes with the Corp.  Still, this movie fulfilled my ultimate expectation.  It was good enough to warrant a sequel.  Let’s hope they improve upon the first.

I've been a comic nerd since Spider-man and his Amazing Friends and the Super Friends. So someone please explain to me, when did Aquaman become so cool? Also, why isn't She-Hulk in more media?

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