‘Green’ means go see it

Posted by · 9:17 am · June 15th, 2011

It didn’t really hit me how excited I (still) was for “Green Lantern” until the lights dimmed and the green hit the screen. It can’t be understated how much of a long-time-coming type of thing this is, a theatrical version of such a vast cosmic comic book creation. And given the mechanics of the world, the amount of digital wizardry needed to conjure it, not to mention some dense continuity that never presented a clear-cut story for the screen, it’s understandable that it took so long.

But things started to change in 2004. Geoff Johns, a long-time DC guy who had written on a number of the company’s books (and already had a nice film education under his wing from his time as a Richard Donner mentee), started re-tooling the DC universe, beginning with one of his favorite characters: Hal Jordan. The “Rebirth” storyline led into a revitalized line of books featuring the Green Lantern Corps, a more than 3,000-member strong organization of intergalactic peace keepers, with Jordan right in the center of things. The elements Johns began tinkering with and re-envisioning — which were themselves building toward the “Blackest Night” and “Brightest Day” comic events of the last two years — began to reveal a way into the material for the screen. And now, “Green Lantern.”

Seven years after Johns began that new architecture, we finally get a film, one that — if you’re asking me — nails it about as well as a comic fan could hope for, while also serving as a solid crash-course into the world and presenting the building blocks for an exciting new franchise. I know some might be iffy on “Thor,” but as an apologist for that and an appreciator of “X-Men: First Class,” I’m comfortable saying “Green Lantern” makes it three-for-three for the comic book brigade this summer.

But I’m likely to be in the minority on this one. The character arc and relationships are a bit soft (suffering under the weight of lots of screenwriting cooks, likely), but I was right there with it the whole way. I’m no life-long fan of the material, mind you. And the Johns stuff is fresh in my brain after digging into it two years back, but I’m just excited these elements finally made it to the screen and landed in a better-than-expected way.

I won’t argue with anyone who dedicates over a thousand words to why the screenplay felt dodgy or why Ryan Reynolds seemed to have fizzling chemistry with Blake Lively or why the spectacle overpowered the story. But I’ll keep it around 500 hundred short but sweet words and say I thought Reynolds carried the film like a champ. I thought Peter Sarsgaard looked to be having so much fun that there were sparks of a side we haven’t seen from the actor (and that I hope we see more of in the future). And I thought the film had a singular identity in a genre flooded with derivation, which is no small feat.

For me, it’s great summer fun.

[Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures]

→ 40 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily · Reviews

40 responses so far

  • 1 6-15-2011 at 9:49 am

    Parrill said...

    I’ve never read any Green Lantern comics and therefore know nothing about the mythos and what have you…so I’m very curious to see how it will play toward a non-fan.

  • 2 6-15-2011 at 9:52 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    And I’m curious to know, because I’m wondering if it’ll all just be a jumbled mess for the unaccustomed. It gets the information out there but it could feel rushed.

  • 3 6-15-2011 at 10:01 am

    Kyle said...

    You have renewed my hope in the film, I was a bit discouraged by the early critical drubbing its getting…but damn it, if Tapley likes it, I’m with him, after all he was dead on about Super 8.

  • 4 6-15-2011 at 10:11 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I’m a bit of an apologist for it. It’s like an awesome wafer cookie. Super 8 is like an herbed-up baked chicken you took out of the oven too soon. The end game on both is an entirely different goal/meal.

  • 5 6-15-2011 at 10:15 am

    cineJAB said...

    Peter Sarsgaard is the only reason I would even consider seeing this movie. Those trailers are just so atrocious.

  • 6 6-15-2011 at 10:19 am

    Kyle said...

    Fair enough, I’ll try to bring that mindset to it. I find it interesting that Green Lantern is getting hammered by some for the same things Thor got a pass on (boring Earth sequences, over the top mythos, etc).

  • 7 6-15-2011 at 10:22 am

    Moviehobbyist said...

    Okay it’s fun. That doesn’t bode too well imo.

  • 8 6-15-2011 at 10:26 am

    Ben M. said...

    Well, Priest was a comic book movie also and I think that is widely viewed as a miss. Though I would say at least there have been worse films so far this summer than it.

    Personally, I felt Thor and First Class were fine but far from the best the genre has seen, and given some negative reviews for GL I don’t really see that changing things. If you ask me the comic book movie has been in something a decline since the summer of 08. Obviously there was Dark Knight then, but I would say Iron Man and Hellboy 2 were just as good, and I also liked Wanted and The Incredible Hulk enough. But since then there has not been a great movie in the genre IMO and there has also been some true POS like Punisher: War Zone, The Spirit, and Jonah Hex.

  • 9 6-15-2011 at 10:43 am

    carrie said...

    i don’t know Green Lantern comic ,it looks too “fake” for me and i’m not fan of Reynolds or someone in the casting so i’m not interesting by the movie

  • 10 6-15-2011 at 10:43 am

    DylanS said...

    Kris: Me and everybody else I know have found the CGI work (and the sheer volume of it on every frame) from the Trailer cringe-inducing, was it any better in the film?

  • 11 6-15-2011 at 10:44 am

    Zack said...

    Thanks a lot for this, Kris. I’m a longtime GL fanboy and I’ve been determined to go into this with an open mind, and at the risk of sounding like a kissass, I’m really jazzed to finally see a positive review from someone I know to be properly discerning.

  • 12 6-15-2011 at 10:51 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Dylan: Just about all of the CGI is actually in the trailer. It’s not as overbearing in the film. On the whole, it’s more centered on earth than Oa.

  • 13 6-15-2011 at 10:57 am

    tony rock said...

    So you like Green Lantern and you don’t like X-men or Super 8….

  • 14 6-15-2011 at 11:01 am

    tony rock said...

    …has Armond White hijacked your blog, Kris?

  • 15 6-15-2011 at 11:16 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    And the award for Most Obvious Comment goes to…

  • 16 6-15-2011 at 12:17 pm

    Fitz said...

    I thoroughly enjoyed X-men: First Class and am really looking forward to this. Thanks for your thoughts, Kris.

    BTW was there anything in Strong’s character that set him up for his turn in a sequel?

  • 17 6-15-2011 at 12:41 pm

    Carter said...

    Wanna take my kid this weekend. He is seven and I figured it would be fine considering it looks so goofy but I am hearing that it’s kinda disturbing and violent in parts…sorry to ask but is it kid friendly?

  • 18 6-15-2011 at 1:50 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Just in case readers need reassurance that Kris and I are very different people, I thought it was atrocious. Borderline incoherent to a franchise novice like me (I was relying on sheer genre expectation to navigate some plot points), visually all over the shop and hampered by a really rigid hero, the writing of whom allows scarcely any breathing room for Reynolds’ jock-dork charisma. I’ll take Thor a hundred times over this.

  • 19 6-15-2011 at 2:05 pm

    Parrill said...

    Non-fan Guy not making me feel very confident about spending my money.

  • 20 6-15-2011 at 2:34 pm

    JJ1 said...

    Well, it’s interesting that Kris didn’t care for Super 8 (83% on RT), but really liked Green Lantern (21%), so far. And Guy thought the latter was awful.

    That just goes to show how opinions of these Summer films can vary from person to person, blogger to blogger, critic to critic.

  • 21 6-15-2011 at 3:16 pm

    m1 said...

    How was Blake Lively? Or is her role not big enough?

  • 22 6-15-2011 at 3:33 pm

    Kyle said...

    I’m finding more and more that RT scores are no longer an indicator of movie quality for me personally. The Town being the perfect example of a movie with a high score that I found completely forgettable, same for Super 8, Away We Go, etc…it’s all personal taste, but I’m catching a screening tonight in Atlanta. We’ll see…

  • 23 6-15-2011 at 4:02 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Fitz: Stay for the credits. ;)

  • 24 6-15-2011 at 4:06 pm

    AdamL said...

    Might be interesting to read a thread where people can state the film that they really enjoyed despite a critical mauling – let’s say 33% or less on RT for instance. 20% for this and Kris liked it. I can’t think off the top of my head of something I’ve enjoyed that was quite that low, although I loved Hancock and that was 40%.

  • 25 6-15-2011 at 4:37 pm

    Brock Landers said...

    Oh man, this is one of the worst movies I have seen in a long time. Atrocious visual effects and a script that is as bad or worse than The Last Airbender. It may have decent opening weekend given that it’s a superhero film that has been marketed to death, but once people see it this shit is going to plummet.

    A complete disaster. If you want to go see an incoherent mess, wait and go see the new Transformers movie. It’s probably just as terrible, but at least the visual effects won’t be so fucking dreadful.

  • 26 6-15-2011 at 4:41 pm

    Rashad said...

    Adam, I really liked Hancock too, and thought Speed Racer was great.

  • 27 6-15-2011 at 5:17 pm

    bia said...

    Is Ryan Reynolds considered a good actor? I always see him in the same kind of role as the comedy douche bag…has be he done anything else where he impressed or showed range?

  • 28 6-15-2011 at 5:27 pm

    tony rock said...

    Reynolds has been good in Buried, Smokin Aces, The Proposal, even the forgettable Amityville Horror remake. His career choices aren’t always great, but he’s a decent actor in my book.

  • 29 6-15-2011 at 7:17 pm

    Brock Landers said...

    Reynolds was terrific in Buried and decent in a few other things. He has the talent, but he chooses some awful projects.

  • 30 6-15-2011 at 7:35 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I get the feeling the “incoherence” is due to the source material, which is vast, being totally foreign to viewers. Not making excuses, mind you. It’s the film’s job to convey this space opera and its moving parts to those unfamiliar. But it’s the vibe I get. It just seems to outlandish a concept for many to wrap their heads around, so tossing “incoherent” around becomes a standard criticism.

  • 31 6-15-2011 at 7:55 pm

    Kyle said...

    Saw it tonight. I’ll say little to avoid spoiling anything.

    While it certainly has a few moments that feel straight out of a Raimi Spider-man film (pretty much everything involving Hector Hammond, probably an ill-advised villain), it’s about as good as Thor, and on the plus side, no shoe-horned Avengers advertisements :-) Reynolds actually anchors the film quite well.

    Maybe it was lowered expectations after the critical dogpiling today, but I really had an enjoyable time…it ain’t The Dark Knight, but it ain’t Ghost Rider either.

  • 32 6-15-2011 at 9:10 pm

    Zack said...

    Kyle likes a movie about Hal Jordan. Well, that’s gracious of him.
    Okay, sorry for that. No more geek jokes.

  • 33 6-16-2011 at 5:15 am

    Kyle said...

    well played sir. That’s the Green Lantern I would have REALLY liked to have seen, woman in a fridge notwithstanding.

  • 34 6-16-2011 at 5:36 am

    Loyal said...

    Yeah, I thought it was terrible. All the various major problems aside, Green Lantern’s biggest issue is how absolutely boring it is.

    Easily one of the worst, if not THE worst comic book film I’ve ever seen. At his rate we’ll never get to see the Justice League on the big screen.

  • 35 6-16-2011 at 7:50 am

    JJ1 said...

    Adam wrote: Might be interesting to read a thread where people can state the film that they really enjoyed despite a critical mauling – let’s say 33% or less on RT for instance. 20% for this and Kris liked it. I can’t think off the top of my head of something I’ve enjoyed that was quite that low, although I loved Hancock and that was 40%.

    This doesn’t specifically apply, but the closest thing I can think of right now , for me, is that – ‘Australia’ was my 3rd favorite film of 2008 (behind ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘Wall-E’), and it’s only at 55% on RT (111 pos, 91 neg).

    It’s extremely rare that a film I loved so much (3rd of ’08) has that low of a RT score. But I can’t think of a film off-hand that I “enjoyed” with a RT rating in the 20-33% range.

  • 36 6-16-2011 at 9:39 am

    Fitz said...

    Thanks for the tip Kris, I would have left the theatre beforehand without you mentioning that.

    And if it helps I guarantee Flickchart will have a positive review up Friday as well.

  • 37 6-19-2011 at 3:50 pm

    Duncan Houst said...

    I’m no stranger to the comics, but this felt to be such a crass and irritating betrayal of the characters and the story. It feels like an appropriate companion piece to “Mr. Popper’s Penguins”, in that they abandoned what made the source material fantastic, and cast a familiar star face in the lead role. No disrespect to Ryan Reynolds, but he was a bad fit for Hal Jordan.

  • 38 6-19-2011 at 5:14 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    What exactly did they abandon? Genuinely curious, because it was a pretty faithful (though in some instances just to the spirit) representation of what Johns has been doing (and, after all, he had a heavy creative hand in it).