I hadn’t seen Green Lantern (Campbell) since it was released in 2011 and I can’t say it left a great impression on me at the time. I found the overall story flat and uninspiring with the characters a little bland and not particularly deep or likeable and as origin stories go it was by the numbers. In fact the whole thing had been done much better in 2009 with the animated feature Green Lantern: First Flight (Montgomery), this wasn’t the first time that DC had put out a superior animated feature covering similar territory. In 1997 they released the widely derided Batman & Robin (Schumacher), followed by the animated feature Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero (Kirkland) which covered similar ground and had been held back by Warner Bros. for fear it would over shadow their live action dud.
For all intents and purposes this should have been the beginning of a live action DC universe, Marvel already had the drop on DC by 3 years with Iron Man (Favreau, 2008) and Man Of Steel (Snyder, 2013) was still 2 years away. Given its science fiction leanings, with a healthy dose of cop thrown into the mix this should have been the perfect starting point for the more ‘God’ like elements of the DC universe and should have put an end to Warner Bros. reliance upon Batman and Superman titles that have been their cash cow since 1978.
I’m not sure what prompted me to re-watch Green Lantern 6 years later, or buy it for that matter, however 25p for the Blu-Ray Extended Cut on Amazon, courtesy of Music Magpie, certainly helped sweeten the pot. So with some trepidation I sat down to watch a film that memory convinced me was nothing short of terrible, one of the worst comic book movies to ever grace our screens, right down there with Catwoman (Pitof, 2004) and Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance (Nevaldine, Taylor, 2011).
Was it as bad as I remembered? Well no, but it wasn’t great either. The Extended Cut runs a little over 10 minutes longer than the cinema release and doesn’t add a great deal to the plot, unlike ‘classic’ Directors or Extended Cuts like Aliens (Cameron, 1986) or The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy (Jackson, 2001, 2002, 2003). The additional 10 minutes don’t alter the film in any significant or noticeable way there are no revelations in the additional footage that change relationships or plot points the film gets to its destination in much the same shape, it just takes 10 more minutes to arrive.
6 years on I still think Ryan Reynolds is woefully miscast, and was apparently cast against director Martin Campbell’s wishes as he had wanted Bradley Cooper for the part. I don’t think either would/are suitable choices both actors are largely inter-changable but I find Reynolds is just far too cocky and carefree to be believable as Hal Jordan. I’ve always thought of Jordan as a straight arrow albeit one who would bend the rules rather than flat out ignore them as he does with Reynolds interpretation.
Reynolds isn’t the only one miscast, Blake Lively, as Carol Ferris, just seems woefully out of place. Whilst she isn’t reduced to eye candy I just don’t buy Lively as a test pilot, in much the same way that I still don’t see Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist in The World Is Not Enough (Apted, 1999). The part is underwritten and apart from one line of improvised dialogue “I’ve seen you naked! You think I wouldn’t recognise you because you covered your cheekbones!” the role is uneventful.
Peter Sarsgaard fairs a little better as Hector Hammond, getting to chew some serious scenery but the uneven pacing, more of that shortly, means that his arc whips by at breakneck speed and is over before you know it.
The remainder of the cast is filled out with a decent and dependable cast, but they have very little screen time and provide little more than lip service to their comic book originators.
As for the plot, pacing and editing. It is a little hit and miss from the beginning. This is very much a by the book origin story and feels like a collection of scenes in desperate need of a plot, it bounces back and forth between earth and space and Parallax. For the sake of the plot Jordan learns to use his ring and powers with surprising ease and the training montage flies by in less than a couple of minutes as does Jordans’ doubt in his abilities before a final act turn around. As for the final act it is a little underwhelming, Parallax isn’t written as the massive threat he/it should be and follows the trend of evil clouds previously seen in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (Story, 2007).
I think that happens to have been my biggest issue with the film watching it again, whilst it gloriously embraces the science fiction elements of the source material there is too much of the film that is CGI, from the Green Lantern costumes to 95% of the Lanterns. Almost every scene features some digital tinkering making The Phantom Menace (Lucas, 1999) look positively restrained in comparison. The CG just makes everything look weightless and this film was there at the beginning for global disasters lacking the gravitas they should have.
I think the character could have greatly benefited from a sequel, especially with the mid-credit sequence that suggests Mark Strong’s Sinestro would be the villain. Looking at Box Office Mojo I’m not surprised the film didn’t get a sequel as it appears to have cost in the region of $200 million, and only just broke even with a worldwide gross of just under $220 million. Even with the studio desperately trying to tag the film to the latest 3D craze that only just seems to be dying on its arse, it doesn’t appear to have helped the box office in any way.
The Green Lantern looks to be getting another go at the box office in 2020 with Green Lantern Corps. so like Ang Lees Hulk (2003) this appears to be the forgotten step child that DC doesn’t talk about. Had there been a better more well rounded script who knows we may have had a sequel by now and have even been talking up an appearance in Justice League (Snyder, 2017). As it is we’ll simply continue to chalk this up to one of the many comic book misfires and at the time of writing this is the 837 most (un)popular film on IMDB.